Wednesday, February 6, 2008

More 2008 predictions from the 'unnamed analyst'

Let me start out by congratulating Encanvas. They have joined JackBe in the illustrious group of mashup vendors who won’t let me review their mashup tools for this blog. Here’s what they had to say when I asked.
As Serena is a close competitor to Encanvas I’m not sure that would be appropriate but we have the greatest admiration for any organization that is encouraging agile computing and it’s great to have competition - so keep doing good things.

The funny thing is that as far as I can tell, Serena’s never been in a deal against Encanvas. Competition. It’s all in the mind.

And now for something completely different

The 2008 prediction machines are still at it, although I assume now that we are into February we will see them less often. One leading analyst firm, whose name I can’t give you since they would require I run this post through their vendor relations department, has made Web 2.0 predictions for 2008. Hint: They aren’t Gartner. As in the past, I’ll just call them the Unknown Analyst. (UA)

Here’s their 2008 mashup predictions.

  • Mashup vendors will start seeing a return on their investment in 2008, but at the expense of other Web 2.0 technologies.
Bloomberg at ZapThink already made a similar prediction. And just as I did before, I must disagree. 2009 will be the year of mashups rather than 2008. I hope to be wrong, but I don’t think I will be. Web 2.0 is just emerging into the enterprise, and mashups will be at the tail end of Web 2.0 spending. RSS, wikis, blogs and social networks are all going to be on the short list for 2008, with mashups entering the list in a big way in 2009.

  • Enterprise mashups will come out of the closet, and the vendors who influence standards boards and best articulate mashup value will set market expectations.
My take is that standards boards aren’t going to make a big difference. If mashups were stressing technology to IT customers, then standards would be important. But we need to remember that mashup customers will likely come from the business side of the house. Business users don’t give a hoot about mashup standards for security, widgets, REST contracts, etc. These are vendor problems the vendors need to solve.

However, while I disagree with the notion that standards board leadership will make much of a difference in market leadership, I completely agree that articulating mashup value will make a difference. If I can convince you that mashups will help you leverage your SOA investments to build those applications now languishing at the bottom of IT’s priority list, then I will likely get your business. If I can't convince you, then I won't.
  • Vendors from adjacent markets such as EAI and portals will enter the mashup fray in 2008. Pure-play Web 2.0 vendors will be the losers because big players like Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and HP will Web 2.0-enable their current offerings.
This is a very interesting prediction. In effect it says that stand-alone Web 2.0 technologies don’t matter as much as Web 2.0 technologies in the context of existing business problems. So will I need a social network solution in my company if my BI vendor puts one in the reporting portal? Do I need a stand-alone enterprise RSS solution if my existing reporting tools, Sharepoint and CRM vendors add the ability to export notifications as RSS or Atom feeds?

I think, for the most part, the answer is ‘no.’ Enterprises will be able to make do with Web 2.0 features added to existing vendor offereings. At least when combined with open source readers, wikis and blogs.

But mashups? I don’t think so.

Consider a scenario. Assume you want to pull your financial information together with lead data from CRM, marketing program plans from MRM and historical statistical information from BI. You also want to wrap a process around these data to calculate whether a program will generate the number of leads necessary, and alert Marketing to take action when it looks like a program will not meet expectations. If you were depending on one or the other of these tools to provide a mashup platform, you wouldn’t have a unified end-user experience, your process would be dictated by the host tool you happened to choose, and you would end up with the same point-to-point integration problems that have been causing headaches since the dawn of applications development.

In other words, you would have an integration, not a mashup.

So while I agree that some Web 2.0 technologies such as social networking, wikis and blogs may not be good long-term product strategies for independent pure-play vendors, I think mashups have a chance.

Right up to the point where they are purchased by one of those big guys, something not predicted by UA.

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