Web 2.0 Inside the Enterprise? Forrester, AIIM Weigh In

Forrester produced a well-covered report this week announcing that Enterprise 2.0 will be a $4.6 billion business by 2013. In my RSS feed of FriendFeed updates containing the term Enterprise 2.0, there were probably a couple hundred related to this report – Google Reader shares, bookmarks, Twitters, etc. Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb has a great post about the Forrester report, with dollar figures.

About a month ago, AIIM came out with its own report on the market for enterprise 2.0. It was a work produced in conjunction with the likes of Stowe Boyd and Andrew McAfee.

After reading both of these reports, it’s clear there is a common perspective out there, but some differences worth noting as well. It’s instructive to look at both.

Forrester: Projections Focus

Forrester is paid for its expertise and forecasting. Their reports are well-regarded in this regard. Based on surveys of over 2,200 companies, this report is a forecast of the dominant technologies of Enterprise 2.0. Grounded in the market, fueled by its analysts’ views.

Forrester’s report strongly cleaves the Enterprise world into internal facing and external facing uses.

AIIM: State of the Market Focus

AIIM’s goal seems to be more of an Enterprise 2.0 temperature check of companies today. Surveying 441 company representative, AIIM didn’t try to forecast the future so much as see where companies’ heads are today.

AIIM’s report addresses both internal and external uses, but generally blurs the discussion between the two.

No Unanimous View of Top Technologies

Forrester’s report considers seven different technologies for the Enterprise 2.0 space. AIIM’s report goes much deeper. AIIM’s respondents came up with a much larger set when asked the question, what technologies make up your definition of Enterprise 2.0? To compare the two analysts, I selected the top seven participant responses from the AIIM report. Here’s how Forrester and AIIM show the leading technologies of Enterprise 2.0:

Five technologies showed up consistently between the analyst reports:

  • Social networking
  • Wikis
  • RSS
  • Blogs
  • Mashups

It’s interesting to note the differences between the two reports. Forrester included podcasting as a leading area of spend for Enterprise 2.0. AIIM’s report includes podcasting as well, but survey participants didn’t include it very often in their current definitions of an Enterprise 2.0 platform.

Forrester’s report did not include social bookmarking and tagging, but AIIM did. The Forrester omission probably says something about their view of the dollars to be spent on it.

Forrester included widgets, which is a nod to their strong focus on external uses of Enterprise 2.0. AIIM’s respondents like collaborative filtering, which is the basis for recommendation engines.

A Few Thoughts

Social networking comes in strong on both analyst reports. Forrester has spending here running away from all others by 2013. Call this the Facebook effect (MySpace didn’t seem to inspire the same trend to the enterprise). Generally, Facebook controls its “borders” and has a handle on everything that’s going on. Relationships, groups and activities all occur within the walled garden. Enterprises share a lot of these characteristics. Social networks will become the next generation intranet.

Also, note the disparity here. Companies are just coming to terms with the idea of social networks for employees, while the blogosphere seems to have left the mainstream social networks behind. Call that difference between the easy freedom of thinking and conversations, and the hard decisions of where to spend money and sweating your stock price.

Wikis come in surprisingly low on the Forrester side of things. I say that because some of the best known uses of Web 2.0 technologies inside companies are wikis. In fact, wikis are the #1 thing that respondents consider to be Enterprise 2.0 in the AIIM survey. Perhaps they have a lower cost, so that the same number of implementations will result in lower dollars spent.

RSS comes in strong for both reports. That is great to see! RSS holds so much potential. Just look at the growth of FriendFeed to see how RSS can create really new and interesting applications. RSS inside the enterprise will increase information awareness, and can be a basis for research and discovery the way FriendFeed is on the consumer web.

Blogs are ranked highly in both reports. Very nice to see. There’s still a mountain to climb before employees get comfortable with them. For companies that do have adoption of employee blogs, I expect there will be a boost in innovation.

Company blogs are interesting animals. The worst way to roll those out is treat blogs as glorified press release vehicles. That would be a waste of time. But what do you put on a blog that would be interesting? A couple of companies serve as examples. Google’s blog has a very conversational style of its products, general technology issues and other geeky stuff. Cafepress’s blog talks a lot about their products, which could be boring as hell. But Cafepress manages to relate products to larger issues, which makes it a bit more interesting.

Mashups are in the lower end of the top 7 currently, although Forrester projects spend on mashup technology to be the second highest after social networks. Here’s where I think Enterprise 2.0 will lead Web 2.0: mashup adoption. There are so many existing “big iron” software systems inside companies, that rip-and-replace is an expensive undertaking when you want to add new functionality. Mashups extend the life of these systems. In the consumer web, we’re experimenting with mashups a la Yahoo Pipes and Microsoft Popfly. I’m not sure the average consumer is going to bother with those. However, the average IT professional very much wants to look at mashups.

Those are some general thoughts. What do you think about Enterprise 2.0?


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Whither mashups…beyond Google Maps?

Mashups are a tantalizing concept. Put together two different apps, link some data and voila! A new hybrid app that doesn’t something incrementally valuable to either app individually. A good one that I recently enjoyed was the Super Tuesday Twitter map. It was one of two Twitter-related mashups covering Super Tuesday.

I will note that the Super Tuesday Twitter mashup used a Google map. And that’s not surprising. It seems that when people think of mashups, they automatically think of something grafted onto a map. Craigs List apartment listings. Megans Law sex offenders. Flickr photos of wineries.

It’s like that’s all anyone can think of. Now that’s actually overstating it. I took a look at the top 50 most popular mashups listed at Yahoo Pipes. Here’s my admittedly rough count of the categories (3 omitted from results):

  1. RSS management (14 mashups)
  2. Flickr service stuff (8)
  3. Online retail shopping tools (6)
  4. News search apps (6)
  5. YouTube stuff (4)
  6. Map (3)
  7. Persistent search (2)
  8. Combined search (2)
  9. iTunes (1)
  10. Upcoming.org (1)

So, obviously, there are some things beyond maps. RSS-related apps are showing good uptake.

However, it still feels like mashups are in their nascent stage. I think there are a couple reasons for that.

First, folks are still trying to get their minds around ways that they can be used. Web users are not all programmers. They aren’t thinking that way. They like to try out the things someone else has made.

The other reason is that tools themselves aren’t yet built out to allow more interesting apps. Or, it’s hard as hell to figure out how to use the tools if they are indeed there! For example, here’s a mashup I’ve tried to build both on Yahoo Pipes and Microsoft Popfly. Terraminds provides a nice search function for Twitter posts. You can convert the basic search function into a more persistent RSS feed for a given term. For instance, all tweets related to “enterprise 2.0”. I want to get the Twitter search results for “enterprise 2.0” posted to a page. The tweets include the Twitter author. I want to see the associated blog site of that author, listed right beside his tweet. That way, if the person says something I find interesting, I can click through easily to his personal website to see what else he talks about.

I have had no luck in figuring out how to use Pipes or Popfly to make this mashup a reality. It’s just too hard, or not even possible. Mashups still have a ways to go before they’re ready for wider usage.

So instead, maybe I’ll put all the Starbucks locations in San Francisco on a Google map…