Interesting comments from Jay Rosen on the iPad and what it says about where Apple think the Internet is going: "In a way it is taking us back in web time to the read only web. We had advanced from web 1.0 to web 2.0 where users are producers. That is what YouTube is about, and blogging and social media. The users are producers of some of the most popular content...it seems to be restoring people to the days when they were just the audience, when they were just the consumers of content. It is very hard to produce content on the iPad. Now that is interesting for something in 2010".
The 'consumption experience' of the Internet does need major improvement. Laptops and desktops of today are not the most effective, the most pleasing way to absorb content, be it a web page, a video or a film. The mobile experience of the web, despite major progress with smartphones, is still very limited and not entirely satisfactory. Driving a much better consumption experience seems to me to be essential going forward. However, does this mean a return to web 1.0? Of course not! People will continue to create content. What it means though is a trend towards delivering fit for purpose applications and devices, a move away from "do it all, jack of all trade" devices and applications, so full of features it becomes almost impossible to use for all but a few specialists.
What does this mean for the Enterprise? Web 2.0 also had a major impact on enterprises by allowing users, employees to generate and share their own content. The growth of wikis, collaboration and micro-blogging is a testament to that. Some thought this would go as far as allowing users to 'generate' their own applications. A significant part of the early focus of enterprise mashups was to provide simple enough tools to allow end users to do just this. Did this make sense? Of course, allowing users to personalise their desktops, to develop dashboards, to manipulate and create knowledge from data would add value. However, I never thought end users would want, or should, generate their own enterprise applications beyond dashboards. Would you want call centre agents to have the freedom to develop their own desktops? How would a process be enforced to deliver a consistent customer experience (without even starting to deal with scalability, data integrity and security)?
A major improvement to the "consumption" of applications was what was really needed. A better way to deliver fit for purpose desktops to users, dedicated to the task at hand, tailored to the need of each user. This could not be achieved without major changes to the approach of developing applications for people. It required analysts, process specialists and business owners - i.e. the ones who understand best how people need to do their job every day - to be involved in developing these applications. They needed to be allowed to participate fully and take control of the specifications and delivery of the application in a collaborative way with IT. It also required "stripped-down" applications dedicated to specific use cases and user groups, with intuitive and simple user interface to guide the user through the task at hand and to make the application easy to use and learn. This is what web 2.0 for the enterprise can bring: a new, cost effective way to develop applications for people where the "consumption experience" is significantly improved.