While 2006 was a big year for Web 2.0 in the consumer space, it was barely on the radar in the enterprise world. That didn't stop volumes of press coverage, speculation, and debate about how applicable Web 2.0 technologies -- from Ajax to social networking -- would actually be to the business world. However those in the enterprise who wanted to go ahead and experiment or conduct pilot projects to see how Web 2.0 concepts work for them were largely stuck with very consumer-oriented Web 2.0 applications to try out. That's because until recently, the major software makers that supply the application platforms that run in the vast majority of the business world haven't had applications that specifically focused on Web 2.0 patterns and practices, things like social networking, tagging, mashups, architectures of participation, and so on.
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.
Last year we witnessed the rise of consumer mashups on the Web, with hundreds of individual mashup-based Web applications being released in 2006 alone. I covered this phenomenon in detail in my year-end mashup wrap-up, but now this innovation in software development is gearing up to move inside the enterprise as a raft of tools get ready to provide the tools to make it possible. What will this mean for IT departments and end-users? Let's take a look.
Those that follow the trends on the Internet and the trends within the enterprise have long noticed a very similar direction in both spaces for a while now; a push to move their software to a real services model. The reasons for this push seem straightforward: easier integration between systems, a better foundation for building new applications, dynamic business process automation that crosses organizational boundaries, and better management and monitoring of IT systems.
I explored the rise of Enterprise 2.0 this year in last week's year in review post, but 2007 will likely prove to be a much more intriguing year for the trend. The demand side of Enterprise 2.0 is driven from a variety of sources that likely include a "long tail" of demand for on-the-fly IT solutions as well as the promise of enabling true collaborative problem solving (tacit interactions). But is the real story more complicated than a couple of causal roots?
Though the eponymous title of this blog refers to the application of all aspects of Web 2.0 to the enterprise both large and small, the big story this year has really been about a collaborative subset of Web 2.0, something referred to as Enterprise 2.0. Though the definition has continued to expand in some circles, Enterprise 2.0 describes the use of the latest freeform, emergent, social software tools that hold the promise to significantly improve the ways that we work together and collaborate. As an example, the liberal use of internal blogs and wikis with discoverable content frequently forms the foundation of an Enterprise 2.0 software strategy.
One of my favorite Internet stats to check out are the mashup and open API trendlines on the front page of Programmable Web. Consistently, month after month this year and right up until present day, we've seen the mashup stats climb intriguing steadiness. And along with hundreds of available Web APIs, we've also maintained a sustained rate of approximately three brand new mashup applications being released per day. Interesting growth, but is it the start of a major trend?
Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I finally had time to compile my notes on a significant new Web 2.0 in the enterprise story that emerged earlier this month from the Web 2.0 Summit. At the same time, one of the inevitable recurring debates about Web 2.0 made its rounds on the blogosphere. Both pieces of news seem to be hallmarks of important and connected emerging trends on the Internet and are worth a closer look.
One of the most consistent trends on the Internet is the rise of open APIs and the applications built on top of them, known as mashups. Programmable Web currently lists over 1100 APIs that can be used for everything from building Web sites on top of Google Maps to using Amazon's powerful infrastructure APIs for storage and cluster computing. The underlying trend: The desire to easily remix the vast pool of high value data and services on the Web today into useful new solutions, at home and perhaps even in the enterprise.
The annual Web 2.0 Conference starts this Tuesday and with it comes an important update of the vision of the next generation of networked applications. Thus, the major event during the leadup to the conference is not the pending renaming of the conference to the Web 2.0 Summit, but the issuing of the most complete articulation yet of what exactly Web 2.0 is, something which the industry has frequently struggled with.
As browser-based software, SaaS, and Web 2.0 continue to make some inroads in the enterprise, it's the lack of useful pioneer reports that hampers the early adoptors. Sure, many of us witness the often amazing trends taking place out on the Web in the form of mountains of user generated content and communication and collaboration occuring en masse via blogs and spaces. But the big question is still with us: Can the motivations and context that makes the latest generation of software on the Web so compelling, and hence popular, be made just as meaningful in the enterprise?