Along with social networking, Gartner indentified enterprise
mashups as one of its Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009:
"Enterprises are now investigating taking mashups from cool web
hobby to enterprise-class systems to augment their models for
delivering and managing applications." However, while the workplace
learning and performance community is familiar with social
networking tools for learning, mashups are still a new concept for
What is a mashup?
According to Wikipedia, a mashup is generally known as a web
application that combines data or functionality from one or more
sources into a single, integrated application. The term
mashup implies easy, fast integration, frequently done by
access to data sources to produce results that were not the
original reason for producing the raw source data.
Although you may not have realized it, most of you have used a
consumer mash up. Probably the most familiar example is the use of
cartographic data from Google Maps to add location information to
real estate data, thereby creating a new and distinct web service
that was not originally provided by either source. Another familiar
example is Digg, which is a mashup of various news websites controlled almost entirely by the users of Digg website.
Mashup use is expanding in the business environment. Business
mashups are proving useful for integrating business and data
services. Business mashup technologies provide the ability to
develop new integrated services quickly, to combine internal
services with external or personalized information, and to make
these services tangible to the business user through user-friendly
web browser interfaces. Business mashups differ from consumer
mashups in the level of integration with enterprise computing
environments, security and access control features, governance, and
the sophistication of the programming tools used.
The Department of Defense provides an example of how to use a
business mashup. Recently, U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency
(DISA) deployed an enterprise mashup server running JackBe software
to bring together strategic information from disparate sources that
could be used across Department of Defense agencies. DISA has
enabled the creation of mashups to address several distinct
threats, including natural disasters, terror attacks, and ballistic
Enter learning and performance
The concept behind the creation of business mashups lends itself
naturally to learning and workflow performance opportunities
because although a particular mashup may be useful to the person
who created it, an enterprise stands to benefit more when users
share mashups with others who may have the need for similar
For learning, mashups offer a way to collect and contextualize
information from many internal and external information sources and
systems of record in such a way that business users can analyze it
and take action. By working with mashups, business users can
incrementally build in the functionality and information they need.
Developers can create an initial mashup with one or two sources of
information and then add a little more, perhaps information from
another system of record or online information source. In essence,
mashups enable workers to adapt to change, develop new insights, or
act on new business opportunities.
Some examples specific to learning and performance may include a
mashup developed as a workflow-based EPSS for a call center or an
interactive array of selling techniques for overlayed with past
financial data. Workers learning a new software package could use a
mashup created by in-house experts that outlines favorite features
and uses sorted by departmental usage.
Keep in mind, however, that the quality of the mashup is only as
good as the quality of the information it is incorporating.
Therefore, with regards to learning and performance support,
critical decision-enabling information must be accurate,
up-to-date, and free from tampering.
Indeed, mashups are an important new development for learning
practitioners as they provide a new and accessible means of
creating large numbers of business applications without requiring
complex IT projects or large numbers of people with deep technical
Mashups are typically built using such programming tools referred
to as mashup editors. One of the key benefits of a mashup is that
these tools used to build and edit them are relatively simple and
intuitive enough for users to create unique juxtapositions without
much handholding. Some popular tools, such as JackBe and IBM Mashup
Center are listed in May Downloads.
More and more companies are turning to enterprise mashups that
combine information and capabilities from more than one source to
deliver new functions and insights. Businesses can remix
information from inside and outside the enterprise to address
situational problems quickly. Individual users can create such
applications themselves, by mashing together multiple information
sources into a lightweight web application that is good enough to
solve the issue that pops up. Given this ease of use and the
relative low cost o develop and maintain mashups, it's worth it to
try them out as a potential learning solution.