JP Rangaswami's day job is CIO of BT Global Services. By night and in parallel, he's a thought leader evangelizing blogs, wikis and other Web technologies as game-changing for the enterprise. In a recent postings (here and here) on his blog, JP gave a concrete example of what his notion of Four Pillars of new world of information--syndication(smartly disseminating content), search (collaboratively filtered), fulfilment (the transaction chain) and conversation (collaboration)--might look like.
In an enterprise software context, JP said that the seeds of his Four Pillars are planted in Netvibes, a personal portal platform:
Netvibes already has syndication, search, fulfilment and conversation built in. It can do a lot better at the IM piece; it is more an enabler rather than a vehicle for conversation, staying agnostic about the specific tool used. There aren’t many real examples of fulfilment. Nevertheless it is a good place to start. It has single sign on; powerful personalisation; a good drive towards platform and OS and browser agnosticism. It leverages community value a la WordPress by having an outstanding ecosystem approach. And it provides a good foundation for my granularity debate.
One aspect of JP's argument is that the community invested in a particular software platform, whether Netvibes (or competitors such as PageFlacks, Webwag, Yahoo, Google and Windows Live), Firefox or an ERP application, innovates at higher speed and less of a gap exists between application consumers and creators (sometimes they are the same). In addition, there is great simplification when data is delivered as feeds and mashups that can have more or less granularity.
...innovations happen on a Long Tail basis, with local solutions to local problems and global solutions to global ones. Language and localisation customisation happen at a rate of knots as well, we no longer have this appalling drip-feed of regional releases of things. Humongous general purpose enterprise applications start looking like feeds.
As an example of a personalized, open, syndication-centric consumer portal driven, Netvibes is easy to set up, access and customize. Enterprise portals and portlets have more constraints, driven by security issues and command and control cultures. They are also costly and complex to implement, which is another reason JP is rethinking enterprise software in a new context, taking a lesson from consumer technology, just as he did in bringing blogs and wikis into the enterprise.