Let me be absolutely honest. I have not been a great fan of Web 2.0 in enterprise applications space. I felt that proponents and analysts are creating hype out of nothing. But my recent experience with Google Apps is forcing me to alter my views about Web 2.0.
I am now working with a start-up insurance venture in India. Currently the venture is in project phase. We are a team of 15 members operating from a small office in Mumbai. Setting up an Insurance company is an intense and highly collaborative engagement spanning over a period of at least 15-18 months. We are still about 10-12 months away from the launch of our operations. Obviously, our investment in infrastructure and IT at this point in time are limited to desktops, laptops, and internet connectivity. They are likely to remain so for a significant period in time for obvious reasons.
When I joined the company, the team was about 10 people and some of them were using email infrastructure of the promoter companies. Those like me who were recruited for the joint venture were simply using web based mail services. And of course, there was no collaboration infrastructure.
My first job after I joined was to set-up common email and collaboration infrastructure. When I evaluated options, I decided to be experimental and opted for Google Apps, rather than procuring hardware, software & hosting services for collaboration infrastructure.
I just had to buy domain name and register myself for Google Apps and we were in business in just couple of hours. We now have an intranet site hosted on Google Apps. Intranet site enables us to share project documents, publish our internal policies and procedures, team directory, project milestones and so on using various Google gadgets offered as part of Google Apps. In addition we are also using the email & calendar service configured with our registered domain name. All in all, we could establish collaboration infrastructure very quickly, without any maintenance hassles and almost without any cost. For a start-up company such as ours, Web 2.0 service like Google Apps is an effective and efficient tool.
While, I still am cautious of application of Web 2.0 in the mission critical enterprise applications space, I will certainly not dismiss and discount the concept and those who promote it as in the past.