Under the Radar: From Web 2.0 to Work 2.0

I'm at the Under the Radar "Why Office 2.0 Matters"  conference, which features presentations by more than 30 startup companies hoping to make a dent in the software universe occupied primarily by Microsoft.

I'm at the Under the Radar "Why Office 2.0 Matters"  conference, which features presentations by more than 30 startup companies hoping to make a dent in the software universe occupied primarily by Microsoft. Ironically, or presciently, the event is taking place at Microsoft's Mountain View campus. More on that subject later.

Office 2.0 is generally associated with what comes after Microsoft Office, currently represented by a new class of on demand, hosted office productivity suites from Zoho, Think Free, Google and others. Microsoft so far has now shown its on demand suite cards, other than claiming that customers aren't demanding a cloud-based Office suite, which could be translated to imply that the company doesn't fear any erosion or corrosive effects from the cloud-based suites yet. That doesn't mean Microsoft programmers aren't hard at work, under the leadership of the phantom Ray Ozzie, on a cloud-based suite complementary to the client/server Office.

However, this event is really less about Office 2.0 and more about Work 2.0, which is why Microsoft is not such an ironic choice as a host for the event. Web 2.0 is a bunch of technologies--blogs, wikis, RSS, mashups, tags, etc.--that need to be integrated as part of work environments. It's turning Web 2.0 into Work 2.0.

The first session featured four services that provide tools for creating mashups and Web applications.

Longjump CEO Pankaj Malviya demoed an on demand platform for building Web applications. He characterized it as an less costly and complex salesforce.com AppExchange competitor. Indeed, the service, which is in private beta, appears to be positioned as a light version of salesforce.com. Longjump allows for drag and drop design for non-programmers, comes with a set of applications to get started, includes data and workflow policies, custom indices, and will have a $20 subscription fee, he said.  

Mashery provides the infrastructure to manage the giving and taking of APIs, with security and access controls; monitoring, metering and metrics; performance and scalability; developer and community tools and distribution. Most developers today manager their own APIs. Mashery CEO Oren Michels said he provides his platform for under $25,000 a year to developers, claiming 90 percent first year saving versus an in-house solution. So far Mashery has signed up six developer sites, and plans to have a developer portal that provides access to Web services and forums. I wrote about Mashery here.

Proto Software offers a set of tools for building mashups, combining Web services a, such as Google Maps, and desktop applications, such as Excel and local data, such as from enterprise databases, to build composite applications. It includes a visual interface for non-programmers as well as a complete Visual Basic IDE for developers who want to add scripts to components. CEO Byron Binkley also showed a mashup of Yahoo search, salesforce.com and a Proto Software service tracking sales leads from downloads. It looks like a useful tool, especially for Excel users who want to mashup spreadsheet data. Currently, the application is a Windows client-based service. 

Teqlo has created an on demand mashup platform (I wrote about it here), composite application builder based on Web service protocols. "There is a sea of Web sites and no high level of integration to move data around," said Teqlo CEO Jeff Nolan. "The challenge is how to take functional components to create task flow...creating longer chain asynchronous business processes. It's not just simple mashups moving data between two components."  The widgets or components are more intelligent, and talk to each other, such as moving a task list to a calendar. 

Teqlo is targeting companies that don't have a lot of IT resources, the SMB market, with its visual, drag and drop interface and data routing.  "I don't think we move into pure do-it- yourself, but we can offer more choice for users," Nolan said. "You aren't going to build CRM or production planning system with Teqlo, but we are talking about filling the gaps. Think about how much more productive you could be if you could integrate the hodgepodge of services and systems. That's why Yahoo Pipes is so interesting. We are about creating small application you use yourself." In other words, Teqlo and other mashup platforms are not about building the next salesforce.com but about automating the process of finding leads and shoving them into salesforce.com, Nolan added.  

The company also has the enterprise in its sights for the future. "Oracle, SAP and Microsoft have a large set of services, recompositing with other services. We want to be the tape to pull it all together," Nolan said.

Recently, Teqlo mashed up with Serendipity Technologies' WorkLight to create secure enterprise application mashups for enterprise data without coding. Teqlo is also planning to create a marketplace for its composite applications. The company is aiming to have 75 components and 20,000 users by the end of this year, and double the number of components next year and add 130,000 users with more complex, longer chain applications. 

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