I was having a cup of coffee with a friend the other day talking about a possible Web application to help solve an ongoing problem at their company. The problem involved multiple excel Spread Sheets of Phone Orders complied by in-house and out-house Ticketmasters.
Due to the in-house and out-house nature of the Tickmasters the company could not give an actual seat number to the person ordering the tickets over the phone, and could only specify a section the person would be seated.
At the end of the day the Phone Order spread sheets would be sent to another person who compiled all the spread sheets and booked/reserves the seats. Once the seats were booked a Printable Ticket, was then sent to the person who Ordered the tickets.
Once a show was Sold Out, an Email would go out to all the in-house and out-house Ticketmasters to not accept anymore Phone Orders.
What initially struck me about the process was that it sounded as though it worked pretty well, but over the course of the conversation it dawned on me how completely inefficient this process was and how many people were involved to produce a single phone order.
I explained to my friend, how the Weather Channel uses Web Services to handle things like this. Example: When you go online to look at the weather in your area, you are not getting in touch with a Meteorologist you are actually just connecting and interacting with the Data the Meteorologist produced. By entering in your ZIP code a Web Service takes that information and pairs it up with Data and spits out the Weather for your area. It does this without any human intervention.
In the scenario of the Weather Channel a Web Service is taking care of having many people getting and receiving information and puts the focus on a single entry point with infinite exit points of the information without creating more work. Where as the solution of putting more people on the task to accommodate volume, Production,Costs and Human Error expand exponentially.
In this case the Solution for my friend was to build a Secure Web Site that contained a Form and Web Service. The Form allowed in-house and out-house Ticketmasters to enter the information received over the phone, which automatically updated records in a Database which solved having to compile two Spreadsheets and allowed real-time seat booking/ registration. The Web Service like the weather channel when queried with the show title in this case “The Red Dress” gives how many seats are still open, and the show time, which they can give to potential customers and to other company employees outside the realm of the ticket process. Giving my friend’s company a neat Web 2.0 tool to hand out to customers.