Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0

Posts tagged ‘Web 2.0 application’

Lightweight Models and Cost-effective Scalability

The Internet has become the fastest growing medium and the most famous distribution system. According to NUV (2004), there were 605.6 million Internet users worldwide in the September 2002, having increased from 30.6 million users in 1995 (Flew, 2005). In 2010, there are 205,368,103 sites on the Internet and 940 millions Social Network users worldwide (Ries, 2010). Today, the web service is growing at the phenomenal speed on the Internet. There are many major Web 2.0 companies such as Amazon, Youtube, eBay, Flickr, del.icio.us and Google, which are providing their own web Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to encourage use of their web services and data in the development of mashups, plugins, widgets and gadgets to use as the tools on any website. Web APIs offered by the Google, eBay, or Amazon make once mundane and expensive business processes cheap (Malik, 2007).

Tim O’Reilly, who is credited with coining the term Web 2.0 and “Lightweight Programming Models” has a big concept from his one of seven principles inherent with Web 2.0. Architect Michael Platt of Microsoft explains it this way, “With Web 2.0 techniques, users can easily create applications specific to their own needs (Johnson, 2008). In other words, in Web 2.0 programming, applications are built with lightweight programming models and standards-based services, so users can easily use the Web APIs to build their own application in minutes. Therefore, lightweight programming made Web 2.0 much easier and simpler to use than Web 1.0.

O’Reilly in his article “What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software“, stated that “Lightweight business models are a natural concomitant of lightweight programming and lightweight connections. The Web 2.0 mindset is good at re-use” (O’Reilly, 2005). In other words, as Web 2.0 technology is increasingly embraced by businesses (IBM, 2010), the Web 2.0 applications are using the lightweight programming model to create Web 2.0-style mashup. Mashup is a web page or application that uses or combines data or functionality from two or many more external sources to create a new service (Wikipedia, 2010). 

There are some technical characterics of Web 2.0 application with lightweight programming models

There are some lessons of lightweight programming models

  • Simplicity and organic web-based
  • Support lightweight programming models that allow for loosely coupled systems – Easy to make changes with less risk. Small pieces of applications/plugins are also less specialized, more reusable, shareable, and hackable.
  • Open source software – reuse easy and more cost-effective
  • Think sybdication, not coordination – RSS feed or REST-based web services
  • Design for hackability and remixability – an important goal for web services

This week i am going to look  into a Web 2.0 application that is characterized by “Lightweight Programming Models and Cost-effective Scalability”. One of the best examples for an application is MailChimp (see Figure 1.0).

MailChimp Logo Figure 1.0 – MailChimp

MailChimp is a leading do-it-yourself (D.I.Y.) online email marketing service. It is a product of a web development company called The Rocket Science Group. MailChimp is a Top-Rated social media tool (see Video 2.0). It is also a distributed application which provides easy-to-use web based tools to over 300,000 users worldwide, from a single user to Fortune 500 corporation. It offers free marketing service which allows its customers to design professional HTML emails, send emails with confidence, manage email list and track their own marketing campaigns in minutes with its simple tools. MailChimp delivers more than 200 millions emails per month from over 70 countries and in 26 languages, including Cyrillic, Mandarin and Japanese (MailChimp, 2010). It has flexible plans for every budget as well as the forever free plan. It offers user-friendly web services interfaces and content syndication as well as re-using the data services of others.

Video clip shows the Overview of MailChimp

Video 1.0 – MailChimp Overview

Video clip demonstrates how MailChimp integrates with social media and becomes a social butterfly

Video 2.0 – Social Media Tool

MailChimp is built around an open programming language that makes it easy to sync with outside applications and databases, and supports the most common programs and applications available (MailChimp, 2010). In other words, it built its business around a very scalable product. MailChimp is using web 2.0 technology, RSS to develop the tool, called RSS-to-Email tool. This tool enable its users to automatically send a newsletter whenever they update their blog (or any RSS feed). It also offer two web services which are MailChimp API and MailChimp Plugins to MailChimp users. It has used MailChimp API as its lightweight programming business model which provides a high-level of integration between these applications and creates a more seamless experience for its customers (The Small Business Web, 2010). In December 2009, MailChimp had more than 19,000 MailChimp API users. In May 2010, it has over 27,000 people who access MailChimp’s email-marketing platform via third-party integrations (MailChimp, 2010).

Two web services:

  • MailChimp API is a way for people to “sync” your customer database, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Content Management System (CMS), or e-commerce shopping cart with MailChimp (MailChimp, 2010). There is a version of the MailChimp API for PHP, .Net, Ruby, and XML. It is open and free, which encourages the third party developers to link their applications to MailChimp. Therefore, MailChimp API can be integrated with other applications like Drupal, WordPress (see Video 3.0), Zen Cart, and more. It is even compatible with Google’s Open Social platform, and allows people to interface MailChimp with MySpace, Ning, and other social networks (MailChimp, 2010). These will enable users to extend MailChimp functionality and make it cheap, and reusable and remix and share with others.
  • MailChimp plugin is allowing MailChimp users to connect MailChimp to their own favorite web applications such as CMS, blog, e-commerce shopping cart, and more. It is created by some crafty MailChimp users using MailChimp APIs.

Video clip demonstrates how MailChimp integrates with WordPress

Video 3.0 – MailChimp and WordPress

In conclusion, the development of technology on the Internet affects people and ways of business greatly. MailChimp is a great example of Web 2.0 application with lightweight Models and cost-effective scalability, as well as innovation in assembly. It also opens its APIs to increase the spread of its web service (email marketing) and to encourage the third party developers (co-developers) to be part of the development team. In the future, the Internet will have more Web applications and the Web probably will offer more and more free and open web services.

References:

T. Flew. 2005. “The Internet”, in New Media. An Introduction (2nd Ed). Melbourne: OUP.

M. Johnson. 2008. Human Resources Executive magazine announces 2008 Top 10 HR Products selections.

April 2010 Web Server Survey. Netcraft Ltd. 2010.

O. Malik. 2007. Small is The New Big.

Web 2.0 Technology for Business. IBM. 2010.

 T. Ries. 2010. 940 Million Social Network Users Worldwide.

The Small Business. The Small Business Web. 2010.

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Leveraging the Long Tail

The Long Tail is one of the most important business economic models of the 21st century, especially for online retail business. It first appeared in Wired’s article “The Long Tail”  in October 2004 and expanded into The New York Times bestseller book in July 2009 on the subject entitled, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. The phrase “The Long Tail” was coined by Chris Anderson who is the editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine and a former jounalist for The Economist. In his book, “The Long Tail” (2006), he defined “The Long Tail” (see Figure 1.0) as a statistical curve showing the edge that digital sellers with infinite goods for niche markets have over retailers with limited goods for mass markets and he also used this term to describe the potential opportunity missed in traditional product development.

This video clip shows how Chris Anderson identifies the business model of “The Long Tail”

There are some characteristics of the Long Tail business model

  • More (unlimited) selection – provides a wide range of items/products from “niche markets” as well as “on-demand markets”
  • Lower price – more profitable due to the lower cost for digitial automated delivery and on-demand creation
  • Hits matter – items/products can be easier found by search engine and even online social community (Facebook, Twitter). In other words, more product promotion
  • Scale – more feasible compared to traditional retail stores. It can sell more items and provide online delivery
  • Low fulfillment costs – using digital storage to store data; storage itself is getting cheaper and online devlivery totally automated

The Long Tail Curve

Graph for The Long TailFigure 1.0 : Graph for The Long Tail Curve

In the graph – The Long Tail Curve (see Figure 1.0), the vertical axis (Y) represents the popularity or mass market appeal for an item and the horizontal axis (X) represents a particular product. The red area of the graph represents the traditional markets – the Head. The orange area of the graph represents the Long Tail.

In 2005, Tim O’Reilly in his essay What is Web 2.0, coined the popular term for new Internet services (next generation of Web) – “Web 2.0” and also defined “The Long Tail” as one of the core design patterns of these Web 2.0 Internet business models. O’Reilly describes it as, “the collective power of the small sites that make up the bulk of the web’s content.” AuctionInsights (2008) states that eBay was one of the world’s first “Long Tail” markets. Therefore, eBay is a good example of an organisation “Leveraging the Long Tail” through customer self-service.

eBay LogoFigure 2.0 : eBay Logo

eBay (see Figure 2.0) is owned by eBay Inc. which is an American company and was founded as AuctionWeb in September 1995 by Pierre Omidya. With more than 90 million active users globally, eBay is the world’s largest online marketplace, where practically anyone can buy and sell practically anything (eBay, 2010). In other words, eBay is the world’s leading Internet online auction and shopping website. It brings together millions of people worldwide every day and creates an online sales platform/marketplace for the sale of goods through the Internet and provides services for and by a dedicated community of individuals and small business owners. Since 1995, eBay has grown to have a presence in 39 markets (including partnerships and investments) with more than 90 million eBay.com users worldwide. The total worth of goods sold on eBay was $ 60 million, trading more than $2,000 worth of goods each second (eBay, 2010).

In Web 2.0 era, eBay has stayed successful by continued leveraging of The Long Tail through servicing numerous micromarkets and data management to reach out the entire websites, to the long tail and not just the head. The following items demonstrate how eBay does that :

  • enabling transactions of only a few dollars between single individuals; acting as an automated intermediary (Jim Petrassi, 2008)
  • millions of products not just from “on-demand market”, but also “niche market”
  • providing its services as a sales platform with traffic for other small business retailers to build their own e-businesses
  • compelling participation mechanisms like Feedback, Reviews & Guides and Rating system
  • extending functionality such as combining with traffic from search ads of Google and Yahoo to increase hits
  • acquired Skype to leverage its services to advertise eBay product listings
  • a search mechanism (search function) for consumers to purchase their interested Long Tail products
  • a venue for Long Tail sellers to sell their products to this marketplace

In conclusion, technology and the Internet are making the world a smaller and more connected place (Terry Semel, 2009). The Long Tail theory is changing the e-commerce economics model with shifting from the Mass-Market to Niche Economics.

References:

O’Reilly, T. 2005. What is Web 2.0.

The Long Tail. New York Times Ad. 2009.

eBay: Long Tail Marketplace or Commodity Exchange? Part 1. 2008. AuctionInsights.

eBay. 2010. eBay.com

The Long Tail. 2010. Wikipedia.

eBay. 2010. Wikipedia.

Data is the next “Intel Inside”

Data is the next “Intel Inside” is one of the key characteristics of Web 2.0. The term was first coined by Tim O’Reilly at Conference  in 2005. O’Reilly describes data (managed by the software) as the data driving force behind web 2.0 application (web 2.0 service combines with function/software).  He states “Database management is a core competency of Web 2.0 companies, so much so that we have sometimes referred to these applications as “infoware” rather than merely software.” Therefore, in Web 2.0 applications, data is a valuable asset and without the data, the web 2.0 applications are useless.

Today, the successful Web 2.0 applications inevitably have been used as a specialized SQL database system to store a body of specific data such as Amazon’s product reviews, Google’s links, eBay’s products and sellers information, IMDB’s movies information and more. According  to J. Gordon Daines III and Cory L. Nimer, “The goal of Web 2.0 is the creation of unique content/data which drives website traffic and the overall usefulness of the site.” (Society of American Archivists, 2010) Therefore, the Web 2.0  is different to Web 1.0. Web 1.0 is more about presenting information to the users,  just lik a word processor or a tool with no data.  Today, I am going to analyze how the data management system has played in the success of  Google.

Google is currently the most used search engine. It has one of the largest databases of Web pages, including many types of web documents like blog posts, wiki pages, group discussion threads and document formats such as PDFs, Word or Excel documents and PowerPoints. (University of California, 2010)

Many Google products and projects, including Google Map, Google Earth, Goodle Analytics, Google Fiance, Personalized Search and Orkut, are using Bigtable which is a distributed system for storing data on Google’s own servers.

Here, a video clip shows how Google stores its own data inside the Google Data Centre:

Google Maps is a web mapping service with a Web 2.0 application. It offers users the ability to search location, street maps, a route planner for travelling by foot, car, or public transport and an urban business locator for numerous countries around the world. (Blippr, 2010) It also allows users to how customise their own map, embedded on their (third-party) websites via the Google Maps API. All users’ preferences (address search, store locator, distance calculator, satellie photos, make your own Google Earth KML, biking directions and custom your own Google Map) will be stored on Google’s own servers. Google “owns” the data (information and links), but it does not own the mapping data, because that mapping data is often owned by other (third party) companies such as NavTech and NAVTEQ.

Here is how you can plan your biking directions via Google Map:

In summary, that mapping data is the “Intel Inside” of NavTech and NAVTEQ and the users’ preference data is the “Intel Inside” of Google. In other words, data makes those applications/services a success.

References:

O’Reilly, T. 2005. What is Web 2.0.
Retrieved March 14, 2010 from : http://oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html?page=3

Blippr. 2010. Google Maps.
Retrieved March 14, 2010 from : http://www.blippr.com/apps/337264-Google-Maps

Gordon, J. and Cory, L. 2009. The Interactive Archivist. Case Studies in Utilizing Web 2.0 to Improve the Archival Experience.
Retrieved March 14, 2010 from :  http://www.lib.byu.edu/sites/interactivearchivist/

University of California. 2010. Recommended Search Engines. UC Berkeley – Teaching Library Internet Workshops.
Retrieved March 14, 2010 from : http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/SearchEngines.html

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