What does Web 2.0 (and SOA for that matter) really mean?

Whenever a new buzzword comes along in IT there’s usually a prolonged gnashing of teeth around what the term “actually means”. It happened with SOA and it happened/is happening with Web 2.0. These debates tend to follow a pattern – the terms start shrouded in mystery and anyone who can explain it is a Very Clever Person. Then someone comes along and says that it’s nothing new, just merely a new way of marketing technology concepts that have been around for ages. These people are Really Very Clever People as they have managed to expose the Very Clever People and can obviously think outside the box. They will often start sentences with the phrase “let’s turn this on it’s head” or “are we looking at this the wrong way?”

This poses a problem for consultancies working in these industries. When I used to work for organisations that were involved in SOA we had a dilemma. So we adopt and market ourselves using the SOA terminology or try to rise above it and just focus on what solutions we offer, never mind whether the industry terms it SOA or not? The problem with abandoning the term ‘SOA’ was that there were people, often in quite senior positions, even CIOs – who had heard the term ‘SOA’ and desperately needed help in understanding what it meant to their organisation. If we rose above the debate, we would miss this market.

I keep asking myself whether history is repeating itself at Trovus with Web 2.0. If we spend time getting involved in the debate as to what Web 2.0 means that is time not spent thinking about what services and products we should be offering our customers. However, if we don’t embrace the label, we lose out on a segment of the market which is genuinely struggling to come to terms with what this latest label means.

Personally, I think the term Web 2.0 is going to create far more problems than it helps (more so than SOA ever did) – but that will wait for the next post.

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