Well, according to Tim O’Reilly, Web 2.0 is when the web shows the following traits;
- the web as a platform
- data as the driving force
- network effects created by an architecture of participation
- innovation in assembly of systems and sites composed by pulling together features from distributed, independent developers (a kind of “open source” development)
- lightweight business models enabled by content and service syndication
- the end of the software adoption cycle (“the perpetual beta”)
- software above the level of a single device, leveraging the power of the “Long Tail”
- ease of picking-up by early adopters
SaaS, according to Wikipedia, has the following attributes;
- network-based access to, and management of, commercially available (i.e., not custom) software
- activities that are managed from central locations rather than at each customer’s site, enabling customers to access applications remotely via the Web
- application delivery that typically is closer to a one-to-many model (single instance, multi-tenant architecture) than to a one-to-one model, including architecture, pricing, partnering, and management characteristics
- centralised feature updating, which obviates the need for downloadable patches and upgrades.
Clearly there is significant overlap between web 2.0 attributes and those of SaaS. However my contention is that real value plays will be found by creating enterprise in the space where the two connect.
I believe the intersect of value occurs in the architecture of participation/one-t0-many space. To explain what I mean I’m going to go out on a limb and look at the TradeMe model. While TradeMe is an outstanding success, I believe it is not an example of optimal Web 2.0/SaaS intersection.
TradeMe has a huge networked community that takes part in activities hosted on the TM site, but UI’d in such a way as to appear a offshoot of TM’s core business. If I were designing a new auction site in New Zealand (and obviously given incumbency I’d be a fool to do so), I’d be looking to have network participation front and centre. As an example we’ll look at hypothetical Ma and Pa Jones who collect tea cosies. While Ma and Pa spend a significant amount of time on TM searching for all that is newly available in the tea cosy line, when they want to get down to the serious business of discussing their tea cosy fascination, their forum is elsewhere. Imagine a scenario where TM was a portal and an aggregator for Ma and Pa Jones’ interests. Not only could they buy and sell tea cosies there but they could virtually meet other tea cosy enthusiasts, discuss all that is new and form strong and specific networks, all within the TM framework.
Now I’m not architecture/UI guru so I’m yet to work out how this would all work and look but hopefully people see where I’m coming from with the analogy.
Successful plays from now on will be made by having both a breadth of content, and a depth of content. They’ll succeed by aggregating the attention (and spend!) of individuals and by creating compelling and value added networks from those individuals.
It’s a space that is very young and one which has only been defined conceptually but one which I’m keen to explore and help organisations develop. It’s the way to build exponentially increasingly valuable selling propositions and garner the potential of the intersect of technology, buying habits and societal values.