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Web 2.0 in 2009: What's Out, What's In

As a CTO, my boss tells me I am entrusted with ‘understanding market forces and business drivers to drive JackBe's technical vision and strategy’. So I am prone to trend-watching and predictions. In fact, I like predictions. And I think my 'Web 2.0 in 2008: What's Out, What's In' predictions were fairly good.

I should note that I think the end of the year is a fairly arbitrary time to consider ‘what’s next, what’s hot, and what’s dead-on-arrival’. After all, the Web 2.0 world changes everyday! Nonetheless, since it is what the rest of the world seems to expect, here’s what this '2.0 CTO' sees as OUT and IN for 2009:

Out: "Faster, Better, Cheaper", In: "Cheaper, Agile, Faster" (in that order)

Who doesn’t want “Faster, Better, Cheaper”. Well, it turns out, better isn’t always better, if the cost of improvement is high and the starting point is already good enough. Replacing “better” with “agile” and making “cheaper” the top-most priority certainly fits the economic climate. Managers want cheaper. And users want the flexibility to do things themselves and share it with others. And everyone wants faster. "Cheaper, Agile, Faster" seems like a no-brainer.

Out: Business Analysts, In: Mashup Analyst

With sincere apologies to those who have the title, what the heck is a 'business analyst' anyway? I know theoretically it’s a person who knows how to talk to the business and IT. But every year we induct more of the technically savvy straight into the business ranks. Many '2.0' technologies (like mashups, wikis, blogs, and some RIA widgets) are mature enough to let users create and share their creations themselves. So we'll start to see more titles like 'Mashup Analyst', 'RIA Specialist' and 'Wiki Manager' in the future.

Out: SOA by IT for IT, In: SOA by IT for the Business

SOA in the past has traditionally been done to 'reduce cost, increase reusability and provide standards based middleware for IT's use'. Because data is so valuable to the business, IT is now being driven by the business to make it’s SOA directly available to them. And it’s not just a nice-to-have, it’s a priority.

Out: Service-Oriented Data, In: Decision-Oriented Data

This is related (but not the same) as my 'SOA by IT for the Business' prediction above. SOA-enabled systems exchange data but because SOA has traditionally been created by IT for IT, SOA data hasn’t always been business (decision) centric. In other words, many SOA services do not exchange data that is human readable and more importantly in a state where users can use it for decisions. 2009 is the year that all changes. Following the path of consumer facing SOA services such as Amazon, Google and eBay, enterprise SOA systems will exchange data directly to (and from) the user or they will be passed over for systems that do.

Out: Better Business Intelligence, In: Lesser Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence made it on to Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic IT Technologies for 2009. I suspect that it isn’t BI in it’s traditional software sense that was the driver, but rather the strategic, enterprise-wide use of BI data. To gain more traction, BI will have to take more of a self-serve model rather than relying on IT do do it all. There are lots of things that are driving the 'BI 2.0' engine, including RIA widgets and mashups that use BI systems as data sources. It's a bold new world for BI, I think.

Out: SOA, In: SOA

We just can’t seem to shake SOA. We’ve been talking about SOA for almost a decade and for all intents and purposes we’ve been saying the same thing. But I expect that in 2009 that will change. Instead of talking about SOA as a tangible thing, we’ll talk about it as the only viable way to connect systems togeter and provide data to the business. Perhaps we'll go so far as to banish 'SOA' as a term and stick to 'service-enablement'.

Out: SOA-in-house, In: SOA-on-the-cloud

How many times do we hear “what are our sizing requirements for our SOA?”. The answer was always “it depends”, which resulted in weeks or months of analysis of hypothetical scenarios. The new answer will be “who cares, it’s on the cloud”. Seriously, all this sizing and planning is becoming so much less of an issue if the startup and operational costs of running more is so small. It costs more to analyze than to add another CPU or instance of Amazon's EC2! Who knows, maybe Amazon and Nike will team up on a joint marketing campaign called “Just Do It (on the Cloud)”. If so, I want credit for the idea.

Out: Dashboards, In: Mashboards

I think one of the underappreciated trends of 2008 was the dashboard. Every software vendors seemed to produce some sort of dashboard. But most of these dashboards were just fancy looking windows or portals into a single application. In 2009, we’ll see the same trend expand, moving beyond data coming from a single system. The result will be mashed up from multiple systems into what I often refer to as “mashboards”.

Out: Emailing Excel Spreadsheets, In: Mashing Excel Data

(This is a derivative of one of my 2008 predictions.) I would categorize data collaboration by emailing Excel spreadsheets as most successful software failure in the last twenty years. Imagine the billions of dollars spent copying and pasting data into Excel, manipulating the already-out-of-synch data, emailing them, and then re-assembling this information because it’s the only tool available to business users. I love that Google Docs is slowly hacking away at the sharing and collaboration aspect of this problem, but Docs are disconnected from the original data sources. Mashups tied directly to the data sources (this includes both Excel-bound data as well as primary databases/applications) can tackle this problem at the data source, and do it in a secure, governed way.

Out: Silo Bashing, In: Silo Loving

There is nothing pleasant about the term “silo.” It portrays images of things being locked up, impenetrable and self-contained. Sure, we can continue to provide proprietary hooks to our most valuable resource but it remains an expensive, unscalable approach. In 2009 I think we embrace our silos and learn to treat them as fact of life. In what way? SOA becomes the secret sauce that wraps these silos in a non-proprietary, standards-based access mechanism. This let’s silos become “mashable” and participate in the mixing and syndication with other disparate data sources. Long live the silo.

Out: Aligning Business and IT, In: Buying IT

If I read another whitepaper this year that talks about aligning business and IT, I think I'll throw in the towel and go into the wine business. Aligning Business and IT is a best practice that has been talked about for years now. If your business and IT are still not aligned, it probably ain't gonna happen in these tough times. So, it's time for drastic measures: Buy IT. Let IT do what it does well (secure and govern datacenter resources), while you (the business) buy (or lease/rent) your own mini IT group that builds your applications and mashups. A corollary to this idea is buying your IT from outside the organization, aka SaaS. Either way, you'll get what you pay for.

Out: SOA Architects, In: SOA Social Workers

All software developers wanted to have “SOA Architect” on their resume at one time or another. But SOA has a very bad rep nowadays. There are many reasons why, but most of the reasons aren’t technical; they’re in fact social and organizational problems. Face it, most organizations have tons of 'data fiefdoms' and few of them are incented to share. Introduce the requirements to expose and share your SOA data outside of the firewall and across domains, and you’ve just exponentially increased your problem. But 2009 is the year that this all changes. I think a new breed of technologist (let's call them 'SOA Social Workers') will understand the technology and business but, more importantly, know how to work the politics.

Out: Salesforce.com as a SaaS, In: Salesforce.com as a Business Portal

How do you get your Salesforce.com users to have access to data inside your datacenter? The obvious way is to push your data into Salesforce.com. This might work for small data sets, but not for all the stuff that lives inside our monolithic apps like SAP, Oracle and Portals. In 2009 we will see companies beginning to dump their internal portals (because of IT budget cuts) and adopting Salesforce.com as their Business Portal. However, instead of uploading everything to Salesforce.com, they will be using RIA widgets to syndicate/embed their internal data/content to Salesforce.com. That's a savvy 2.0 approach.

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