Monday, June 19, 2006

Enterprise Mashups 2

The concept of mashup originates with browser-based composition of information services from third-party sources - the so-called Programmable Web. Most of the well-known examples are consumer-oriented - combinations of maps, photos, tag-based content and simple structured data - clustering around some common services such as GoogleMaps, and Flickr. (See Philip Boxer's analysis of Interoperability Landscapes.)

A number of industry analysts, including James Governor, Dion Hinchcliffe, Joe McKendrick, Phil Wainewright and myself, have been talking about the concept of Enterprise Mashup. See my earlier posts on Enterprise Mashups and Situated Software and Lightweight Enterprise. I also wrote a piece on Lightweight Enterprise for the CBDI Journal (April 2006).

The concept of Enterprise Mashup is now given greater credibility by the emergence of server-side platforms that can support some aspects of it. A number of interesting developments within the last week. IBM unveiled a prototype technology, and claimed this had the potential to develop custom applications in five minutes. (Press Release. Comments by Dion, James and Joe.)

Meanwhile, Phil reported praise for Microsoft Vista as an alternative platform for doing enterprise-class mashups.

Most of the short-term interest seems to be in mashing internal and external services for use inside the enterprise. There is clearly a huge untapped opportunity here. Employees of large companies find it increasingly hard to accept (and CIOs find it increasingly hard to justify) that the free internet provides so much faster and more flexible access to richer sources of information and services than their expensive corporate systems do. Meanwhile, many of the companies that are providing free services over the internet would love to be paid to provide similar services behind corporate firewalls.

The longer-term opportunities may lie in mashing services between partners. Obviously nobody is going to form a strategic joint venture in five minutes, but the possibility of joining systems and services together very rapidly could have considerable strategic value.

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