Magazine article CRM Magazine

Making Mashup Masterpieces: Business Just Got a Little More Hands On-And a Lot More Interesting

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Making Mashup Masterpieces: Business Just Got a Little More Hands On-And a Lot More Interesting

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It's rare that a day goes by without a consumer turning to technology to make her life a bit easier. Business leaders also depend on technology to do their jobs; the problem is actually getting that technology to do what they want. Mashups are one way to tame the tech beast: They're Web-based applications, sometimes called widgets, that unite disparate sources of content to create an integrated tool that serves a new--and, perhaps, more powerful--functionality. In the beginning, there may have been only one common flavor of mashup--location, location, location. In fact, IBM's Director of Lotus Mashups Mikael Orn jokes that the only way people used to discuss mashups was to have a map. Today's complex business needs, however, extend beyond simple electronic pushpins cluttering up a map, and today's enterprises--large and small--face issues, many of them customer-facing, that require immediate resolution. Mashups, in many cases limited only by the imagination of their creators, are empowering businesses to tackle business problems with the power of technology--without having to wait for the technology department's helping hand.

Google Maps may be a typical starting point for a mashup, but the endless possibilities can drive insight into your business by combining data in new ways. Last fall, for example, the Faceforce application appeared on the social networking site Facebook, drawing on information in the user's Salesforce.com system. This "social enterprise mashup" allows a sales manager to interact and manage her contacts from two data sources as a single service. On an even larger scale, Google and Salesforce.com announced an alliance in mid-April that brings together CRM and Google Apps, office-productivity software--email, spreadsheets, and word processing--residing "in the cloud," and positioned as a Web-based competitor of Microsoft's Dynamics CRM and Office applications.

"Mashups are really important ... in the way [that] search became really important," says Anne MacFarland, director of data strategies and information solutions at technology consulting firm The Clipper Group. Like search, mashups allow people to aggregate information in ways that never could have been accomplished before--or at least, not efficiently.

A confluence of activity in the market has helped mashups emerge as a relevant tool. Enabling technology has set the stage: Web 2.0 in the enterprise is gaining traction, Web browsers have better Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) support, and open-source code has grown more popular. …

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