Here Comes The Open Web – Embrace It

John Rymer
Vice President, Principal Analyst
January 24, 2012

The Web is moving on to a new era of openness, mobility, and digital business. The open Web is a platform built on HTTP (the fundamental web protocol), a new generation of HTML, dynamic languages, and wide use of Internet services for everything from video encoding to social graphs to order management and payments. The open Web made its debut in consumer applications; for enterprises, it will power a new generation of customer engagement applications. The open Web will be particularly important to app Internet systems that bridge mobile devices, cloud services, and enterprise applications and data. Forrester recently published a report that will equip application development and delivery leaders with an understanding of the open Web and its potential value.

We define the open Web as: a culture and community emphasizing openness, transparency, and freedom of developer choice as well as an application platform based on HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript clients, HTTP/representational state transfer (REST), and cloud services. The open Web includes the app Internet as one potential design pattern.

A new breed of developers is propelling the open Web: young developers who grew up on the Web and develop outside the firewall — primarily producing applications aimed at consumers. Their career expectations were also born of the Web, and they expect openness of information, technology, and expertise. Open Web developers share certain motivations that have shaped the open Web trend. They:

  • Strive to create great customer experiences.
  • Craft applications that can reach customers wherever they are.
  • Leverage customers’ inherent desire to be social.
  • Deliver applications and new functionality quickly.
  • Minimize time spent on low-value tasks to focus more on creating business value.

While the initial efforts focus on customer apps, we think AD&D pros will eventually use an open Web approach in employee-focused web applications as well. That’s right: We will repeat the adoption pattern of the World Wide Web during the mid 1990s — the new technology and approach will take hold in consumer applications first and then spread into corporate applications.

As we adopt the open Web, we’ll also change the key assumptions about our work:

  • Polyglot developers who develop in many dynamic languages will be the norm, not the exception. Java and C# will become just two choices among languages.
  • We’ll shift our focus away from systems of record and toward systems of engagement.
  • Our business partners will drive us to design web platforms, not just websites.
  • We’ll give smart mobile devices and apps high priority in our designs — usually with a mobile-first policy.

Open Web adoption isn’t a question of if but when — and firms that embrace it early will have a huge lead on their competitors, as the apps they develop will engage and delight customers on virtually any user interface (UI) or device. If you haven’t already started investigating the open Web and its technologies, you’re late, and the sands of time are flowing against you. Get started immediately.

Jeffrey S. Hammond and I conducted this research. Forrester clients can read both of our reports at these links:


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