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universal blog

Running a business on Web-based software November 24, 2006

Filed under: web 2.0 — thepharmaman @ 3:10 am

Running a business on Web-based software

Posted by Dion Hinchcliffe @ 1:26 pm

Digg This! One premise of Enterprise Web 2.0 is that Web-based software is beginning to credibly encroach on many solution areas that traditional software previously addressed.  According to proponents, this maturing method of online software delivery provides more usability, convenience, and value.  The flexibility, mobility, and sheer connectedness of Web software is indeed increasingly hard to ignore.  And many of us, consciously or not, are doing more and more of our daily work in the browser, either using applications hosted on the Web, or inside our organizations using Web technology.

Enterprise Web 2.0 SpectrumAlong with all this, the people-powered aspects of Web 2.0 software are causing software developers to add features to their online software to make the pieces (services and data) more open and sharable, draw folks into lively and useful communities, or just provide simpler, better capabilities (adding tagging or providing an Ajax GUI, for example).  This, coupled with all the new innovative software online, in turn is spurring serious interest from early adopters in the business community.

There’s been a lot of talk in the last couple of weeks about this trend, and how pronounced it really is, though some folks like Union Square Venture’s Fred Wilson seem pretty sure it’s happening, and even cites his firm’s own experiences.  (My take: It is indeed happening and has barely started.)  He notes that enterprise technologies used to begin their life in the enterprise and then make their way eventually to the consumer space.  He asserts that this process has reversed now that innovation is happening so rapidly in the online consumer space, further driven by the increasing shift of control from organizations to the individuals (see my take on Social Computing for a quick exploration of this.)

Social vs. Technical Aspects of Enterprise Web 2.0

The tenets of Web 2.0 can be exhibited in a variety of ways that range across a spectrum with social aspects at one end to primarily technical ones at the other (see diagram left).  Web 2.0 software for the enterprise can effectively demonstrate aspects across part of this range, most of it, or just a snippet of it.  But the generally idea is that Web 2.0 software is online, open, made of pieces, encourages constructive social interaction, and is driven sightly more by its users and data than specific features.  Wikis are a great example of this latter concept; their biggest two features are the edit and save buttons, with the data and people gathering there being far more important.

Examples of Web 2.0 Software in the Enterprise

Nothing however, speaks stronger to an idea than pointing out examples, and that’s where I’m referencing some recent work in this area by Jeff Nolan of SAP’s Apollo Strategy group.  He has recently begun assembling a rather impressive list of enterprise-usable Web 2.0 software.  I asked Jeff what his goals and motiviations were for assembling this list, and he kindly responded with the following (with advance apologies to fellow ZDNetter Phil Wainewright’s own definition of Web 3.0):

I leveraged the term ‘Web 2.0 in the enterprise’ into ‘Web 3.0′ with the idea that most of the existing Web 2.0 software wouldn’t make it into the enterprise because of security, feature/function, or platform issues, and needless to say, integration. However, having said all that it is clear that what the major enterprise vendors have been working on for several years is what you could call the precursor to Web 2.0 in the enterprise, which is a notion of a services-based backend system.

I started out creating lists of interesting companies that I was tracking, with an emphasis on ‘enterprisey’ stuff and quickly realized that it was not practical to draw a line of demarcation between one and the other (consumer vs. enterprise). I recalled my days in SAP Ventures when we drew an investment thesis around the notion of a blurring of the line between enterprise and consumer grade applications and services.

Thus, I started tracking all of the companies and links I could find that would be representative of Web 2.0, enterprise or not.

The result of Jeff’s work is a pretty extensive (and inevitably incomplete) list hosted on a wiki that any registered user can edit.  This directory contains some of the more recognizable poster children of Web 2.0 including BaseCamp, del.icio.us, edgeio, Zillow, and many others organized into functional categories such as collaboration, messaging, infrastructure, etc.

But the list also goes onto enumerate many Web services that often deliberately appeal more to enterprise audiences than to consumers.  This includes sites such as JotSpot, Eurekster, and others.  And certainly, lists of Web 2.0 software now swirl around the Internet practically beyond count (yes, mine are here, here, and here), this is the first one that I am aware of that focuses primarily on the Web 2.0 in the enterprise space, though please, if you know of one, please put it in Talkbalk below.

Here’s a list using Jeff’s a primary point of departure (with his permission).  In the interests of fairness, if you think something is missing please add your own Enterprise Web 2.0 software in Talkbalk and I’ll reissue it at some point with all additions that make sense.

 Enterprise Web 2.0 Software

with thanks to Jeff Nolan’s Web 2.0 in the Enterprise list

Blogs and Content Management

Enterprise Wiki/Blog (must have both combined, 500+ user support)

Consumer or Workgroup Wikis


Project Management:

Voting, Bookmarking and Tagging:

Widgets and Mashups:

Office Productivity:

Homepages and Portals

Calendaring and Events


Enterprise Applications:

Messaging and E-Mail:


Listing Services:




Online Storage

Infrastructure and Tools:

Back-Office and Sales Infrastructure

Services and Directories