Over the lifetime of this blog I've often written about using the latest Web-based software and tools to accomplish things on a completely different timescale than has been possible previously. Things like Ruby on Rails, mashups, syndication, and other lightweight software and service models seem to be changing the rules of the game out on the Web. What used to cost thousands to develop, now only costs hundreds, what took 5-10 people now only takes one or two. Many of these trends appear to be successfully optmizing for one all important variable in an increasingly time-challenged world; ease of development and consumption.
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 week I had the distinct honor of listening to Harvard Business School's Andrew McAfee speak on Enterprise 2.0 at The New New Internet in Northern Virginia. I've written several times here about McAfee's thoughts and work about the use of freeform, emergent, social software to enable ad hoc collaboration. McAfee's work essentially applies and combines many of the key Web 2.0 concepts of social software, user generated content, and discoverability via search to the workplace.
I'm on an Amtrak train as I write this heading to New York City where I'll get a chance to see Harvard's Andrew McAfee of Enterprise 2.0 fame speak at Interop, a chance I'll get twice in the next two days, so expect some coverage here shortly. On my ride, I thought I'd address some of the good points fellow ZDNetter Ryan Stewart made last week about the rise of new Rich Internet Applications (RIA) technologies such as Flex and OpenLaszlo. Ryan wrote about the advantage of having a robust, modern Web stack supporting a RIA aplication.
First, a parable: At the heart of the Web from the very beginning was the concept of sharing information with others. Originally this vision encompassed the notion of information stored in "pages" accessible from the network and connected together by links. These links let readers effortlessly travel to related information somewhere else on the Internet, forming a sort of fabric. This conceptual fabric was of a relatively flat "Web" of servers and pages with hyperlinks gluing everything together. And though creating pages could be done by anybody, in practice it was done by a relative few. But early on, everyone liked what they saw and built on top of it.
A host of powerful new methods for rapidly creating compelling browser-based software (aka Rich Internet Applications) have recently come to market, or are rapidly heading there. While the technique getting the most press by far these days is still Ajax, there are a number of new approaches that are intent on dislocating this often finicky and hard to work with -- though very powerful -- browser software model. The goal? To help us more easily develop the next generation of Web applications that are every bit as good as or better than desktop PC applications.
A pair of new articles over on the Sandhill site explores the increasingly discussed topic of Enterprise 2.0, an important Web 2.0 offshoot that I've covered over the last few months. While a lot of folks are taking a wait and see attitude to the application of low-barrier, emergent, social software to enable ad hoc business processes, it's nevertheless a topic of interest in many IT and business circles.
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.
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.