There was an interesting comment on my blog piece concerning MashUps becoming a commodity suggesting that this would have an impact on the business of Capgemini. The comment suggested that this would be a negative presumably based on simplification, but as my reply indicated on the other hand it does create a whole range of new high value business opportunities, many of which I am not sure have been fully identified.
Some are easy to identify and a great example to me is using Google earth as the basis for a whole new generation of geospatial applications: www.enterprisehorizons.com. However these are business critical applications to many enterprises such as Utilities so though it may be a MashUp it’s not exactly going to be a user driven off the web creation. The presentation is pure MashUp but the organisation and representation of the core data to be laid over Google Earth is a systematic professional job, hence why there is a market for tools such as the Enterprise Horizons example.
What this shows to me is that there are two sides to the business use of MashUps, the way the user has them presented, or chooses to create their own presentation, and the way the enterprise chooses and exposes the data to be used. The latter side also means managing, securing and updating the chosen data, as a new form of publish and subscribe. This latter set of tasks may well include the choice of, and authentication of, external data from outside the enterprise, after all if the enterprise is responsible for data it latter uses in its ‘transactions’ under the compliance rules.
However this is still all a relatively recognisable use of technology to improve current activities, but what really interests me is the possibilities for an entirely new set of capabilities to attack currently unaddressed business needs. My example is an office of European Union Agricultural Subsidy inspectors whose work is highly subjective around consideration of a wide range of factors that they assess based on experience. The office covers a known geographic region, and the input materials consist of anything from photos to maps, past payments to external information sources and critically the increasing use of the internet and web as the basis for online claim submission.
Something like www.spikesource.com bundles all the web 2.0 collaboration tools together, but the real value lies in the use of tagging through ‘Folkonomies’ to allow all content to be stored and retrieved as the Inspectors see its value, think www.flickr.com for photos as an example. The shift from ‘machine’ named files to ‘user’ named puts a very different value on any and all pieces of content and their reuse. Okay not so revolutionary perhaps, but this is an official government regulated business and therefore must be able to prove what was done and how.
This leads to REST, Representational State Transfer, and this has the capability to ensure that a procedure can be followed in the use of content. This makes it possible to ensure that our inspectors see the right content, may be the content used in the last evaluation, in the right order and at the right time, as well as being able to use the ‘power of the crowd’ (as fellow blogger Ron calls it in his blog piece) to locate and use new information. This is a valuable new approach to using structured and unstructured content both objectively and subjectively and brings help to some currently difficult work.
Now that is what really interests me, and makes me think about a new generation of opportunities too!