Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Enterprise Web 2.0 – an underground movement

Dion Hinchcliffe wrote an excellent blog - Giving enterprise software practices an 'angioplasty' assessing the situation surrounding Web 2.0 adoption in the enterprise. Having worked in many large enterprises both in IT departments and for organizations that are IT’s customers I want to put forward a complimentary proposition. I expect that the adoption of Web 2.0 development principles and techniques may take some time and face significant resistance in highly ordered IT organizations. However, it is increasingly the case that IT is not the only developer in the enterprise. IT’s customer organizations frequently cite frustration with the speed of IT development and deployment. This has led to resourceful individuals and small teams to take development in to their own hands. This creates exactly the environment where Web 2.0 principles and techniques will find a home. These guerilla development teams have limited budgets, limited resources and time restrictions. Because these developers are focused on real world problems that specifically impact their daily work their developments are primarily smaller in scale and highly focused. They deliberately avoid considering the issues of enterprise adoption and standardization and may implement solutions that are focused on a specific business function and possibly for a specific region within a business function. Controls around access imposed by IT organizations to protect information also only serve to push guerilla development teams to adopt open source and common protocols such as http because these are harder for IT to block. IT’s customers that are closer to the organizations own customers and vendor partners will also be more receptive to adopting solutions from the Internet precisely because they enable them to share processes and information with their customers and partners beyond the boundaries of the enterprise. I have seen progressive companies recognize this situation and provide budget to support small-scale development. The results: - a reduction in pressure on IT - more satisfied end users because they have a limited capability to prototype solutions that meet their real world needs. It expect it to take some time and many turf wars but the more progressive IT organizations will recognize the potential that Web 2.0 style development brings to their organization. This will lead them to focus on delivery of the “plumbing” – the bloging, wiki and other toolkits that can release creativity amongst their users. They will be less concerned about what is loaded in to these blogs, wikis and other tools but will focus instead on delivering a highly available, robust toolset. After all reliability and discipline in IT systems is one of the strengths that IT brings to the table. It has been my experience that IT’s customer organizations are not equipped with the capabilities to describe the content and flow of large systems in their entirety in a manner that makes it easy for IT to develop solutions. At the same time I have seen prototype developments that address specific needs. Once again, progressive IT organizations should not see these developments as a threat but instead welcome them as prototypes that they can evaluate and scale to enterprise quality solutions where significant benefit is shown to be derived from these limited function operational systems. This plays to the strengths of both parties. The customer organization uses readily available easily modifiable tools to create niche solutions. IT then uses these proven workflows and addresses the issues of scaling them for adoption across the enterprise, where such adoption is warranted.

No comments:

Post a Comment