February 8, 2007

Brice: 3 trends in Internet Business this year

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Brice Le Blévennec

What are the major internet business trends to watch in 2007? Brice Le Blévennec, President of Emakina Group, gives you here his vision.

1. OPEN-SOURCE SOFTWARE

One major trend is the maturity of open-source software. Software is becoming more and more of a common commodity and innovation has shifted sides – it doesn’t come anymore from the proprietary software houses like Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle… but more and more from the open-source world. More and more companies will start trusting open source for their IT infrastructure, web servers, web applications servers, web application scripts, databases, email server, document management, collaborative applications… all sorts of things.

For example, today an Open-Source Content Management System (CMS) like Drupal has more functionalities than Microsoft CMS – AND IT’S FREE! It’s been developed by hundreds of developers, it’s advancing by one new version every year. Innovation, reliability, maturity of software are now in the open-source world.

So, I think that next year one of the trends will be more adoption inside enterprises of Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS). It’s both a threat and an opportunity for companies that have been in the business of selling products that are now available in Open Source version. It may be a threat for a few big companies, but it’s a huge opportunity for thousands of small ones. Big proprietary software companies will have to change themselves more into service companies that provide integration services, support, education about their software, rather than selling boxes. You’ll start to see the metamorphosis of such companies as IBM and Novell.

2. RICH INTERNET APPLICATIONS

Another trend for next year is Rich Internet Applications (RIA) and Rich Desktop Applications (RDA), thanks to new emerging technologies and platforms – like Adobe’ Apollo and Microsoft WPF/E. Apollo is a player and a plugin that allows you to mix Flash content, PDF content and web pages together in a Rich Application that you can execute online (RIA) or offline (RDA). It allows every web developer to create real applications that have rich interfaces, with video and sound, with a wide range of widgets, with drag-and-drop. They can look like a classic software application, but they can also look like a website.

Another technique to create Rich Internet Application is based on the Ajax approach which combines HTML, JavaScript and XML transactions. This technique started becoming mainstream in 2005 but remained hard to implement. In 2007 developing Ajax applications will become easier thanks to a plethora of web frameworks that allow you to add Ajax interfaces to your web applications. Using them is a bit like assembling Legos, so a single developer can develop a rich internet application with an interface similar to what Google develops with hundreds of developers. A very promising Ajax web application framework is the Google Web Toolkit (GWT). It allows Java developers to create applications with Ajax interfaces by writing only Java code. But there are many more of them.

So I predict that next year we’ll see more and more Rich Internet Applications, using Flash or Ajax as a delivery platform to create new experiences on the web, on intranets, and in software. This will be a huge trend.

3. ENTERPRISE 2.0

Finally, you may know that on the internet people commonly blog, participate in communities, generate content on video, photo, power-point sharing applications. They browse and write blogs, they read and write wikis. They publish and subscribe to feeds using rss, and share documents and information on groupwares. Those social web applications that are used by the general public on the internet are known under the name “Web 2.0”.

Many companies were born of that. Yahoo recently bought del.icio.us, a bookmark sharing application. They bought “flickr” a photo-sharing application, Google bought Writely.com, an online word processor that allows you to share files. Google bought Jotspot.com, which is a wiki farm ASP provider – so that on the internet anyone can set up a wiki and start to read and write web pages.

The trend next year will be to use the same design philosophies, technologies, approaches, interface rules that became famous under the buzzname “Web 2.0” within businesses, within business web applications. I call this trend “Enterprise 2.0”.

So people in companies will trash their C drives and email boxes and start working in another way that allows them better access to information, better discrimination into relevant information. Instead of getting thousands of emails, they’ll subscribe to rss feeds that will give them information about the topics they need.

And you? What new trends are you excited about following in 2007?

Bart

One of the bigger trends I see happening during the next year is: the spill-over of the physical world into the web.

‘Meatspace’ (a.k.a. real life) will mesh with the internet in different and unexpected ways.

First examples: geotagging of photos, integration of sms into webapplications.

Marin Gatellier

Mobile internet

Mazu

Mobile internet ? again this recurrent joke ? 😉
Open source software is already adopted by a lot of companies and gov agencies.
I worked 3 years on Open source CMS projects…now big companies could see how the market will be eaten by open-source systems. You pay the service, and not the software. It fasten projects and helps to concentrate on service-side of the website.
Same for open source VOIP with asterisks server and tools… it’s the next competitor to skype (skype is really proprietary and closed)

Marin Gatellier

Mazu, the market becomes ready for Mobile Internet (since you have more and more devices with 3G or wifi).
You start to see QR Codes all around, Google is now competiting on Tomtom’s country with it’s Google Maps Mobile. I’m just waiting a move from the Mobile Operators to see (like a price fall) it as new way of using internet