A new Forrester report says that enterprise mashups, while not yet a panacea for connecting all the dots of corporate data, will help companies (and their employees) mix and match information to help them do their jobs better.
According to the researchers, vendors will provide tools for business users to build a mashup on their own with no programming experience.
By 2013, the report notes, enterprise mashup market will reach $700 million, and vendors with mashup platforms will be ready to grab "the lion's share" of the pie.
"Mashups are trying to solve a long-standing business problem, which is combining disparate data sources," says Oliver Young, the Forrester analyst who wrote the report. "We think mashups are doing it in a unique way that's more user-oriented."
Do these benefits sound a little bit like business intelligence (BI)? "It absolutely starts to look like BI," Young says. "Mashups will eat into that market." Forrester defined a mashup in the enterprise as "custom applications that combine multiple, disparate data sources into something new and unique."
As the report noted, big time enterprise vendors, such as IBM and its Smash mashup platform, will be tailoring their offerings to work for any business user to build their own applications. Other vendors include JackBe, Kapow Technologies, Microsoft, Serena Software, Strikelron and Xignite.
Young distinguished between enterprise mashups and those in the consumer space. Consumer mashups, he noted, typically are built by a person or company and are just "there" for anyone on the web to use. Housingmaps.com, for instance, combines Google Maps with housing sales data on CraigsList.
In the enterprise space, a good mashup will be user generated. Users will pull information from different systems and combine them. They will run them on a convenient portal, and might represent the mashup as a widget.
That said, even with this user-empowerment, Young says the IT department will have to be heavily involved. It will be their role to ensure the tools really are easy to use and that existing systems are structured in such a way to let users pull information from them seamlessly.
"The business [people] can't do this on their own," he says. "It has to be an IT led-initiative. IT has to enable the data sources. When that happens, and the technology matures, we can see business users start to drive the train."