Web Services are the order of the day - and all the industry movers and shakers are betting big on them! But here's some authentic info on how web services are being used for good - and how they are driving down the costs. For starters, using Web services to streamline internal processes has reduced General Motor's vehicle design process from forty-eight to eighteen months - as stated by this HBS Working Knowledge feature.
However, with all its benefit and the concept of SaaS and its synergies to business strategies, the good old problem of "common standards" continue to challenge web services to become the next big thing...as told by this interview of Andrew McAfee.
The bottomline is, while Web Services provide a perfect stepping stone to integrate, centralize IT systems and bring about serious cost savings, it doesn't provide a magic solution to the age-old problems of system integration. The current hype cycle might lead people to jump into it looking for overnight gains, but the best way still is to analyze, define and design systems with diligence, and then, reap the benefits :) .
That said, used effectively, web services will lead the evolution of IT systems as greater business enablers in the days to come and will remain one of the main pillars of the Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 revolution, if you will!!
Asynchronous ASP.NET Web Services + ASP.NET Ajax / Silverlight enabled UI = Makes my day!!