Roll-your-own departmental apps

Could simple development platforms such as Jotspot's bite into larger entewrprise software markets?
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

I recently met with Joe Kraus, head of Jotspot and a co-founder of Excite--the "google" of its time. Jotspot this week introduced a cool feature that turns Excel spreadsheets into groupware applications that can be shared by team members--using the Jotspot platform.

Joe Kraus is worth watching for many reasons. One of them is  Jotspot, which is riding a potential mid-ocean tsunami, a barely perceptible rise in the water level. But when it hits, this type of do-it-yourself, or roll-your-own software, could be very disruptive on the enterprise software sector in the small and medium sized business market, and in the departmental application arena.

Software such as Jotspot is potentially disruptive because it is a dead-simple software creation platform. Think of it as letting you create a thin application layer that sits on a database, a "database skin."

Enterprise applications also manipulate a database. Jotspot's technology allows for simple creation of software. Often such software would only be used by a dozen people in a department--which is too small a market for commercial vendors of packaged applications. Today, the "market" is mostly based on Excel spreadsheets emailed between project collaborators.

Jotspot is also moving away from its wiki roots, and more into being an enterprise platform into which wikis and other applications can be embedded and combined. Jotspot is starting to offer pre-configured web service applications for certain uses, such as class/company reunions.

When I spoke with Ray Lane, a VC at Kleiner Perkins, late last year, he said he was a big fan of the do-it- yourself software platforms such as Jotspot.

But Joe Kraus says this class of software needs a better name and I agree: roll-your-own or do-it-yourself software just doesn't do it.

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