Enterprise Mashups Hurtle Toward Mainstream

The efficiency potential for mashups has some companies thinking about doing the "mash."

LAS VEGAS—Enterprise mashups have reached the peak of their hype cycle and are on their way to popping up in the enterprise.

Many companies looking to cull data from multiple sources to help their employees do their jobs better are seeking mashups as an answer, said Anthony Bradley, a Gartner analyst, Sept. 21 at the Gartner Web Innovation Summit 2007 here.

Mashups are applications that pull data from multiple sources, often applications, to fortify the value of the information the software yields. Calling mashups a Frankenstein of sorts, Gartner analyst Bradley said mashups dont own their own data. Rather, data and business logic are sourced externally.

As with many Internet-driven technologies, mashups got their wings in the consumer space, with enterprising programmers splicing Google Maps with retail information or some such configuration.

But Bradley said businesses are increasingly using mashups to improve workflow efficiencies at a time when knowledge workers are looking to get information faster. The major benefit of mashups is rapid application development, he said.


Exercise caution with mashups. Click here to read more.

Situational awareness, in which a user can grab data from multiple sources and manipulate it on the fly to make better decisions, is the killer mashup app. This type of implementation will pace an adoption cycle in which Gartner anticipates 30 percent of companies will use mashups within the next 12 months.

"Being able to respond very quickly to a changing situation is the bread-and-butter of mashups," Bradley said. "The business situation changes very rapidly and our data changes very rapidly, but there is a huge mismatch between our data in a situation and our applications. Our applications do not change very frequently, whereas our data and the business situations change very rapidly. Mashups are bridging that gap."

Bradley showed a prototype of a battlefield situational awareness mashup from an army intelligence group. The mashup uses Google Earth as a visualization tool to map out the Baghdad International Airport, with adds a structure of systems available for users to assemble info from different sources.

For example, Bradley said data sources could include the ability to pick up a cell phone signal from a known terrorist and feed it to the visualization mapping tool.

Other examples include Simply Hired, a rival of Monster.com and Careerbuilder. Simply Hired doesnt have its own job repository. Instead, Bradley said the business monitors hundreds of Web sites for posted jobs, grabs the data via mashups and renders the positions viewable in a single location for job seekers to find.

Wells Fargo uses mashups both externally and internally, Bradley said. On the external front, the financial services firm has a mashup system in place for Internet reputation awareness. This system monitors RSS feeds for content about Wells Fargo and alerts business analysts to the references.

Internally, Wells Fargo uses mashups for customer information accuracy. This tool scans multiple data warehouses and looks for inconsistencies in customer info, alerting workers via an RSS feed.

So who are some of the vendors offering mashup tools? IBM may be the most recognizable legacy software leader for mashups. The company offers QEDWiki as its enterprise mashup maker and other businesses are beginning to jump on Big Blues bandwagon.

For example, StrikeIron, which offers a cache of Web services for businesses to consume, said on Sept. 12 that it has partnered with IBM to deliver Web services through QEDWiki.


Click here to read more about StrikeIron doing mashups with IBMs wiki tool.

But new technologies wouldnt be as exciting if they were always driven by the IBMs of the world, so a number of startups, including Xignite, Kapow and JackBe are emerging to take advantage of this market.

They may not get the chance; Bradley said he expects to see some serious consolidation of enterprise mashup hopefuls in the next one to five years.

"You still see a lot of investment by VCs, so thats indication that the market is not quite mature enough," Bradley said. "We expect to see some dynamic movements, some consolidation, acquisition, new entrants. Over the next few years, there is going to be a lot of evolution in these tool sets."


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