I was in a meeting with a web design and development company on Monday who has produced a forms-based data management solution. This product interfaces between a site's core customer facing forms and the data (in this case in the form of emails) that are produced from the site's bowels when users make requests, orders or communicate with the company in any other way.
The company's lead development guru and I got to talking about this level of web service technology and questioned whether “web middleware” will be the next cash cow for Internet revenue streams. Looking the term up during our meeting I was slightly embarrassed to see that it has been in relatively wide usage for over a decade now – one of the earliest references being a story on InfoWorld.
But should I have been embarrassed? Is this a burgeoning technology that is set to be the next major earner for web 2.0 (and dare I say it – even web 3.0) focused firms?
Intel James Reinders talks often about the fact that some technologies surface, spend a decade or so in a kind of 'developing but not quite ready yet' development phase – and then enjoy full adoption.
In the same morning I got to reading about an outfit called TheWebService whose SOA-based – yet to be formally announced – 'offering' will, according to the company, address the issue of integrating disparate data silos without using 'costly' middleware & programming teams.
Well firstly, I question the term costly. A lot of this web middleware is sold on a license basis for as little as ten pounds per month. But let's get to the punchline.
Corporate data becomes, disparate, fragmented, unmanaged and badly stockpiled in different formats. Yes we know that. But TheWebService's MD Guy Mucklow reckons that his new web service technology can seek out and integrate this data, then pipe it in real-time through a secure web-based platform.
“Automatic code generation will even let IT depts build their own web services around the live data, with myriad applications - e.g. current stock levels can be displayed on a customer-facing web site,” said Mucklow. “The idea of MyFeeds means users can effectively 'mashup' their own data with commercial sets, for matching, screening, enhancement or anything else, without having to build a dedicated data mart.”
So, mashed up web data that is integrated into commercially-driven and correctly monetised platforms could be just what Twitter needs to start making money. For Twitter, web middleware really ought to be the cash cow then? If they know that x% of people in Russia posted URLs related to xyz subject between 10am and midday, then leveraging that data in a mashed up integrated contextualised way is what it's all about. Or at least it could be soon. Don't ya reckon?