Web 2.0 Mashups stimulate business

Ready or not, Web 2.0, a new generation of web-based services, is changing the way people work and the way records and documents are created, used, and shared. One of the most interesting tools of Web 2.0 are the Mashups.

What are Mashups?

Mashup is web application that combines data from different sources to create one entirely new and innovative service. They are a trademark of the second generation of Web applications informally known as Web 2.0.

This new kind of Web based data integration is soaring all over the Internet these days. The main reason for the popularity of Mashups is the emphasis they lay on interactive user participation and the manner they aggregate the data in. A Mashup website is characterized by the way in which they draw content from outside of its organizational boundaries.

If you not convinced with the data integration definition to Mashups let me give you a good insight as to what makes a Mashup?

The term “Mashup” was borrowed from a pop music scene where a mashup is a new song that is mixed from the vocal and instrumental tracks from two different source songs (usually belonging to different genres)

So how does a Mashup looks like?

The finest example can the ChicagoCrime.org Web site, which was the first mapping mashup that gained huge popularity among the press. This Web site mashes crime data from the Chicago Police Department’s online database with cartography from Google Maps.
mashup1Some of the very prominent Mashups genre are Mapping Mashups, Video ad photo Mashups, Search and Shopping Mashups, News Mashups and many more.

What is a Business Mashups?

In this era of technology and competition as business world races to catch up with the Web 2.0 applications like wikis, RSS feeds and widgets, the next big thing has already entered and starting to catch on fast: mashups.

Business Mashup is the combination of two or more applications into one new changed application that is customized for ‘business’ specific needs.

As the social networking and the Web 2.0 trends came in, it’s the consumers that tend to adopt the business community. The same can be applied for mashups.

mashup2(Above image explains the leading Web 2.0 trends in Business)

Companies have realized that introducing their firm to mashups can help increase a professional influence, mashups is a new generation web service that is constantly changing the way we all work and the way records are created, used and shared.

So we can say that it is the business sphere where mashups will likely have their greatest impact. I think it has already starting to happen.

We should give credit to apps like Google Maps, del.icio.us and Flickr, who have made users started to think a lot about remixing the web. In the figure below is a classic example of a mashup - a Twitter Map. This mashup uses Twitter and Google Maps APIs to create a new application, which literally puts Twitter users on the map.

mashup3Another fine example of Mashup is a site called HousingMaps.com. The site offers house listings combined with Google map.

mashup4Some of the most publicized mashups include Weather Bonk, a mashup site that combines Yahoo! Traffic with Google Maps and various weather feeds that come up with one page featuring live traffic cams and a weather map customized by location. Another popular site is 1001 Secret Fishing Holes, a mashup of Google Maps with a variety of database feeds from sources like the National Park Service, campgrounds and wild life refuges.

Another area where mashups are high is the e-commerce site. Mashups can combine your web traffic data with the marketing data feed of some other company (example: leading provider of marketing, credit, and purchasing information), by mashing up the two, you can look for trends like who visited your site. You can also use mashups like mapping application to trace your web visitors. Interesting isn’t it.

What should business do to utilize mashups and effectively communicate with customers?

Mashups can be of immeasurable use to any business organization, if applied and used in an effective manner.
Following are the different genre of mashups and how companies can use them effectively to communicate with customers:

Mapping mashups

This era of information technology where people collect an abnormal amount of data about things and activities, companies and web developers can mash all sorts of data onto maps and build a huge amount of user-base. Some companies already versed with mapping mashups are ChicagoCrime.org, Secret Fishing Holes.

Video and photo mashups

The photo hosting and social networking sites like Flickr with APIs that expose photo sharing has led to a variety of interesting mashups.

A lot of news companies and sites can make use of such mashups by rendering the text in photos by matching tagged photos to words from the news.

As these content providers have metadata associated with the images they host (such as who took the picture, what it is a picture of, where and when it was taken, and more), mashup designers mash photos with other information that associates with the metadata.

Search and Shopping mashups

Companies can use combinations of business-to-business (b2b) technologies or screen scrapping to aggregate comparative price data. Consumer market places like eBay and Amazon have already released applications to facilitate mashups for accessing their content.

News mashups

A lot of companies can use technologies like RSS to distribute news feeds related to various topics. Feed mashups can help companies aggregate a user’s feed and them over the web, creating a personalized newspaper that caters to the reader’s particular interests. Some companies already using feed mashups are Diggdot.us, which combines feeds from the techie-oriented news sources Digg.com, Slashdot.org, and Del.icio.us

Therefore, companies should make use of mashups bring together information from various sources on the Web into a dashboard-like view.

Future of Business Mashups

It appears that business mashups are certainly cool, but not companies have realized their efficiency. The growth has been steady but it still needs an explosion. Reason being that lots of people still create it for fun but very less for business.

Secondly even though Internet companies are trying to expose their services in the simplest possible way, the applications are still not made simple.

There are services like Yahoo! Pipes, Teqlo and Dapper who are working to simplify the process of creating mashups, but I think it will likely remain a fairly technical exercise only done by enthusiasts.

However, I wont deny stating that we will see companies and products taking ideas from many mashups and creating applications with the combined functionality. For example, taking ideas from the best mashups (like Cloudalicious) and creating a set of tools for bloggers and marketers would be very useful. So mashups will, I think, become the labs of the web - where rapid prototyping is done by enthusiasts, which gives rise to more integrated offerings by web companies.

Please let us know what your favorite business mashup is and give us your take on where business mashups are heading.

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