It's pretty rare, in-fact almost unknown for me to get excited by a new application or web service. CIOs probably feel the same way, you get to point where the same promises keep being made - ECM anyone - but the delivery never seems to arrive. But earlier this week a mash up of Google maps and a web service truly got me excited.
Recently I was fortunate enough to be asked by the cycling community to write an article about Britain's top professional mountain bike racer, Jenny Copnall. The article involved spending a day out on a road bike following her training route and regime. It was a fantastic busman's holiday. The article required a map of the route. Having seen the route for this weekend's Surrey 100, an event set on the Surrey Hills where Orange Business Services CIO Vincent Kelly unwinds on a mountain bike, I investigated the application used: www.routeyou.com.
The true test of any application is, to my mind and its short attention span, is it instantly usable; routeyou ticks that box, in just 15 minutes I had registered for the service, understood its functionality, created the map and sent it to the publication.
I've read and heard a lot about mashups from various commentators and have, so far, seen little value from them, until now. Google maps are weak when compared to the CEO of all maps, the Ordnance Survey, but the functionality here is excellent, the presentation of the site good and I know I'll use it again. But what is the business model? There's Google Ads and they will be getting a database of geeks like me who like maps and plotting routes for riding bikes, but none of this strikes me as generating enough revenue to live off or grow a business from.
As a member of the media, and therefore the old business world, I look at "Web 2.0" products and see inventiveness and innovative ways of engaging with new and existing customers. The challenge for CIOs is to spot these on the web and quickly assess the business opportunities and launch a service.
Talking of technology moving us forwards, last night the CIO UK editorial team, well two of us, rode bicycles from our offices in St Pancras to south west London and on to the Surrey Hills. Throughout the two hour journey the thing that slowed us down the most was the automobile and the infrastructure it needs, now is that progress!