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Here comes the Open Web - Embrace it!

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We see an inevitable shift of developer skills from generation to generation, and it will happen again with the Open Web. App development shops that choose to refresh their development skill base will find that it will help their transition to the Open Web if they prioritize Open Web development skills as part of their next set of Web development hires. That new breed of polyglot pragmatists will be able to accomplish as much if not more than your Java/.NET developers using the new standards, especially in the near term before what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) tools and higher-level programming frameworks become available.

Bottom line

Embrace the Open Web before your customers engage with someone else. The Open Web isn't some "geek-a-demic" tech-fest — it's not just born of developers, by developers and for developers. It is a technology wave spawned by the need to more fully engage and delight an increasingly demanding customer base. Failure is not an option. To meet the new Web economy head on, Forrester recommends that application development professionals start to:

  • Learn the new platform. Start by learning the Open Web technology stack-all of it. We find that most shops don't see the whole picture. Many focus either on HTML5's impending arrival, mobile applications or the rise of Representational State Transfer (REST) application programming interfaces (APIs). Look to your developers to help create this understanding; many of them are probably using Open Web technologies outside of work already.
  • Determine how the Open Web will speed delivery and cut costs. Can use of Open Web technologies take cost and time out of your current Web development approach? The productivity gains reported by the early users of new languages, including Ruby, Python and Scala, are compelling. How much can you save by using Web developers instead of Java and C# developers on appropriate projects?
  • Decide how your teams need to prepare to successfully adopt Open Web technologies. When will key Open Web technologies be mature enough for your organization to adopt? HTML5's unfolding future is a focal point because the full set of standards called HTML5 cover so much function. Gauge your team's and your current portfolio's readiness for this new stack. Do you have people who can create business value with these technologies? How will you modify your application life cycle and change management practices? How will you adapt current design practices?
  • Decide where you should start. AD&D groups that own customer-facing websites will necessarily drive investments in HTML5 and mobile applications into those applications. But all AD&D leaders should steer strategy toward Open Web technologies to better satisfy executive demand for mobile apps. Aligning with the Open Web will help prevent delivery of one-off native apps that fail to meet expectations. The best way for other AD&D groups to contribute to these efforts is often by creating Open Web-friendly APIs to support the work of other developers creating customer-facing websites and applications.
  • Develop new services and channels. Most firms provide data to their partners and customers today. Open Web APIs allow the next generation of these services. Help your business partners understand that the opportunities are broader now: Individual developers can expand the value of your firm's key data if they have the right (REST) APIs to work with. Your current B2B partners will also be more productive and perhaps more motivated to work with your firm's services if presented with a simpler set of APIs.
  • Fund the necessary infrastructure investments. Present investments in APIs as an extension of all the work your organization has been doing in service-oriented architecture (SOA). The new API work will raise the SOA work to a design that (finally) represents the business. And like SOA, the new APIs will require appropriate platform infrastructure to run on.
  • Differentiate to avoid disaggregation. If your firm is in the position of being disaggregated by channel partners, Web aggregators and the like, your Open Web API strategy can restore its influence. Disaggregation means that your firm's products and services become commodities; the aggregator or channel partner may gain the upper hand in brand identity and pricing leverage. Open Web channels that combine great customer experience with powerful APIs and platforms are the way to counter this form of disaggregation.

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