Delivering Business Value with Mashups

Part 5 in the Enterprise Web 2.0 Fundamentals Series

A mashup is a lightweight web application created by transforming, merging, and mixing capabilities or information from existing data sources to deliver useful new functionality or dashboard-like aggregations. The broader insights or "big pictures," created by combining the unstructured data found on the Web, with structured data, obtained by secure, custom connectors from legacy applications and databases, are often compelling. Zillow, an example from the consumer space, presents real estate information on a Google Earth map. Kayak, another example, enables users to compare flights and other travel-related information. Catalogues, such as one for Google maps mashups, facilitate the discovery and sharing of a growing portfolio of mashup capabilities. IBM’s easy-to-use visual mashup development environment comes with a set of mashups and connectors, out-of-the-box.

Mashups offer several key advantages and significant business value to the enterprise. Forrester predicts spending on enterprise Web 2.0 technologies globally will grow strongly to $4.6 billion by 2013, with the greatest share going to social networking, Really Simple Syndication (RSS), and mashups. Mashups enable rapid application assembly and prototyping, with ever increasing scalability, policy security, and access control, reducing cost and development time to hours vs. months. Non-technical users can easily assemble and remix data mashups from internal and external sources themselves, allowing IT to focus on strategic business applications. Enterprise, departmental, and personal data can be transformed into fresh, relevant, mashup feeds and services for new markets and new customers, improving return on investment.

Cisco has been leveraging mashup technology to deliver business value for several years. An internal tool called Sales Rack uses Kapow robots to aggregate links to selling content from Cisco's product and marketing business unit sites, eliminating the need for users to visit multiple sites and reducing search time. Mashup technology has also been used to enable rapid prototyping of one of Cisco's Mobile Sales Information Services and several WebEx Connect widgets. Cisco’s Expertise Locator mashup enables locations of employees, who have indicated a particular expertise in the employee Directory, to be displayed on a Google map. Integrated with Cisco’s Unified Communications technology, this mashup indicates the expert’s presence information and enables a user to click to communicate with the expert. This instant access to expertise shortens Cisco’s sales cycle and increases revenue.

Enterprise Web 2.0 Fundamentals, the book I recently co-authored for Cisco Press, provides more detail on ways mashups are delivering business value to Cisco, its customers and partners. Join me here to learn more about the exciting Cisco Web 2.0 story. I'm eager to hear your feedback as we explore the possibility, recognize the opportunity, and realize the potential of Web 2.0 to deliver business value to your enterprise. Safe journey!

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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