Jul 23 2007

Where comunities dwell and mashup corporations

Shirley Williams and I heard about the book at the same time, but she read it right away and I’m still wending my way through it.

Andy Mulholland, Chris S. Thomas, Paul Kurchina with Dan Woods, Mashup Corporations; the End of Business as Usual; A chronicle of Service-Oriented Business Transformation (New York, NY: Evolved Media Network, 2006). A lot of the issues in the book revolve around the business opportunities that result from reducing some of the barriers that are embedded in traditional IT — between departments and between the “inside” and “outside” of an organization. Here’s what I think is their key diagram (with my annotations in red):

XML and service oriented architectures, according to the authors, now allow organizations to bridge across all of those boundaries. Data can flow and so can value. The organization opens up and allows an ecosystem of value creation to form around the services it provides. And that process requires that “shadow IT” be recognized as a valuable contribution to the organization’s functioning.

It’s all told in an engaging story about a company that sells pop corn poppers. The characters have humorous names like CEO Jane Moneymaker, Marketing Manager Hugo Wunderkind, and CIO Josh Lovecraft.

It seems to me that it’s communities of practice (CoP) that make sense of boundaries, whether within a company, on the boundary and outside the company. The technologies by themselves won’t do it and the authors recognize that (if only to comment on the fact that “online communities need to be kept under control”). There’s no mention of the semi-formal technology stewardship that bridges between formal IT, shadow IT, the formal organization, and informal communities of practice. Now it may be that the communities that form in such a company using Web 2.0 technologies are less cohesive or more dispersed than those we see in gated communities (somehow they “look different” than what we’ve recognized), but communities have a critical role to play.

A very good book! You should read it, too!

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