Web 2.0 – Social Web and The Enterprise

[Cross Posted from JackBe blog]

While there are varied agreements about what Web 2.0 is all about, in this short presentation on ZDNet, Andy Gutsman (from Zend) concisely lists the following three enablers of Web 2.0:
• RIA – to bring the experience of desktop applications to the browser
• SOA – to enable by exposing services including mashups
• Social Web –where the end user is the integral part of the data and applications

That’s interesting. I have a few comments on the above. While talking to customers and analysts, it seems there is a sense that many equate Web 2.0 to Ajax/RIA in some sense. I work at JackBe, which started out as an Ajax company. While I am happy to hear the above association of Web 2.0 to Ajax/RIA, I would like to reiterate that Web 2.0 != Ajax or RIA. Just by putting a RIA face on your enterprise applications will not make your applications Web 2.0.

The second item above, SOA, is interesting as well. Over the last few years, many enterprises have been aggressively adopting SOA with the goal of realizing all the business benefits it can unleash if implemented correctly. But most of these SOA efforts have been focused primarily on enabling the integration efforts inside and outside the enterprise. I came to JackBe with a background of SOA along with my colleagues John Crupi and Dan Malks, and we see a strong association between Ajax and SOA and that is the area we are currently focused on at JackBe to realizing the conjoined benefits of Ajax and SOA. In other words, unlocking the potential of SOA by synergizing it with Ajax.

But I will admit, that in some ways, I am still scratching my head a bit about the third item in the list above, the Social Web, in the context of an Enterprise. In the consumer Web 2.0 space, the concept of Social Web is associated with wikis, blogging, and other aspects of sharing such as tagging, ranking and so forth. But, most enterprise applications are primarily aimed at enabling their employees and to some extent their partners. Think CRM, Sales force applications, support/help desk, ERP, Supply Chain, etc. When it comes to enabling cross-enterprise integration, most applications tend to expose service interfaces, be it proprietary or standards-based. There is no notion of a social web in this context yet. Sure there are burgeoning arguments over Enterprise 2.0 here and here about the Wikipedia’s Enterprise Social Software. But that entry on wikipedia still lacks depth and credibility.

So, What does Social Web mean to the enterprise? I have some ideas still in early stage, but I want to hear from you first. I will try to elaborate on my ideas at a later time. Meanwhile, tell me what you know, will you?

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