Notes on "Enterprise 2.0 and BEA's Strategy", Aug 24

Day 2 of the 6th Annual Strategic Intranet and Enterprise Portal Management conference kicked off with Matias Cudich from BEA Systems speaking on Enterprise 2.0. Matias came out from San Francisco to speak at the conference.


(hey Eric, notice anything?)

After saying he loves eating New Zealand lamb, he talked about the three unresolved riddles BEA sees in the enterprise:

  1. Productivity in the Enterprise … productivity tools in the enterprise meet a unique set of challenges not solved by any one vendor. Desktop tools (difficult to contextualize, difficult to store, many applications are built in spreadsheets that shouldn’t be); Email and IM (difficult to contextualize, not secure, many decisions made that should be centralized); Packaged and Applications (not extensible on the fly, difficult to use, long deployment process)
  2. Distribution in the Enterprise … distribution tools in the enterprise meet a unique set of challenges not solved by any one vendor. Portals (portalifying applications is costly, and shallow adoption curve), Rogue Applications (costly to secure, costly to apply analytics, and no central access points) and Audiences (multiple directories, the firewall, how to distribute a single resource to multiple audiences?).
  3. Discovery in the Enterprise … discovery tools in the enterprise meet a unique set of challenges not solved by any one vendor. Indexing / Security (what to index?, desktop difficult to index, how to hide results?); Search Algorithms (no PageRank, semantics, no feedback mechanisms), and Taxonomy (librarians required, one person’s view).

The result: assets are frozen (can’t be re-used or changed to adapt to the business); processes that involve interaction between people are done manually; software can’t match business needs; users can’t connect to tools for their data; and it is costly for IT to distribute content/data.

But How Does It Work on the Web?
Today’s Web has a focus on connecting groups of people. There are new APIs for access to different services. There’s a focus on lowering the barriers to entry via more simpler offerings, the distribution of niche products and finding niche content. Finally, every user has the ability to be both an owner and a participant.

For example, Matias can add a new entry under “Enterprise 2.0”. Ten bloggers link nto article, the Google PageRank increases, and interested consumers can now find the article. (Does Matias know that Wikipedia deleted the Enterprise 2.0 entry?)

As another example, can shoot a video on his cameraphone and upload it to YouTube. It can be linked to Digg or del.icio.us, the Google PageRank increases, and interested consumers can now find the video.

The long tail is a key concept making the Web useful. Key dynamics are that it is very easy to produce niche products, leads to a dizzying array of products to choose from, cost of ownership / supply is negligbible, and it’s very easy to find what you want.

The “enterprise tail”? Does it exist in the enterprise? It absolutely does not. There is a significant focus on delivering hit applications, compared with the true dynamic that business thrives on a million “smalls”. There are few good tools for producing niche content/applications, few good tools for distributing niche content/applications, and few good tools for finding the nice content/applications.

BEA and Enterprise 2.0
BEA’s focus is on bridging the gap between users and IT. Going forward they want to provide tools to energize productivity, distribute the long tail and connect supply and demand. BEA releases that they have to pay attention to the “ilities” and governance.

BEA will be shipping three different products next year to solve these challenges.

  • Project Builder for Productivity … for building situational web applications in an incredibly easy way, with a tight focus on simplicity and extensibility. Matias gave a demo of how Ford Motor Company could use Project Builder in the Manufacturing division. It enables people to build a shared space for a very niche application. Here’s a 1.4 MB movie of part of the demo.
  • Project Runner for Distribution … provides a way to govern internal Web applications. Offers an accelerator for composing user interfaces (eg, a mashup platform for the enterprise), a simpler way to secure applications, and a standard way to measure application usage.
  • Project Graffiti for Discovery … a collaborative information discovery system for crawling and index content sources. Provides a new approach to search, offers expertise location and enables the full tapping of enterprise wisdom. Want to build relationships between people and content.

These three applications are currently in development, and will be ready in 3-4 months.

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