|By Dennis D. McDonald||
|April 15, 2006 03:00 AM EDT||
That doesn’t mean there’s agreement yet on what the term means. This is one of the reasons we’re hearing about “enterprise resistance” to Web 2.0 applications (more on this below).
Web 2.0, after all, means different things to different people:
- To the programmer, it’s a set of tools and techniques that have the potential for fundamentally altering how network based applications and data are developed, managed, and delivered.
- For start-ups and venture capitalists, it’s an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of another “bubble.”
- For the corporate CIO or IT manager, it’s another set of technologies and architectures to be adopted and supported in an era of continued I.T. department budget strains.
- For newer or smaller companies, it’s an opportunity to acquire technical and business process infrastructure at a fraction of the cost of the investments made by older and legacy companies.
- For the marketing manager it’s an opportunity to “end-run” a traditionally unresponsive I.T. department.
- For the customer it’s an opportunity to establish and maintain relationships that are both personally fulfilling and empowering in the face of the traditional power of larger institutions.
- For the CEO of an established legacy industry company, it’s a threat of loss of control over customer relations.
With so many perspectives, it's no wonder that it's difficult to get a clear picture. We’re dealing not only with shifting technical architectures but also with shifts in how individuals and organization use the Internet. We know that different industries adopt technology at different rates. In the case of Web 2.0, we're talking not just about changes in technology and associated business processes, but also about changes in the relationships that are built around how systems are developed and used.
Reality: Things Don't Always Work
My personal interest in this subject is anything but academic. As a management consultant I help companies plan and manage changes to technology and processes. With Web 2.0 the opportunity for change is massive.
This change is not going to happen overnight. There’s always a risk when a new technical architecture is introduced. Part of the risk is getting components of the architecture into the hands of the users. Another is making sure those components work reliably.
I was reminded of this recently when my wife called about an email she had received that contained a link to something she couldn't read: "I'm trying to show an attachment to an e-mail I got from a client but I can't. I called her to ask what to do and she told me to make sure that 'flash was turned on'. What does she mean by "flash?"
I explained what "Flash" from Macromedia is and fixed her problem, but not until she had experienced a significant delay in communicating with a prospective client -- all because a popular web browser add-in wasn't properly configured.
This got me to thinking about the current evangelizing that is swirling around Web 2.0, AJAX, SOA, and tools like Ruby on Rails, a web application development framework. I've been impressed with the mass of available applications that offer sophisticated functionality without requiring a "heavy client footprint." Just check out Christian Mayaud's list of Web 2.0 applications if you want to be amazed (and amused).
I thought back to my wife's question. "Flash" is one of those "helper" applications that an entire industry and developer community has grown up around. It's now firmly a part of the Internet infrastructure. That wasn't always the case. As I saw with my wife's question, there are still "pockets" of users where an unknown – but simple -- configuration setting can cause the final step in a complex communication channel to fail.
Parallels with Web 2.0
This got me to thinking about what has to happen each time an AJAX based application is used. Some current "mashups" might be combining widely available public data. With "enterprise" types of applications we might be talking about the over-the-web handling of valuable -- or sensitive -- personal or financial data. Reliability and stability of all parts of the server, net, and client will be critical. All will have to work together to ensure reliable two-way interaction.
Is uncertainty about this reliability one of the reasons why some corporate IT managers are taking a wait-and-see attitude about "web 2.0"? My wife's temporary problem with a supposedly mature piece of the web infrastructure is probably not too unusual. There are many users out there who work day in and day out without paying special attention to extensions, helper applications, thin clients, RSS feeds, and the like. There are probably a lot of them for whom managing the vicissitudes of a commonly available component such as Flash is at best, an annoyance.
In theory, the population of users like my wife might be a prime target of the Web 2.0 delivered rich functionality for remotely served applications such as are sometimes referred to as "Web Office" or Office 2.0. Technologies such as AJAX (and Flash, ActiveX, and Java, as well) help deliver near-desktop-quality functionality (some may argue with the adjective "near") without requiring the permanent installation of massive amounts of (expensively-licensed) software on the client machine. I’m sure that many corporate I.T. folks view potential simplification of the client’s configuration as A Good Thing, right?
But lots of dice have to roll the right way for all parts of the channel to work every time. Sometimes problems occur, as my wife's experience attests -- and she was dealing with one of the oldest and most venerable components for delivering rich media content.
(I think of issues related to this every time I switch over from Yahoo's old-but-serviceable Web Mail interface to the Yahoo! Mail Beta. I'm using the Yahoo! Mail Beta via my office DSL connection, and I always have to wait for data to load. And while I love the "drag and drop" functionality the Yahoo! Mail Beta interface provides, the hesitation of the interface grates after a while, especially when handling as much daily e-mail as I do.)
Are Internet users willing to accept such performance glitches "outside the firewall" in order to gain access to an attractive interface and functionality that looks like it's running from a local client?
I suspect my wife won't. She may not be a “power user,” but her standards for performance are high. (I know - I hear about it whenever our home network slows down!)
Web 2.0 Enterprise Hurdles
If Web 2.0 applications built around AJAX and related technologies are to succeed in the "enterprise" several dice have to roll the right way, such as:
Tools, development, and testing processes must continue to mature (this is happening). Tools, development, and testing processes must be accepted into the enterprise -- in addition to, or in replacement of, the architectures that are already there (e.g., how many development platforms is an IT department willing to support?) Data security and stability issues must be solved -- especially when it comes to handling sensitive customer and financial data.
The new architecture must deliver -- and have documented -- (a) reduced costs, (b) added benefits, or (c) both (a) and (b).
Company executives must be willing to accept a new network architecture paradigm along with its frequent association with "social networking" functionality that many people are still not comfortable with.
Except for the last bullet point, the issues here are similar to issues associated with the introduction of any new programming language or development framework into the enterprise. The costs of changes to process and technologies have to be outweighed by the promised benefits. In that sense, AJAX is no different from other evangelized technologies that have come before, except that the Web now provides (potentially) the data, delivery platform, and the medium for promotion (and hype) – outside the firewall.
More Than Technical Architecture Challenges
I’m going to make a leap of faith here and predict that issues of security, reliability, maintainability, privacy, and functionality that are associated with web based Web 2.0 applications are going to be successfully addressed and resolved. Call me optimistic, but there’s a lot of creativity out there and I believe that current technical challenges will be overcome, and quickly.
But let's return to that last bullet point in the above section. One of the most astute descriptions of Web 2.0 adoption is the recent blog article by Thad Scheer of Sphere of Influence called Monetizing Value of Social Computing in Traditional Industries. (Author disclosure: Thad is a friend of mine.)
Thad is the CEO of a DC-area consulting firm that serves both government and corporate customers. He bases his statements on what he sees as resistance from traditional "brick and mortar" industries to adopting a new customer relationship paradigm. According to Thad, the executives of these industries see Web 2.0 as reducing their control over their data and their customer relationships, especially when "social networking" functionality is included in the mix. (Some of my own Web 2.0 Management Survey interviews have borne this view out.)
While Thad goes on to assess the more willing acceptance of Web 2.0 by newer firms and more consumer product oriented firms, the issues he points out are not issues of technical architecture, they are issues of functionality and the expectations executives have of how they relate to their customers.
It’s entirely reasonable that certain population segments and certain types of business transactions will be thought by corporate executives as being outside the realm of either existing or Web 2.0 infrastructures. Not every business transaction can -- or should -- be handled electronically, nor does it need to be handled in a fashion that increases a sense of intimacy.
Change Comes Fast
Changes to social interactions and to network infrastructure usually can't happen overnight. But pressure to adopt more collaborative and interactive techniques based on "social software," even with populations that might have traditionally been thought of as being resistant to such approaches, might develop faster than some people think. In particular, knowledge workers inside and outside even the traditional industries will expect more conversational and interactive communications both within their companies and with the companies -- and customers -- they deal with. Management will need to adapt to the fact that employees are now able to engage with customers more frequently and on a more personal level than ever before. This engagement can lead to loyalty.
Companies will respond differently depending on their structures, management styles, and regulatory constraints. Some will have a small number of "CEO-style" blogs with commenting "turned off." Some will organize groups of staff members to interact in a structured fashion with different groups of users with management structures potentially modeled after high end professional call centers. Still others will engage all staff to interact as a normal part of their job (just like answering the phone). Some may adopt Web 2.0 technologies but only within the corporate organization itself.
In many cases, the I.T. department will be called upon to evaluate and if necessary provide support for technology platforms that may interface -- reliably and safely -- with other corporate systems.
Competition Spurs Change
Will the "brick and mortar" businesses that Thad writes about just sit by while smaller and more agile competitors, who have much less invested in legacy infrastructure, nibble away at their businesses?
I don't think so. It's from such competitors that the pressure on traditional companies to adopt "Enterprise Web 2.0" most likely will come.
I am not prepared to rule out the ability of even large “legacy” companies to adopt the faster, more open and agile ways of smaller competitors. In fact, the ability to effectively innovate and manage using collaborative technologies that incorporate social networking methods may turn out to be the next “big thing” in management, comparable to the quality improvement movements spawned in the 20th century by foreign competition to U.S. manufacturing. This might even rival – and compete with – the current resources being put into process and system outsourcing.
The wave of change will not be limited to manufacturing but will impact all sizes and types of industries that need to communicate with their customers. That’s everyone.
How to Move Forward
OK, so much for analysis, let’s get practical. The following is my advice to managers, executives, and employees who want to take advantage of Web 2.0 technologies:
- Start small. Do a prototype, not an enterprise rollout. Focus on early results based on well defined, achievable goals.
- Involve both business and IT. Even if you can negotiate deals with externally software vendors without the involvement of your IT department, don’t do it. Your IT department probably has more experience with knowing what might go wrong than you do!
- Minimize integration complexity. Don’t start with a project that requires manipulation of the company’s “crown jewel” financial or customer data. Keep it simple.
- Focus on business benefits. Don’t do something because it’s free, easy, or nice to know. Focus on a system that supports the financial or strategic goals of your organization. It’s always easier to justify costs associated with money making activities than costs associated with overhead and administration.
- Know your costs. Even if you’re using existing staff, existing networks, existing hardware, and free software, don’t pretend that time and infrastructure are free. Keep track of staff, user, and support staff time. If you’re successful with your initial project you’ll have to translate these into dollars.
- Use the technology. Practice what you preach. If you’re experimenting with web based tools for customer communication, use web based tools to support project management and staff communication.
- Face issues headlong. Have a process to track and resolve all business, personal, and technical issues that arise during the course of the project.
- Don’t demonize the opposition. Opposition to Web 2.0 may be justified. Listen and find out what the core issues really are, surface them, and address them.
- Remember it’s a business. Even if you’re working with collaborative software that supports personalization, relationships, and intimacy, remember that there needs to be a reasonable line drawn between business and personal matters.
- Manage. Don’t just toss the technology into the user community. Be prepared to guide, give feedback and, where necessary, lead. Remember: no matter what project management philosophy you follow, projects don’t manage themselves, especially projects where you are breaking new technological or cultural ground.
|Mahendrap 11/25/09 03:09:00 AM EST|
"2.0" denotes enabling "interactivity" to web based applications. And, many things enable this interactivity, whether Ajax, or something else.
Once can cut the noise about debating what 2.0 means and focus on how enabling "interactivity" to existing contexts like content, users and commerce can throw up interesting solutions.
It is possible to roll out sub 15K Proof of concepts in web 2.0 in any context before the investor worries about ROI. A lot of Social Media Consultants and sometimes Web 2.0 Platform vendors are all doing it. Keep looking.
|jgo 05/04/06 02:10:37 PM EDT|
LAMP is good. AJAX is evil.
|Dennis D. McDonald 04/18/06 12:39:03 PM EDT|
AUTHOR NOTE: My "acknowledgement" pararaph was inadvertantly omitted from the above article: "Rod Boothby, Chris Law, Jeremiah Owyang, Luis Suarez, and Ken Yarmosh were all kind enough to share their insights with me as I refined the article."
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
Feb. 26, 2017 03:45 PM EST Reads: 2,637
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, I provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading the...
Feb. 26, 2017 03:30 PM EST Reads: 8,870
"Storage is growing. All of IDC's estimates say that unstructured data is now 80% of the world's data. We provide storage systems that can actually deal with that scale of data - software-defined storage systems," stated Paul Turner, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Cloudian, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 17th Cloud Expo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Feb. 26, 2017 02:30 PM EST Reads: 7,071
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Feb. 26, 2017 02:30 PM EST Reads: 2,428
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Feb. 26, 2017 01:30 PM EST Reads: 2,339
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Feb. 26, 2017 01:15 PM EST Reads: 1,821
Have you ever noticed how some IT people seem to lead successful, rewarding, and satisfying lives and careers, while others struggle? IT author and speaker Don Crawley uncovered the five principles that successful IT people use to build satisfying lives and careers and he shares them in this fast-paced, thought-provoking webinar. You'll learn the importance of striking a balance with technical skills and people skills, challenge your pre-existing ideas about IT customer service, and gain new in...
Feb. 26, 2017 01:00 PM EST Reads: 3,011
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitrons Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Hitrons Solutions Inc. is distributor in the North American market for unique products and services of small and medium-size businesses, including cloud services and solutions, SEO marketing platforms, and mobile applications.
Feb. 26, 2017 12:45 PM EST Reads: 576
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
Feb. 26, 2017 12:45 PM EST Reads: 6,406
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Feb. 26, 2017 11:30 AM EST Reads: 6,675
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Steve Wilkes, CTO and founder of Striim, will delve into four enterprise-scale, business-critical case studies where streaming analytics serves as the key to enabling real-time data integration and right-time insights in hybrid cloud, IoT, and fog computing environments. As part of this discussion, he will also present a demo based on its partnership with Fujitsu, highlighting their technologies in a healthcare IoT use-case. The demo showcases the tracking of patie...
Feb. 26, 2017 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,323
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business. Though, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected with a majority of IoT projects having failed. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief IoTologist at Wipro, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology portfolios and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will delve in...
Feb. 26, 2017 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,764
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outlyer, a monitoring service for DevOps and operations teams, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Outlyer is a monitoring service for DevOps and Operations teams running Cloud, SaaS, Microservices and IoT deployments. Designed for today's dynamic environments that need beyond cloud-scale monitoring, we make monitoring effortless so you...
Feb. 26, 2017 10:30 AM EST Reads: 2,411
Unsecured IoT devices were used to launch crippling DDOS attacks in October 2016, targeting services such as Twitter, Spotify, and GitHub. Subsequent testimony to Congress about potential attacks on office buildings, schools, and hospitals raised the possibility for the IoT to harm and even kill people. What should be done? Does the government need to intervene? This panel at @ThingExpo New York brings together leading IoT and security experts to discuss this very serious topic.
Feb. 26, 2017 09:15 AM EST Reads: 3,105
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the...
Feb. 26, 2017 09:15 AM EST Reads: 5,489
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
Feb. 26, 2017 09:15 AM EST Reads: 1,611
“We're a global managed hosting provider. Our core customer set is a U.S.-based customer that is looking to go global,” explained Adam Rogers, Managing Director at ANEXIA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Feb. 26, 2017 08:45 AM EST Reads: 2,318
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, introduced the technologies required for implementing these idea...
Feb. 26, 2017 08:00 AM EST Reads: 6,985
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
Feb. 26, 2017 06:00 AM EST Reads: 5,911
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and G...
Feb. 26, 2017 06:00 AM EST Reads: 4,477