There is a frequently recurring piece of software development lore that plays on the fact that good programmers are supposed to be lazy. In these stories, a good programmer will take a frequently recurring, monotonous task (like testing) and instead of doing it by hand, will instead write a piece of code once that will do the task for them, thereby automating it for future use.
Enterprise Web 2.0
Dion Hinchcliffe on leveraging the convergence of IT and the next generation of the Web.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an expert in information technology, business strategy, and next-generation enterprises.
If you go to Wikipedia this afternoon and try to pull up the entry for Enterprise 2.0, you won't find it there any longer. Readers of this blog are familiar with my writings about this emerging concept in the IT and business space that has been topic of much discussion of late. My point here however is not to go into the details of how and why this term is effectively censored by Wikipedia, at least for the moment; folks like Jason Wood and Jerry Bowles have already done a creditable job. However...
A pair of excellently written and well-reasoned new posts over the last couple of days have focused on a key issue when weaving pre-existing services together into useful new business applications. The result of doing this is often called a composite application in the "enterprisey" world of service-oriented architecture (SOA). And it's called a mashup in the primarily consumer world of Web 2.0. Regardless of name however, both composite apps and mashups are intended to reduce the overall effort of development, improve functionality, promote data consistency, and increase the net output of useful software.
I read with interest this morning Gartner's new 2006 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle which they released earlier today. Of course, I wasn't too terribly surprised to find that Web 2.0 figured prominently at the top of the list. Released yearly, the list identifies and analyzes the most hyped new technology trends. I find the Hype Cycle to be both good reading as well as a useful reality check. The report does make one thing clear; Web 2.0 will have significant business impact in the next half-decade and companies everywhere are having to consider directly how it affects them and their business strategies.
The recent round of discussion of enterprise mashups has been a good one, lead primarily by a stellar write-up recently by Galen Gruman, and highlights a phenomenon that is nigh upon us. As part of tracking this, I've been spending the better part of the last couple of months searching high and low for good quality tools that let anyone build enterprise-quality mashups, and I can safely report here that there are only a few.
I've been asked a number of times recently to succinctly describe the difference between using older, more traditional software models and things like Web 2.0. Besides getting tired of level setting what Web 2.0 is in a given crowd (which does seem to be getting easier however), there's a growing body of knowledge to refer to that explains how Web 2.0 seems to directly address a lot of issues with existing software models in the enterprise.
Ex-Microsoft uberblogger and Podtech executive Robert Scoble is starting to really feel the weight of responsibility when running a Web startup. Investors have provided cash flow to speculate on the company's prospects and now it's up to him to find a way to make it all work. Pointing to a great write-up on the challenges of Web 2.0 revenue by Ajit Joakar, Robert's mind is clearly on how he's going make it happen.
Most of you know that I've been tracking closely the inversion of control seemingly being ushered in en masse by the Web. That the interesting parts of the Web are increasingly contributed by its users directly, or indirectly, apparently establishing that the sheer mass of innovation is in control of the greater Web community rather than by a few centrally controlled outlets. The implications for business seems to be that control over a lot of things is moving from top-down to bottom-up, or at least heading in one particular direction instead of the other.
With all the talk last week about MySpace becoming the #1 most visited site on the Web, there's also been a lot of talk about how Web 2.0 sites like MySpace handle their sharp growth rates. Because Web 2.0 sites explicitly leverage network effects, when they hit their inflection point there can be a simply unmanageable amount of new traffic. Think the Slashdot-effect squared.
IT systems have been storing essential corporate information in databases for years and making it easy to find and access by others via software applications for years. This sometimes makes the user generated content epiphany, as best exemplified by the likes of MySpace, YouTube, and Digg, and numerous others, seem rather retro to those that build and manage enterprise IT systems. After all, "haven't we been doing this for years?", they ask.