October 31, 2006

JotSpot & Google – business unusual

Posted in development, google, jotspot at 7:09 pm by jayfresh

JotSpot has been bought by Google for an undisclosed amount, so what’s this all about? I guess it’s not obvious – Om Malik is even running a poll on his blog asking whether this makes sense…

I have been a Jot customer for nearly a year now, and I have some very particular views on where their strengths (and weaknesses) lie. I have very little doubt that Google hasn’t bought Jot for their userbase (60k+ users, circa 1k corporate) or for the applications that they have released (let’s face it, online spreadsheets and family trackers are hardly revolutionary). The one thing that Jot is doing very well is advancing the field of DIY applications.

Blogging brought DIY publishing to the masses, along with wikis – they created an explosion in content creation and a huge incentive for software developers to innovate around the mould, either off their own back or in response to users’ feedback. If JotSpot (and their ilk – check CogHead for example) do the same thing for applications, what does this mean for consumers and businesses worldwide?

1. We could cut bespoke, stove-piped development – JotSpot has developed a toolset that lets you rapidly roll out applications without requiring heavy technical skill. Whilst the scope of the applications is currently around information management (which is a massive field anyway), fast forward six months to a year and we will be looking much more at complex Enterprise applications created piecemeal by non-technical business users.

2. Much more customization and personalization – part of the reason why business software often sits on the shelf is that one piece of software will not satisfy the individual requirements of lots of different departments. Salesforce.com know this… A core facet of the JotSpot platform is that the applications you create from their toolkit tend to be very focussed on collaboration, personalization and the user’s individual experience. You can build applications that share a common set of data and layout, but can be customized for the individual, very easily.

3. Lastly, the whole DIY element means that the volume of potential developers goes up by an order of magnitude, from those with deep technical understanding to those with an understanding of the business logic, which are often the people with the requirements in the first place. This frees up developers to create innovative capabilities and respond more generically to their customers, adding to the whole platform rather than one application.

I’m sure it will be a little while before we see anything filtering down from Google, although it has to be said that their decision to make JotSpot free from this point onwards will make a lot of people happy (including me). I’m sure that as a combined force they will be raising the stakes in SaaS, application development and the Online Office, and probably other areas as well. Keep it coming!