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If Your Enterprise Can't Beat Consumer Apps, Why Fight Them?

If Your Enterprise Can't Beat Consumer Apps, Why Fight Them?

WorkLight, a Web 2.0 start-up, helps transport enterprise data to consumer applications such as Facebook and iGoogle. In this Q&A, WorkLight's CEO says if you can do this securely, you should give users what they want — and you won't have to fork out the cash for SharePoint.

If you've ever sat in front of your computer and wished that you could see your ugly enterprise software appear in Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook or iGoogle, WorkLight might be the start-up vendor for you. The company's philosophy is pretty simple: if enterprise apps will never be as cool as their cousins in the consumer market, why fight it? And if you can do this securely, without compromising your enterprise data, why not just give users what they want?

Since WorkLight launched in February, 2006, the company says it has garnered many large enterprise clients, including some major banks. Because customers use a WorkLight server that sits behind a firewall and acts as middleware between the enterprise app and consumer app, the information doesn't pass through Google or Facebook's servers.

Last week, CIO's C.G. Lynch caught up with WorkLight's CEO and co-founder, Shahar Kaminitz, for a quick update on the Web 2.0 market moving forward and WorkLight's place in it.

Who is buying WorkLight? And how are enterprises using it?

Our customers are all really large enterprises with rather complex requirements around security and compliance. Some use it for externally-facing applications to serve their customers and business partners outside the firewall.

E-banking is a classical example. Every bank pretty much has an online banking site or portal, where customers can log-in, check their balance, pay their bills or look at their portfolio. Overall, they often see disappointing usage off these portals, because it requires people to proactively come into the bank's website, log-in, and check their accounts.

It's not so much a Web 2.0 approach, where you have everything personalized and just the way you want it. So we've done some projects with big retail banks, to take this secure information of their customers and making it available where their customers are spending their online time.

What consumer apps do these customers prefer?

It pretty much follows their habits and people's habits are different. So today, when you deploy WorkLight's technology, you get the applications available automatically on 15 different environments. The environment [users choose] is often different based on their geography and demography. With a younger demographic, obviously Facebook is pretty big. The personalized homepages like iGoogle and live.com are also pretty popular. In other places, outside the U.S., there are other services that are more popular, like Netvibes, which is very popular in Europe. We've seen, in other demographics, that desktop widgets like Vista Sidebar gadgets or the Apple gadgets. I think it's pretty much about giving your customers a choice.

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