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Mashups in the Enterprise

The Google OpenSocial announcement and value proposition parallels, or at least suggests quite a bit of overlap, with the over-hyped concept of mash-ups. Don't get me wrong, the mash-ups concept is great and in the consumer utility computing model shows both great promise and demonstrated success. The ability to overlay your company address with Google maps and Mapquest directions on your company's corporate web site "Contact" page is a classic example. However, while the consumer mash-ups user experience flourishes, mash-ups in the enterprise are little more than a pipe dream.

The most publicized and cited enterprise mash-ups directory is the Salesforce.com AppExchange. At first glance, the directory is extremely broad. Unfortunately, additional glances get no further than 'extremely broad'. I had the opportunity to deal with an AppExchange mash up from an accounting software manufacturer that claimed integration from Salesforce.com to the accounting system Order Entry and Accounts Receivable modules. To cut to the chase, the mash-up was complete marketing hype. The integration was nothing more than an extremely basic (and unreliable) data exchange which usually moved a transaction document between the CRM and ERP system, however, failed to provide several basic aspects of referential integrity, security enforcement, error handling and downstream data management for user queries and reports. After jumping through hoops and incurring way too much in consulting fees, we finally abandoned the alleged integration.

The reality is that merging and integrating multiple-vendor best of breed business software systems has been a difficult and problematic exercise since the beginning of packaged business software systems over 30 years ago. While I do think some mash-ups will get past the marketing-only hype and provide true Enterprise 2.0 value, I suspect they will be few and far between and enterprise mash-ups will pale in comparison to the pervasive adoption and success of consumer based mash-ups.

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November 17, 2007 at 11:06 AM in SaaS CRM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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This blog is focused on hosted, on-demand or software as a service (collectively SAAS) business solutions. To qualify as a SaaS solution, the service should be offered on a subscription (pay as you go) purchase price, housed in a multi-tenant data center and delivered remotely over the Web to web browsers. Business applications include about any front office or back office business system. Frequently cited business applications include Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, Sales Force Automation (SFA) systems, Enterprise Resource Planning(ERP) systems, Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems, Manufacturing Systems and Human Resource (HR) systems.