Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Implementing Web 2.0: Practical Approach

Knowledge of web 2.0 is key for decision making and strategy building for embracing, provisioning and adopting web 2.0 within the enterprise. But knowing does not always translate into doing it. Web 2.0 is not just about technology, it is about people, processes, cultured and, change and adoption. It is about business strategy, value proposition, and competitive advantage. It is very critical for organizations to implement right and effective implementation methodology to deploy web 2.0 applications in the portfolio, measure return on investment (ROI), and build and sustain competitive advantage.

People drive the vision, commitment, change, and culture. The organizations can only create environments to realize these visions. Vision is not just aligning the thoughts with business drivers, but also introducing new ideas and new initiatives. Not all initiatives see the light, success and adoption, commitment is the black bone of all implementations. Web 2.0 is also intertwined with the change in processes and culture. It is destructive model requires realigning to newer processes, technologies and business strategies. In order to be accomplish your vision, you need a well-thought proven methodology to succeed.

Many organization have adopted web 2.0 principles not as a business strategy but more as an experiments to get on the web 2.0 technology map. These companies are plying low risks strategies and trying to gauge its adoption with respect to business model and corporate culture. Others are still in wait and watch mode, closely monitoring the web 2.0 adoption and success within the enterprise, waiting to see if the Web 2.0 bubble is bursting. If the bubble does not burst as it looks like, these organization will lag behind others who adopted it whether successfully or not.

The web 2.0 implementation methodology framework consist of six stages. It is education, strategy, planning, implementation, adoption and measure & improve. Though it is typical of any methodology to have these stages, but it is important to understand each of the stages in web 2.0 implementation.

The key activities in each of these stages are listed below:


  • Understand Web 2.0 principles
  • Enterprise 2.0 Trends
  • Applying Web 2.0 to your Business
  • Formulate Web 2.0 Vision
  • Assess Competitive Advantage
  • Strategise Business Transformation
  • Implementation Roadmap
  • Technology Selection
  • Project Methodology
  • Software Design
  • Application Development
  • Deployment & Support
  • Community Engagement & Mgmt
  • Leading Organization Change Mgmt
  • Executive Management Commitment
Measure & Improve
  • Measure Web 2.0 Maturity
  • Gap Analysis & ROI
  • Review & Plan
Each of the activities can further be divided into tasks with guidelines and finite deliverable.

Please feel free to comment on this posts.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Expect $4.6 Billion In Spending By 2013 As Large Companies Embrace Web 2.0

A new report released today by Forrester Research is predicting that enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies is going to increase dramatically over the next five years. According to the report, enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies will grow strongly over the next five years, reaching $4.6 billion globally by 2013, with social networking, mashups, and RSS capturing the greatest share. Enterprise web 2.0 tools will be adopted, provisioned and embraced by the enterprises over the next five years overcoming all the challenges of technology, monetary benefits, business market and corporate cultures.

Web 2.0 market place is divided into consumer and enterprise services. Consumer services includes Myspace, FaceBook, twitter etc., targeted towards consumers, monetized through ads and evaluated based on traffic. The consumer services are part of enterprise services.

Enterprise services have two aspects - Internal and External. Internal aspect is aimed at the employees, internal communication, knowledge sharing and product innovation. External aspect is geared towards customers and partners, marketing and sales, product development, customer services and retention, and new opportunities.

This reports covers some of the most compelling questions. What Is Enterprise Web 2.0 Software? Can Software Firms Make Money Selling Enterprise Web 2.0 Tools? And talks about external and internal facing markets and how it will be driven.

Overall the reports align with the trends in the market place. Enterprises are keen in adopting web 2.0 principles in both external and internal aspects. Knowledge Management is being replaced with web 2.0 collaboration and social networking applications. The executives understand the need, but knowledge of web 2.0 and how to implement is still missing. They are opting for less risky web 2.0 pilot applications instead of realigning their business strategy with web 2.0. But I am sure success of pilot applications will lead to bigger initiatives. It is just a matter of time and confidence.

There is lot of scope of ideas, technology and services for all product companies, service providers and enterprise IT teams in coming years. The web 2.0 products who have not yet seen the light would reap benefits from the enterprise adoption. Service vendors who have knowledge of web 2.0 and their challenges can take advantage of web 2.0 deployments and create a niche market for themselves. The enterprise IT team will either have to consolidate their ideas and resources or outsource the new initiatives in web 2.0. But in the end, it will be win-win situation for all players in the web 2.0 space.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Web 2.0 - Challenges in Enterprise Deployment

Web 2.0 offers business opportunities, but brings challenges in how corporations embrace community, approach the sharing and protection of proprietary information, and identify and exploit its value. The challenges and issues that web 2.0 presents to enterprises can not ignored before deciding on adopting it. Web 2.0 still inherits all the challenges of traditional web application development and delivery. That includes project management challenges i.e. requirement, budget, schedule, resources, qa etc. and also technology limitations like scalability, interoperability, security, development methodologies etc. But if the challenges would have been same as that of any web application development, why web 2.0 applications have not yet been widely deployed in the enterprises.

After working with some of the large enterprises in last few months on web 2.0 initiatives, I have some ideas on challenges that have been faced by these companies. These challenges are very specific to web 2.0 and its principles, and can not be applied to traditional web development.

The biggest challenge of web 2.0 application delivery is adoption. Adoption by the corporate, technology and people.

Every corporate has it own culture, way to doing things and getting the things done. The culture is deep routed and depends upon the how old the company is. The old corporate houses have more issues with the culture and the changes in comparison with new startups. The new initiatives face cultural resistance from some class of users, for example, clinging on e-mail and other traditional tools for collaboration rather than switch to new Web 2.0tools. The biggest challenge is overcome this cultural resistance. Some employees feel insecure whenever there is change, be it fear of loosing their job or working additional hours on new technology, while some do not want change since they fear it may be effect their efficiency or they are contented with their way of working. Now question is how to overcome this resistance. Web 2.0 evangelist and proponents have suggested both top-down and bottom-up approaches for corporate adoption.

Technology selection plays an important role in any application deployment. Which technology should I use? What is life span of this technology? Am I locking myself into a vendor proprietary technology? One needs to answer these questions before selecting any technology. Now in last few years there are two distinct perspectives that have emerged and are conflicting. One perspective is selecting technology from a vendor who has not only pioneered but also has sustained business, for example, say Microsoft or Oracle. Other perspective is using open source technologies and building stack of products on top of that. Both have pros and cons, depends on where and how it is being used. Thanks to web 2.0, now more and more products remain in perpetual beta. Would you choose a tool or technology for an enterprise that is in perpetual beta? Would I be able to convince my management to invest in technology that is not yet officially released? Companies are confused in selection of technologies, option to choose from vendor proprietary or open source applications and frameworks.

The second biggest challenge is adoption by the employees of company. These days employees spend more time with web 2.0 applications, for example, FaceBook, Linkedin, MySpace outside the office environment than they do within the office. They are smart and intelligent people. They are aware of social networking application features and are also aware of engaging user experience that consumer web 2.0 applications provide. Their expectations have gone up and now they want similar applications to be deployed in their office environment. They will not accept anything that is not close to the application they use.

Web 2.0 advocates moving away from command and control towards collaboration and teamwork, from push to pull model, from process-centric to people-centric business model. The organizations that believe in command and control culture would require self assessment and strategic change toward collaboration and teamwork culture. It requires executive sponsorship and corporate cultural change.

The popularity and adoption of web 2.0 and agile development methodology happened around about the same time. There is a reason for it. In the Web 2.0 era, products and services are really never finished and must continuously improve to compete. They remain in perpetual beta. This is against the definition of the project, it has a starting date and fixed end date. Web 2.0 applications are continuously evolved and improved and end user are part of large testing team. This requires change in development methodology of web 2.0 applications. Some call it web development 2.0 but it is nothing but agile or scrum methodology. The scrum methodology has become very popular in last few years and has seen widespread adoption in the enterprises.

Security is also a major challenge in web 2.0. The issues around privacy information, corporate asset protection, spam protection and digital rights management are very critical and need to be addressed. This requires additional budget and policy formulation, which are additional overheads for the company.

The question that is asked so often is, what will happen to the existing applications and how those can be leverage in web 2.0. It is not possible to replace all the existing applications with web 2.0 and it does not make any sense. Not all applications needs to be upgraded to web 2.0 since they do not add value of the network effort. But there is possibility where the data from these applications may be required in new web 2.0 apps. The challenge is how to integrate these applications. The mashups and API integration are two ways in integrating existing applications besides conventional url integrations.

I am sure there are other challenges in web 2.0 deployment within the enterprise. These are some which I heard from clients and web 2.0 pundits. Please let me know if you know of others.