Web services are services that are made available from a business’s Web server for Web users or other Web-connected programs. Providers of Web services are generally known as application service provider s. Web services range from such major services as storage management and customer relationship management down to much more limited services such as the furnishing of a stock quote and the checking of bids for an auction item. The accelerating creation and availability of these services is a major Web trend.
Users can access some Web services through a peer-to-peer arrangement rather than by going to a central server. Some services can communicate with other services and this exchange of procedures and data is generally enabled by a class of software known as middle ware . Services previously possible only with the older standardized service known as Electronic Data Interchange increasingly are likely to become Web services. Besides the standardization and wide availability to users and businesses of the Internet itself, Web services are also increasingly enabled by the use of the Extensible Markup Language as a means of standardizing data formats and exchanging data. XML is the foundation for the Web Services Description Language.
While accounting and auditing services constitute the core activities of accountancy firms, a wide range of additional services may also be offered, most notably merger audits, insolvency services, tax advice, investment services and management consulting. The internal expertise developed by the profession in regard to information technology has resulted in accountancy firms becoming among the world’s largest suppliers of such consultancy services.