Down a few pints of Web 2.0 dispatches, ponder The New York Times’ effort to coin Web 3.0 and you’re left with a nagging question: What parts of these aforementioned revolutions are going to affect the information technology department of the future?
While folks hop on the Web-2.0-3.0-go-round, which was recapped here by Dan Farber, the whole discussion needs to be focused a lot less on the VC dough and a lot more on how this stuff is going to make IT more efficient. How exactly is a mash-up going to help my business?
It’s a tricky question. Pitch a few CIOs on mashups, Web 2.0 concepts and lightweight apps and you’ll get some interest, but it fades pretty quickly—after all these poor folks have to integrate and pare 1,800 applications (if they are lucky), manage legacy systems and fend off bean counters. To get any real insight you need to rephrase the question: If you had a blank slate what would you do? Would Web 2.0 concepts be a part of it? If you had a green field to build your technology infrastructure what would the building blocks be? Would you start with Microsoft or bypass it? SAP? Oracle? Would you trust Amazon with your computing power and storage needs? How exactly would you utilize the semantic Web (you have plenty of time on this one)?
I don’t have the answers, but do plan on asking these questions repeatedly until the information systems architecture of the future emerges. Rest assured the lightweight applications that are a part of the Web 2.0 vision are going to nibble away at the big software vendors over the next five years—call it revenge of the small. Just like big media is getting thumped by small media, software will follow the same route. Chances are some startup that actually has the luxury of a green field to play with, will show the way. For now the discussion seems to be focused on whether Web 2.0 is bubblicious. (The answer: Yes.) Perhaps the discussion needs to be flipped. What would you do with that green field? Stay tuned.