Wikis, Ajax, Mashups, Mashets, Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and if all else fails… Joe Kraus

The tech blogosphere is all about what’s hot. Clearly. There is a bit of “who’s hot,” but I love the collaborative engine that moves the blogerati.

Because I’m steeped in client work at present, I’m compelled to write about how web applications stand to reinvent how information gets disseminated at work. Is Web 2.0 forging yet another tech revolution for the Enterprise? My good buddy, Josh Greenbaum, who is a long-time writer in the ERP sector takes umbrage with the all the giddiness surrounding Web 2.0. You can read his thoughts on ZDNet or two excellent columns from Intelligent Enterprise here and here. Even Phil Wainwright, whom I knew before he was the rock star he is today, wrote a somewhat damning post last week on web 2.0’s readiness for prime time.

Oh, Joe Kraus. He’s become the poster child for Web 2.0. I just threw him in the headline to see if I could boost my blogstats. Kraus is CEO of installed enterprise app killer JotSpot.

Tweaking the Bizplan

Because of my involvement with a hot startup software company, I've been doing a lot of research/reading on what Business 2.0 is calling the "Next Net." This raging interest in the the web (again) and new digital platforms is serving up new, explosive opportunities for all firms in the IT Services sector.

"We are in the early stages of what might be better thought of as the Next Net. The Next Net will encompass all digital devices, from PC to cell phone to television. Its defining characteristics include the ability to interact instantaneously with any of the more than 1 billion Web users across the globe — not by, say, instant messaging, but by evolving instant-voice-messaging and instant-video-messaging apps that will make today's e-mail and IM seem crude.

The Next Net is deeply collaborative: People from across the planet can work together on the same task, and products or tools can be rapidly tweaked and improved by the collective wisdom of the entire online world." Business 2.0

Therefore, in the process of refining my focus, I've decided to focus exclusively on this new area of "digital innovation" in the IT Services marketplace. The interactive agency sector will certainly be covered within this spectrum, but I'm expanding my coverage on the blog and for my business to include all client engagements and project work that fits within these parameters.

Sapient an Interactive Agency or not?

I finished the GITS story on the econsulting/interactive agency sector. I didn't have enough length to do the story I researched, so pieces of it are going to show up here. A big help in framing the story was Harley Manning, a longtime Forrester Research analyst. Manning got cut from the final edit on the piece, which was unfortunate. There aren't too many analysts covering the sector, or who've been around long enough to put some perspective on what's happened since the dotcom runup.

The big surprise in the reporting was that Advertising Age had named Sapient #2 Interactive Agency in this year's annual ranking of the top 50 Interactive Agencies. The report was published in the April-May time frame and rankled a few competitors that I talked to. Almost unanimously the CEOs and high level execs I spoke with discounted that Sapient was in the sector at all. Only one competitor that had fairly personal knowledge of the company's strategy in interactive, disagreed. Here are some sample remarks:

"No way is Sapient in our space… these guys only make things more interesting for us." CEO, large Interactive Agency

"Sapient is a solid firm, no question… really more of a mini-Accenture than anything else. Great for jobs in the $500k-$1M range, and an attractive alternative to hiring the big, big guys. But an interactive shop? Nah." CEO, small Interactive Agency

However, rounding out the perspective was Alan Osetek, VP Isobar US, who lobbed in this commentary while traveling in South Africa:

"Sapient is an interactive powerhouse to be reckoned with. They were a systems integrator, offshoring house up until about a year, year and a half ago. They've taken a turn to go after companies like Digitas and Isobar and build up their digital marketing capability. They've got about 1000 people in the US [doing this] and about 2000 in India now, a large, significant operation. They're a well-deserved #2."

Now. I called Ad Age to pry into how they arrived at Sapient's number and what they were counting for "Interactive Revenue." I spoke to Craig Endicott at Ad Age who told me the publication sends out a questionnaire and the companies submit their numbers. So, in essence, they accept what the companies submit to them. He told me, however, that Sapient did not respond last year at all to the survey. In the Agency Profiles Supplement, there is more detail on how they arrived at Sapient's number ($176 million). And via Sapient, interactive revenue is reportedly "marketing-related web development, including using the Internet as a medium" according to Ad Age.

So, there you have it. Undoubtedly this arena is where Sapient is interested in moving, but did Sapient deserve the #2 ranking? That is the question.