|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."
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Sep. 30, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,696
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, 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. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Sep. 30, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,479
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
Sep. 30, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,263
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
Sep. 30, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 474
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
Sep. 30, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,257
“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.
Sep. 30, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,219
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Sep. 30, 2016 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 5,157
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
Sep. 30, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,091
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of (at least) three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the back-end service, and the mobile application for the end user’s controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target –...
Sep. 30, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,568
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Sep. 30, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 503
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
Sep. 30, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 553
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Sep. 30, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,992
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Sep. 30, 2016 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,761
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
Sep. 30, 2016 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 775
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
Sep. 30, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 592
24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to connect your brand strategy with the right consumer. 24Notion ranked #12 on Corporate Social Responsibility - Book of List.
Sep. 30, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 265
Sep. 30, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 273
SYS-CON Events announced today that CDS Global Cloud, an Infrastructure as a Service provider, 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. CDS Global Cloud is an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provider specializing in solutions for e-commerce, internet gaming, online education and other internet applications. With a growing number of data centers and network points around the world, ...
Sep. 30, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,036
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, 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. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Sep. 30, 2016 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,361
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT de...
Sep. 30, 2016 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,297