As I wrote last year, this "web as platform" gospel is starting to spread quickly from consumer to thoughts on the enterprise. In my mind, what has enabled this enterprise web phenonomenon has been two thoughts – lightweight and simple. Of course, lightweight and simple equals cheap and fast to implement. It is quite easy now for sophisticated users to find and download new software and run it themselves, for them to take simple scripts and tie together various web apps. We are quickly moving to a world where the end user on the edge can and has taken matters into his own hands rather than wait for IT to get something done for them. I call this the age of DIY (do it yourself) in the Enterprise. Why go through centralized IT and their processes when I can get something done with my own departmental budget? Linux, Jboss, and many of the open source opportunities started at the edges first before being brought into the centralized IT organization. As we all know, many new technologies are typically adopted by consumers and then pulled into the enterprise, not pushed. Amazon and other web apps started exposing their APIs and existed long before Salesforce.com.
Jeff Nolan points to an interesting post from John Hagel which highlights this changing enterprise world. What has been deemed as the agile enterprise driven by SOA has actually turned into anything but. The enterprise version of "lightweight" called SOA stands in stark contrast to the next generation web perspective of lightweight. As John correctly points out, enterprise lightweight in the form of SOA means plumbing, it means expensive, it means complex, it means lots of consultants, and it means lots of dollars. In contrast, next generation web technologies are easy, incremental, and driven by the edge and focused on people, not plumbing. While some of these next generation apps may not scale, there is clearly something that centralized IT can learn from the edge, their frustrated internal customer, that things can get done more quickly and more cheaply. As these two philosophies become more tightly coupled we will have some interesting opportunities to invest and make money. While not directly related to this SOA/web mashup discussion, one of the companies I have always found interesting is Splunk which is bringing a Google-like approach to network management. It is downloaded, driven by the edge user, and then pulled into the corporation from the bottom-up rather than the top-down. It stands in stark contrast to EMC’s (Smarts) and IBM’s (Micromuse) way of selling and using their respective products. There will be many more opportunities like this in the enterprise as enterpreneurs leverage user interfaces and technology from the consumer world in the enterprise. Of course, this means a whole new way of reaching customers (frictionless sales), selling to them, and supporting them but this is saved for another future post. The good news is that this new age of DIY in the Enterprise is not going away and is only getting stronger everyday. This also means the creation of many more disruptive enterprise software opportunities in the next 5 years. I agree with Jeff that this is an interesting area to watch and is beyond web mashups-rather, it is a philosophy enabled by all of this new technology, the philosophy of DIY in the Enterprise.