As we have seen since the inception of ProgrammableWeb, there has been an explosion of APIs and mashups on the Web in the last few years. The ever-increasing number of APIs have made available a variety of valuable services, from maps to shopping to news to photos, and everything else in between. And in similar fashion, it seems that corporate and public organizations have increasingly adopted enterprise mashups to realize a variety of benefits, including improved operations and cost savings.
Although enterprise mashups may not yet be ubiquitous, a few recent blog posts and articles highlight the fact that enterprise mashups are indeed still gaining momentum as corporations and governments slowly (though steadily) adopt the use of web APIs and mashups as part of what is now commonly being referred to as Entrerprise 2.0.
In "Enterprise mashups bring IT, LOB collaboration to BPM" Lauren Kelly details how organizations are using enterprise mashup tools to streamline business process management (BPM). In her article, Kelly discusses how the U.S. Forest Service benefited from the use of enterprise mashups:
The service reconstructed some help desk processes with Serena mashup software, and it estimates it saved nearly forty process hours while clearing duplicate help desk tickets. The result was a better link between business and IT departments.
Kelly's article further discusses the likely convergence of enterprise mashups with traditional IT, which will give way to a hybrid approach to managing an organization's information.
In "Enterprise 2.0: Wiki While You Work" Matthew Fraser discusses the ongoing adoption and investment that corporations are making in Enterprise 2.0, including mashups. According to Fraser, Forrester Research has some interesting forecast figures for corporate spending on Web 2.0 software:
Forrester nonetheless forecasts robust corporate spending on Web 2.0 software—including blogs, mashups, podcasts, RSS, widgets and wikis. It projects consolidated Web 2.0 spending growth at 43% annually—from $ 764 million in 2008 to $ 4.6 billion in 2013. Still, it can hardly be claimed that Fortune 500 companies—with the exception of a small clutch of leading-edge giants like IBM—are stampeding to join a Web 2.0 juggernaut. Moreover, while $ 4.6 billion looks like a big number, it's only a tiny fraction—less than 1%—of global corporate spending on enterprise software. That's not an Enterprise 2.0 revolution. At best, it's cautious evolution.
Thus it appears that within the greater context of corporate IT spending, enterprise mashups (and other Web 2.0 "software") will continue to grow rapidly in the next five years, albeit not enough to comprise a significant majority of corporate IT.
As Gartner analyst Anthony Bradley discusses in "You Can’t Build a Business Case for Enterprise Mashups," it is difficult to build a universal case for enterprise mashups, although specific business cases for mashups continue to emerge. According to Bradley:
Like social software, you can’t build a universal business case for mashups but need to examine how you can apply mashups to gain business value. In other words, although you can’t build a general business case for mashups, you can build a specific mashup-centric business cases.
With today’s economic climate business cases are becoming more of a requirement to gain IT funding. Whereas I used to hear clients talk more about the use case for mashups as enabling new types of applications, now I hear clients asking more about how they can save money with mashups. I talk to them about looking at their application and Integration project portfolios for the mashup 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule for mashups being the identification of application delivery or integration projects where mashups can deliver an 80% solution at 20% the cost (or less).
In his summary post on the Enterprise 2.0 2009 conference, Paul Greenberg discusses how the maturity of web services has given way to enterprise mashups. As Greenberg describes, the role of enterprise mashups has changed:
Well, the role of enterprise mashups and applications has changed and that is apparent from the Enterprise 2.0 conference. First, on the technology side, to understand this, we have to give props to the evolution and increasing maturity of service oriented architectures and RESTful architectures - and - really, web services in general. They are to the point where not only are they mature as frameworks and underpinnings for corporate technology backbones, but they are more easily (though, of course, nothing is that easy) integratable then ever before. Second, the standards for communication between systems have been, well, standardized. J2EE, XML, etc are so ordinarily accepted that interoperability among systems and even between disparate companies systems is now a doable thing.
Greenberg mentions that the ability to use enterprise mashups to easily process and present information is what makes Enterprise 2.0 an attractive proposition for corporations:
So taking the complexity out of both the processing and the presentation of information is what Enterprise 2.0 does. It giveth, because the ability of Enterprise 2.0 applications and thinking to get incredible amounts of information from behind and beyond the firewall is unparalleled in business history. If its working right it taketh away, because it can strip the complexity and mask the processing and presentation effort so that the information is provided in a way that is incredibly valuable and rich. It becomes truly shareable knowledge, rather than just information that is technologically available to all.
In addition to the observations summarized above, we are seeing increasing attention to mashups in the business world. Oracle recently released its WebCenter platform, with which "Business users can create Portal mashups that consolidate business applications, business intelligence, content, and social computing services on a single screen." And in "The enterprise implications of Google Wave" Dion Hinchcliffe describes Google's latest Platform as a "communication and collaboration mashup," lending attention to the fact that Google Wave (our Google Wave API Profile) has the potential to become more than a mainstream consumer platform.
Be sure to check out some of our other coverage on this topic, including these popular blog posts: