Mash-ups are coming to an enterprise near you. New tools and services like Yahoo Pipes and
Microsoft Popfly make it easy for nontechnical users to create and share mash-ups, those
custom Web applications that combine and display multiple sources of data into something
new.But that doesn’t mean CIOs won’t need to be involved.
Business users can go too far on their own. “The very thing that makes mash-ups so
beneficial will likely come back and bite you,” writes Forrester senior analyst Mike
Gualtieri in “Enterprise Mashups: Lead, Don’t Follow.” Users get started without IT but then
hit a road block. Or, their simple mash-up becomes a massive application that is not
scalable or built for integration.
Forrester projects that adoption of enterprise mash-ups will break 10 percent in 2012, so
CIOs need a plan for how to address them within their organization.
First, understand what constitutes a mash-up. “The word is used by many companies to
describe the combination of anything. The key feature of mash-ups is that they allow users
to combine two or more sources of data to create a new view of that data,” says Gualtieri.
Host a training session before giving users access to a mash-up tool. Help them understand
whether a mash-up is what they need. Once users are trained, provide support via help desk
scripts and production assistance. Users will rely on their mash-ups, so they need help if
they hit trouble. CIOs can assist by making sure the mash-up platform is operational and
underlying data services and sources are running.
Gualtieri says enterprise mash-up platforms are still immature, but as users become more
familiar with Web 2.0 technologies, these capabilities will drive corporate strategies.
“Most CIOs have an innovation goal,” he says. “Implement enterprise mash-ups as a way to
provide the business with a tool to innovate.”
1. Establish a policy that defines IT support for mash-ups and spells
out that users must attend training before accessing the tools and applications to build
2. Don’t let the business sneak in mash-ups. “If you do, you’ll be sorry
because they’ll make a mess and you’ll have to clean it up,” says Gualtieri. Instead, work
with users and have your IT organization take the lead on bringing in mash-ups.
3. Use what you have. Mash-ups depend on the underlying data sources. If
you have a service-oriented architecture, the services that make up that architecture are
perfect mash-up sources. But be choosy: Expose a minimum number of services to users and
keep the interface simple.