MashUp Corporations – the shape of Business to come?

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Oracle Open World was the scene for the launch of the Book; ‘MashUp Corporations; the end of business as usual’. After almost exactly a year to be handed an actual physical copy of the book that you spent so much effort in producing is an amazing experience, and to be able to get together with […]

Oracle Open World was the scene for the launch of the Book; ‘MashUp Corporations; the end of business as usual’. After almost exactly a year to be handed an actual physical copy of the book that you spent so much effort in producing is an amazing experience, and to be able to get together with two of your three co writers, Chris S. Thomas and Dan Woods, for a book signing was fun. Sadly our fourth co-writer Paul Kurchina was in China on business, we missed him at this very personal moment, especially since he had been the man with ‘the idea’. More gratifying was the fact that we were rushed off our feet by people wanting their copies of the book signed, but enough of the personal piece. What made four people want to get together a year ago to write this book, that’s what I want to share.

Paul’s the leader for the SAP Users association, and he had a very simple but profound point to make in October 2005; ‘everyone is talking about SOA, saying that it’s the next big thing, a game changer for business, but when pressed they all fall back into products, so where’s the guide book?’ Well Chris, who at that time was chief strategist for Intel, and I, fell for this with the usual; ‘yes but you don’t understand’ reply. As Paul pointed out he wasn’t the only one, and so the idea for the book was born. It took the first four months or so to figure out how this book needed to be different, after all even a year ago there was a glut of books on SOA as a technology, or even on ‘new wave’ type business models.
What was needed was a hybrid book for the growing number of hybrid managers, those technologists who are business aware, and the growing numbers of business managers who are technology literate; but how to write it? That’s where Dan came on the scene, and showed us how to tell a very, very, readable story of around 200 pages that would get the points across. The format is to show what does ‘good’ look like, what does a Business using all the technologies now currently available manage to do what it couldn’t do before, and how does that make for more sales revenues, better margins etc. In short how is it an SOE, a Services Enabled Business, rather than just a business using SOA to deliver what it does now in a different and, hopefully more effective manner.
We invented an imaginary company called ‘Vorpal’, a manufacturer of white goods for food preparation with a Popcorn Popper as one of its key product lines, and a cast of people covering all the major business roles from CEO to CIO; Sales, Marketing, Purchasing people, they are all there. The story is how Hugo Wunderkind, a sub 30 year old Internet generation, member of the marketing department had the idea to sell the Pop-Matic in a very different way. The fact that this was possible is due to a combination of technologies from Web 2.0 to SOA, and of course to the growing popularity of AJAX with the ability to make MashUps, but to Hugo like so many Generation Y people the technology is irrelevant, its just the way they live their lives and do things, at work or at play.
Unfortunately it’s not the way that the CIO is supposed to do things, and just as when the PC arrived to confront the Data Centre manager, the reaction is to try to stop users doing these things with these new, and rather worryingly unsafe tools. Well it didn’t work for the Data Centre manager in trying to stop the adoption of the PC, the users went right ahead and did things, the business backed them, the Data Centre manager lost, the term IT appeared, and the role of the CIO was born, and the business model was changed forever with matrix working etc. It’s happening again in almost every business right now, and in the book Jane Moneymaker, the CEO of Vorpal, backs Hugo against the Josh Lovecraft, the CIO, because she wants the extra markets, and revenue. People have told us that this is their reality too, and they don’t know what to do about it, indeed it seems some CIOs already fear they could go the way of the Data Centre manager as their CEOs are introducing Chief Process Officers!
The book tells the tale of how Vorpal handled the changes through the people and their meetings, e-mails, etc. as they discussed, fought, and ultimately figured out what to do, to safely get that new revenue, and still run their existing business and IT systems. In each chapter the story ends with some rules for your own internal discussions on the topics with colleagues, and from feedback so far it seems to work! Given the demand for copies seems we succeeded in the same way by inventing a new style of business book, easy and rapid to read, but with rules that can be used afterwards to make it happen. And yes, Josh Lovecraft, the CIO not only survives, but plays an important part in the new world.
If you do recognise this scenario and it interests you to know more then there are two options; you can see the Vorpal team live acting out their concerns, and their final solution, as a keynote at Oracle Open World ; or you can go to to read more and buy a copy of the book.
Btw all royalties from the book sales go to charity so this is not an advertisement!

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