I guess many people will know of, or have read, Don Tapscott, and Anthony Williams, book ‘Wikinomics’, a fascinating look at ‘How Mass Collaboration changes everything’ which describes impacts on business models, and companies. It has become something of an industry standard piece. I use what I call ‘Googlenomics’, the following Google’s progress through changing the web technology world in a not dissimilar way. There is no other player continually experimenting on the open web to try, test, new ideas and concepts in the actual market in quite the same way. Google Labs philosophy is quite simple, if it looks interesting let’s put it out there and see if others agree.
All of this is perfectly in line with the well known Google management practice of giving their staff a set allocation of time each week to follow their own inclinations in figuring out new cool ways to use the Web. Many commentators have dwelt on this point, questioning if this is a new business model for the ‘intellectual property’ based business with continuous R&D embedded into the very operating fabric of the whole business. Maybe, put it sure helps if the shareholders are happy with the money you are making, then you have the freedom to try a lot of things!
On my copy of Wikinomics at the very top there is a quote from the CEO of Procter & Gamble saying that ‘It is a very important book’, plus of course the reasons why. Well P&G are a pretty well established, traditional business, so hardly fall into the ‘hot and new’ bracket of Google, but they are also into ‘Googlenomics’ it seems. In a wonderful case of truly showing how everything is connected here, is Don Tapscott of Wikinomics fame commenting on P& G swapping staff with Google for both teams to learn in each others companies! This move to improve P&G use of the Web in retail also was considered interesting enough for the Wall Street Journal to report it.
Given that P&G has a massive advertising budget that certainly is a great example of how to build client ‘intimacy’ by Google, but what else does a bit of ‘Googlenomics’ show is happening? Firstly, and I might as well get it out of the way now, that I was wrong back in August to believe they might have another Google Maps type of service in Google Lively, a usable set of ‘on demand’ virtual meeting rooms. The service has been formally ended as of the end of November with the comment of insufficient use, and little up take by the Technology Industry to build services on and around it. However it does prove the soundness of following ‘Googlenomics’ to see if an opinion translates into fact!
It is the Google moves on making MashUps secure that really interests me, because we can assume when Google gets behind something in its mainstream business then numbers count, and it will become a defacto approach. Sometime last year a number of website operators made an announcement around their belief in a new standard called OAuth which they were promoting as a necessary approach to allow one site to securely access specific data on another web site. The increasing amount of MashUps, or straight forward access of Web pages, meant that something was needed to ensure that a request was authenticated against access to a specific set of content, and only that content. In Google’s case their move into Google Health offering shared content services to a wide variety of health professionals it seems was the trigger for this.
Any site supporting Open Social really ought to adopt OAuth and MySpace have this as part of their APIs complete with developer notes and a good applied example of setting up a new service using OAuth, in this case a dating site.
Back to Google, and its business of providing ‘services’ that can be consumed in MashUps, or through Cloud Services as we move forward. Google started off by offering developer assistance for third parties to work with them on the development of a further range of Gadgets for iGoogle. Now they have moved to making the whole Gadget platform fully OAuth compliant, proving this in multi way interoperability standards tests with AOL, and MySpace, both of whom have also announced new iGoogle Gadgets for their own platforms too.
I reckon OpenSocial + OAuth + Google support = a recognisable shift in the ability to extend the use of MashUps with Google showing the way in solutions such as Google Health. Yup Google is showing us the way here I think!