Some companies using direct file transfers find they’re an advantage over web form-based systems, in that data is moved around automatically without employees having to go on the web and manually enter invoicing information.
However, they can require some integration work, and this means a custom interface needs to be written. Web Services are already making the process easier with a common standard for exchanging data and instructions between applications.
This standard is based on XML (extensible markup language) which is a relative of the HTML used on web sites.
Web Services have been embraced by all the major technology vendors in the country, including Microsoft, IBM and Sun Microsystems. Some of the world’s largest institutions are already experimenting with Web Services applications, and Web Services are expected to proliferate in the next few years, much as world wide web pages have already.