Innovation in Assembly

A current trend on the web is a shift from closed, proprietary applications to open platforms. More and more websites are offering services along with their content to the extent that the become similar to OSs in providing a range of functionality. An example of this trend in action is Force.com – an SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud computing collaboration platform. Not only does it offer its users space to upload, manage and collaborate on files/data, it has applications to support this work. What’s more, these applications were not all developed by Force.com – through many measures (particularly the provision of a development environment and support) users are enabled and encouraged to build their own apps and it is the resulting bounty of apps that Force.com uses to attract new users.

This follows best practice of the ‘Innovation in Assembly’ pattern and is beneficial to Force.com because without effort on the part of its development team, the functionality it can offer is expanded, thus increasing its value and attractiveness to users. These user-developers can contribute innovative ideas that the employed developers might not have come up with. Also, because it’s the users creating the applications, Force.com can be assured that these are applications that users actually want so time isn’t wasted on developing features that aren’t adopted by the user-base. User-developers of Force.com also benefit because they gain a richer experience customised to meet their specific needs. Because Force.com is a platform, not an application, is is easily scalable as user-developers upload their own apps.

Another best practice of the ‘Innovation in Assembly’ pattern is the provision of APIs and Force.com adopts this, offering a range of APIs and actively encouraging as many people as possible to become developers. Both SOAP and REST protocols are supported.

Designing to allow components to be reused is identified as another principle of best practice and Force.com implements it by making available applications that manage small tasks that developers can integrate into their own new applications. Reuse of these component applications is encouraged through the provision of tools to search through and ‘test drive’ them, making finding and integrating an appropriate application very easy. Building on each other’s contributions, user-developers can easily and swiftly create powerful applications.

Tim O’Reilly says “we believe that Web 2.0 will provide opportunities for companies to beat the competition by getting better at harnessing and integrating services provided by others” (O’Reilly 2005) and Force.com is an excellent example of this as its entire business model is built upon the extension and recombination by its users of component applications developed by other people. By facilitating and encouraging user-developer contribution by supplying APIs and component applications to help in the creation of new applications, it attracts an ever larger user base which I think should see it continue to increase its hold on the market and prosper.

Sources:

Lecture notes: http://blackboard.qut.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/contentWrapper.jsp?attachment=true&navItem=content&content_id=_3108288_1&displayName=Week4&course_id=_61779_1&href=/%40%40/AB9799711834A665195B234E2C858AF6/courses/1/INB347_10se1/content/_3108288_1/INB%2528N%2529347%2520Week4%25202010.pdf

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: