I got the chance to sit down with Robert Scoble for 20 minutes last Friday. The thing that has puzzled me recently is whether mash-ups are for real, or just another Web 2.0 buzzword.
So I asked Robert: "Are mash-ups going to make a real difference outside of the digerati - do you think they'll make it into the enterprise?"
His take was: what's to prevent mash-ups from being the main way that departmental apps are built in most enterprises 3-4 years from now?
We've seen composite applications pitched for years, with some very cool companies like Digital Harbor building development environments for constructing them, but in a way mash-ups are an even simpler way to build a composite application - pull together a set of ICCs (still looking for the definitive term for this, as are others, it seems - see Harry Pierson's discussion).
So what would an enterprise mash-up server look like? How would it have to be packaged in order to be adopted by departmental users? Would it be hosted like the other new technologies that are breaking into departmental use (salesforce.com, MarketTools, ExactTarget, etc.) or would it need to be a local server?
One of the other issues Robert raised was that of attention, and its necessary evolution to make the computing experience more useful. Currently, attention is captured and processed only on the server, which makes for some thorny issues about trust (who am I trusting with my attention data? and why?). To deal with these issues it seems to me that there will need to be a client-side standard for attention, implemented by browsers for inter-ICC communication, as opposed to relying on the server to have good behavior.
Then, in a twist of synchronicity, I got to talk with a very early-stage company building a mash-up server that can run on the client or the server. It's in stealth so I can't disclose much more yet... but I am becoming convinced that this programming model could be just the thing to build SaaS composites on.
[Updated to add reference to Harry Pierson's entry.]