The prospects of Rich Web Applications in transforming future web environment


Web 2.0 is the emerging wave of online activity that has transformed the way society and businesses interact. Though the technology has been developing since the 1990s, nevertheless the realization of its potential and adoption has only been recently materialized. Web 2.0 is the platform that has revolutionized social networking activities, and it is also fast becoming the platform for business organizations to transform their business functions and operations. Apart from these, the dimensions of Web 2.0 are vast and pervasive. One particular area of interest to the researcher is Rich Internet Application (RIA) and its subgroup Rich Web Application (RWA). RWA in particular has been the major technological development, which has transformed the way web users interact and communicate. There is a lot of potential for its adoption especially in the area of business operation, communication, interaction and exchange.

To explore these dimensions of RWA and its implication on future web environment, the researcher has adopted a qualitative method to review and evaluate RWA in the context of Web 2.0 environment. An extensive literature review has enabled the researcher to develop a theoretical framework, and analyze how RWAs can enrich Web 2.0 business environment. The results indicate that there is a lot of potential for RWAs to progress and exploit in the future provided its developers and adopters collaborate in advancing Web 2.0 technology. There is a high level of demand for this type of interactive and easy-to-use applications in particular by business organizations. By harnessing business needs beforehand, developers would benefit from anticipating future demands. However, some limitations hinder Web 2.0 tools development, which must be addressed by technologists.


Problem Statement

The emergence of the Internet as the medium for exchange, since the 1990s, has transformed the way society and business interact and participate. The virtual world is no longer exclusive to technologists but has become the "portal" for the common person to share, interact, participate and express him or herself. Contingent to this change, technologists have been helpful in contributing to creating user-friendly technologies. Today, as the Internet experiences another wave of change, technologists have excelled in their trade by producing socially-driven technologies based on service-oriented architecture, and applications such as mySpace, YouTube, and Facebook etc. came into being. The approach is based on non-hierarchical end-user involvement, with bottom-up approach to sharing, socializing, and contribution. The movement to Social Software, according to Patrick and Dotsika (2007), encourages knowledge sharing through development of social interaction systems centred on problem solving. It empowers users, as well as creates an environment in which users hold the knowledge. This movement is not limited to the corporate users but also to students, professionals and academicians. Thus, social technologies based on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Web services and Social Networks are the frameworks that enable technologists to tailor-make software to adapt to the environment, instead of the other way around to bridge the socio-technical gap (See Figure 1). One of the key successful enterprises in this endeavour is the concept of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is a new Web concept coined by Tim O'Reilly (2005). According to O'Reilly's definition, Web 2.0 is:

"....the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an “architecture of participation”, and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences" (O'Reilly 2005)

In this context, Web 2.0 is derived from a set of principles and practices within the social technology boundaries. For example, Web 2.0 is user-oriented, with users as co-developers by incorporating blogs, tags, podcasts and wikis etc. It is customisable in terms of contents and interfaces, while its core applications run through browser and web server using web standards such as XHTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX), Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) (Curran, Murray and Christian 2007). Instead of programmers or Web developers, end-users have control over the content, sources, as well as knowledge of the service. Interfaces are becoming more lightweight to accommodate development and business models, and hardware requirements. This second generation of network-centric services are being made available in a new environment of interactive social networking websites, wikis, blogs and communication tools using the Web as a platform for developing content that support customization and collaboration with other Web contents. The need for flexible technologies, such as rich Web applications inherent in Web 2.0, provides ample opportunities (and some pitfalls) for technologists. Dynamic Web interaction has changed the nature of the World Wide Web entirely (Curran, Murray and Christian 2007). Web 2.0 (and Web 3.0 in the future) holds a lot of potential for creating highly interactive Web content, environment and services for users and creators alike. Some of the important aspects that emerge from Web 2.0 include how service-oriented architectures, rich Internet applications, and software as a service technologies can evolve the Web even further, especially for business end-users. Furthermore, it also raises the issue of developing people-centric knowledge management systems, which may affect Web content due to simultaneous modifications. Although, a number of major software companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Adobe have been ahead in competition to produce social software, yet their contribution, compared to the rest, raises the question whether following these leaders is wise at all; especially when the future of Web 2.0 is critical in terms of reliable content, technology risks, and software development challenges.

Rationale for the Study

Despite the above challenges, the researcher is of the view that there is a lot of potential in future Web environments, considering the parallel development of SOAs and software as a service (SaaS). According to a Datamonitor (2007) report, "As organizations roll out service-oriented architecture, they will turn to rich Internet and Web applications for the final link: the human-machine interface." Rich Web Applications (RWAs), a segment of the Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), enable organizations and technologists to experiment with concepts, needs, and services for technologies embedded in today's living environment. RWAs are Web applications that are rich in interactivity, user-interface friendly and having capabilities like desktop-like applications. RWAs, the researcher feels, will particularly be an important platform for future business service applications which would provide superior multimedia capabilities, as well as be the source for business service solutions in the future. These aspects lead the researcher to hypothesize that RWAs have a definite impact on the future Web environment, which may or may not be limited to the progress of Web 2.0 environment.

Aims and Objectives

In the following dissertation, the researcher shall aim to achieve the following objectives:

i. To demonstrate that Web 2.0 provides a Web environment conducive to business entities with the development of SOA-based applications.

ii. To prove that RIAs and RWAs based on SOA facilitate future organizations with the technological platform for providing services in today's living environment.

iii. To establish that the future of RWAs is inherent in today's organizational capabilities in integrating Information Systems and application development that support RWAs.

The basic aim is to identify challenges and opportunities that make Rich Web Applications a key aspect of developing the next generation Web-based content of Web 2.0. This shall not be limited to end-users, but shall proliferate to how organizations conduct businesses and how they interact with the market they cater to.

Scope and Limitation

The following dissertation aims to enumerate on the possibilities that RWAs provide to the Web 2.0 environment and beyond. The researcher is of the view that RWAs will not only affect technologists' attitude and view of the World Wide Web, but also those who use it. Considering the extensive boundary of Web users, the researcher is of the view that RWAs have deeper impact on businesses and organizations apart from students or individuals. Business organizations, professionals, as well as academicians, shall find the following study useful in enriching their knowledge of RWAs. The contents perhaps may enable them to make knowledge decisions within their span of expertise. Similarly, technology, business and social students may find the following dissertation useful in furthering their knowledge horizon by providing a base for future studies. Even the individual readers shall find the following pages interesting and useful in enumerating on the future of the Web - a place where a significant segment of the population spends its time.

Alternatively, the dissertation is not compiled with the view to provide technical knowledge which may prove limiting for technology readers. Instead, the researcher seeks to find solutions and provide recommendations for RWAs in a business environment, without excluding social, individual and technological aspects. For these reasons, technologists and academicians may find the research contents pervasive and non-specific.

Considering these limitations, the researcher shall restrict the study to RWAs and their prospects to the future Web 2.0 environment. Though it will touch briefly on other Web environments, the research contents shall focus on how RWA enriches Web 2.0 contents and environment. Furthermore, the research shall evaluate RWA aspects from the business and organizational context, with the view to provide recommendations on how they should integrate RWAs in their organizational strategies. However, the researcher shall endeavour to focus on the various aspects of RWAs and how they affect the Web 2.0 environment.

Dissertation Outline

To achieve the above objectives, the researcher has designed the dissertation in the following manner.

Chapter 1 shall introduce the topic, and how it is an issue that is rapidly affecting organizations, individuals and technologists.

Chapter 2 shall include an extensive literature review of the various aspects of RWAs, Web 2.0 and the future of Web environment. The rest of the dissertation shall base its analysis and evaluation based on this literature review to formulate a theoretical framework.

Chapter 3 shall be an outline of the various methods the researcher considered before choosing the research-based style. It also outlines how the data is collected and organized.

Chapter 4 shall be an evaluative chapter of the material gathered to develop a theoretical framework.

Chapter 5 shall use Chapter 4 to evaluate the aims and objectives set at the beginning of the research.

Chapter 6 shall provide conclusions derived from Chapter 2 and Chapter 5. It shall also provide recommendations for RWA users.

Definitions and Notations

Web 2.0: refers generally to Web tools that, rather than serve as a forum for authorities to impart information to a passive, receptive audience, actually invite site visitors to comment, collaborate, and edit information, creating a more distributed form of authority in which the boundaries between site creator and visitor are blurred. (Oberhelman 2007)

Web services: is the term used to describe a set of inter-related technologies that allow information systems to be assembled from standard components (Daniel, White and Ward 2004).

Mashups: mixing Web services (Butler 2007)

AJAX: Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path coined the term in February 2005) - “a Web development technique that transfers the rendering of the user interface to a local machine, while maintaining a significant portion of the data on a remote server to create a highly responsive desktop experience.” (Craig 2007).

RIA (Rich Internet Application): “RIAs connect client applications with the server-side using the Internet (or Intranet).” (“Rich Web Applications” 2007).

RWA (Rich Web Application): “Applications that could split the application logic between presentation logic that runs on the client-side and business logic and data models that run on the server-side. The rich web application user interface (UI) is as rich as in desktop applications, and runs in the browser using a combination of languages.” (Butler Group 2007).

SaaS (Software as a Service): “Software that is rented rather than purchased. Instead of buying software and paying for periodic upgrades, SaaS is subscription based, and all upgrades are provided during the term of the subscription. When the subscription period expires, the software is no longer valid.” (PC Mag Online Encyclopaedia 2007).

API (Application Programming Interface): A language and message format used by an application program to communicate with the operating system or some other control program such as a database management system (DBMS) or communications protocol. APIs are implemented by writing function calls in the program, which provide the linkage to the required subroutine for execution. Thus, an API implies that some program module is available in the computer to perform the operation or that it must be linked into the existing program to perform the tasks.” (PC Mag Online Encyclopaedia 2007).


Web 2.0

Ever since its introduction to the masses during the 1990s, the World Wide Web has changed the way the world interacts and communicates. Today, the Web is a major part of modern society. It is no longer static and based on CGI (Common Gateway Interface) and Perl-based applications. Instead, it has become highly dynamic in adjusting to emerging technologies like XML (eXtensible Markup Language), SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), and SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture). The changing face of the Web implies a new generation of Web experience characterized by dynamism, interactivity, openness and flexible applications (Rapoza 2007). According to Patrick and Dotsika (2007), the development of this interactive Web environment stems from social transformation and transfusion of man and technology to communicate, cooperate and share information. The need to learn, forge, and bridge the socio-technical gap. As a consequence, socially driven technologies such as Open Source, General Public License and Creative Commons have become popular among technologists. It is through the Social Software movement that Web 2.0 emerged and radically changed the commercial and individual Web world. Web 2.0 is "the Web as a platform for interacting with content" (Boutin 2006). It is "an attitude not a technology" (Davis 2005). Web contents tailored to the users, as seen epitome on Web 2.0, are difficult to categorize as their material users become diverse, and technologists find it difficult to sustain knowledge modelling, standardization, security and maintenance in such an environment. It is difficult to foresee a future for Web 2.0, according to some sceptics like Patrick and Dotsika (2007). With limitations like running RIAs being offline, applications' flexibility for customization or mashup does not really distinguish Web 2.0 from other type of software applications environment (Rapoza 2007).

On the other hand, Curran, Murray and Christian (2006) are of the view that Web 2.0, made up of interlinking Web pages, encourages sustained growth as more users add contents. It is not limited to product restrictions such as cost of software, limited applications due to platform incompatibility, product life span and continuous upgrades. It allows the user to have control of the information, as well as adapt it to their needs without having technical knowledge. Unlike the static Web 1.0 technologies, Web 2.0 technologies are user-dependent and highly dynamic (See Table 1). Users are familiar with the design, which provides opportunities for adaptability and capabilities through interaction. Thus, by providing an "architecture of participation" (O'Reilly qt. Wilkins 2007), Web 2.0 applications allow users to "deepen their content and value" through collaborative tools such as workspaces, blogs, and wikis.

Wilkins (2007) notes that Web 2.0 application type is based on a new development model. It is faster than traditional software models, and designed to function transparently to the user. These applications are built around standard applications through mashups that provide opportunities for organizations and individuals to link different applications and data sources with the least effort. Users do not have access problems to their preferred applications, as they are easily available through feeds and online content. Web 2.0 applications also provide scalability, are structured for edition, require user participation and, with more users, the application becomes better (Wilkins 2007).

Considering the need for flexibility in an evolving business environment, organizations have discovered the increasing importance of the Web, and in particular Web 2.0, for business activity. According to a Datamonitor Report (2007), "Innovations in modern browsers allowed vendors to build the first rich Web application". Since then, RIAs and RWAs have advanced drastically to facilitate business and consumer logic into Web interaction. These include RWA user interface, desktop applications on the Web, and browsers using combination languages. RWAs, according to the same report, imply several dimensions in business Web strategy, such as the following:

* "Internal use of RWA for providing the presentation layer to SOA.

* Internal use of RWA for providing the presentation layer in composite applications, such as mixing Web services and other data sources, including enterprise applications and legacy systems.

* Helping re-engineer business processes for rapid reaction to business opportunities.

* Moving application development from silo, departmental activity, to a Web-based one with greater potential for re-use. For example, an internal software-as-a-service model." (Datamonitor 2007).

As a result of Web 2.0 applications, the Web environment has changed to what is known as Enterprise Web 2.0. It is characterized by multimedia contents, user facilities for uploading and downloading contents, and mashups of Web services to create new applications and services. Many of these Web 2.0 applications are developed using Ajax. "Ajax is a Web development technique that transfers the rendering of the user interface to a local machine, while maintaining a significant portion of the data on a remote server to create a highly responsive desktop experience." (Craig 2007). Rich Web interface, as noted by Rapoza (2007), includes drag-and-drop capabilities, drop-down and right-mouse menus along with interactive and real-time data responsiveness. It includes an administrative interface for server and service applications, without flashy animations or flashing icons. Other characteristics of a rich Web environment include open standard of Web applications, dynamic data usage, online and offline availability, and flexibility in its applications. However, Rapoza (2007) also notes that these characteristics are still at their rudimentary stages, as the majority of companies providing rich Web interface services are still finding ways to fully provide realistic, dynamic and flexible applications, without compromising the integrity of their service or software.

The possible solution to this dilemma, according to Flora (2007), is to manage Web 2.0 contents. If an organization identifies its core objectives and communicates it to its users, then it would be able to push out contents that conflict with the interest of the organization, without degrading its standards. Moreover, it would be able to encourage participants to maintain its integrity by providing tools such as filters, site administrative strategies and editors to curb unwanted content insertions. Once these screening strategies are in place, the administrator or service providers can also encourage community ambassadors to empower them, to protect contents that are valuable and of their interests. Automatically, this type of social policing strategies filters unwanted or inappropriate contents that usually compromise the integrity of Web sites or services (Flora 2007).

Implications on Business

Total business expenditure on Internet services, software and hardware, for the year 2004, reached £8.29bn in the United Kingdom - a rise of approximately 16%, according to a Key Note Report (Gower 2005). The majority of the market is driven by software and services that businesses exploit to improve productivity. Despite the rise in revenues through brick and mortar establishments, companies are veering towards e-commerce to complement their business strategies. As a result, the IT industry has started to focus its investments in application development for business-improvement products and services. Services and software for businesses include those that create Web presence, connectivity, and e-commerce. However, the emergence of Web 2.0 has changed this trend.

Online productivity services are now considered critical for business functions, as well as returns. According to Singer and Stephens (2007), businesses often invest in office applications with tools that may increase initial cost and do not really improve productivity. Web 2.0 tools, on the other hand, facilitate consistent and reliable Internet access for patrons and clients alike. These tools may range from word processing to page layout creators. For example, Google Spreadsheets and Google Docs provide software facilities that are available online, easy-to-use and access. Zoho Office Suite, similarly, provide a host of tools and services. Web 2.0 also facilitates offline options that are critical for users to browse and print without having to go online. These application tools are developed through open-source professionals and are proving to be powerful online options (Singer and Stephens 2007).

Open-source software (OSS), although face criticism due to their setback in hidden costs, maintenance, training and support, are being adopted by the business community as they provide services that are superior in quality and flexibility. Similarly, RIAs are fast becoming the preferred applications in business as they allow users to create "desktop-like user experiences for fully Web-enabled applications" ("Application Development and Lifecycle Management" 2006). Developers are finding that RIAs are not only useful for client-server applications development, but also for general-purpose applications. With a single instalment on the server, applications can be used by multiple clients by simply connecting to the Internet. The applications perform similar to desktop ones, yet they do not require extensive changes or updates. Furthermore, as more and more users participate, their standards and security also improve. Users are free from corporate LAN or desktops. There is no need for organizations to invest in extensive software or hardware. Business-user needs are met by logging onto a browser and using an Internet connection to run applications. From the business perspective, RIAs are an important advancement in applications development scenario, as organizations are finding Web-based interaction and service-oriented architecture complementing their changing corporate environments. With the introduction of Ajax, RIAs have become the ultimate choice for organizations in terms of remote Web access, cost effectiveness and availability of applications ("Application Development and Lifecycle Management" 2006). Thus, RIAs have become the established mode of application development.

Within the realm of RIAs are Rich Web Applications. RIAs connect client applications to the server via the Internet or Intranet. RIAs can be categorized into browser and out-of-browser. Browser based RIAs are called RWAs. RWAs can be defined as, “Applications that could split the application logic between presentation logic that runs on the client-side and business logic and data models that run on the server-side. The rich web application user interface (UI) is as rich as in desktop applications, and runs in the browser using a combination of languages” (Butler Group 2007). The SOA concept is used in RWA, whereby the applications are accessible via the Web using Ajax. Ajax is a set of languages and techniques used for developing RWAs. According to a Butler Group report, application development today is transitioning towards SOA characterized by RIAs because there is a great demand for human-application interface, such as the Web, for dynamic content access. RWAs are a subgroup of the RIAs market that is currently gaining popularity due to their diffusion and innovation in application development. As a result, Web application development has transitioned from HTML to RIAs, with Ajax being the leading technique for creating Rich Web Applications ("Rich Web Applications" 2007).

The key to RWAs popularization is Ajax. Ajax is a cross-platform, cross-browser technology that enables JavaScript engine to download RWA for user interface activities and data access from the server. While Ajax is advanced in its own right, it is not consistent in its browser products or services. Vendors like Adobe, Microsoft and Java, all have exploited the possibilities for browser-based applications and linked client environments. However, most of these vendors face the problem of fat clients and their inaccessibility. Thin clients, on the other hand, may prove to be in a more advantageous position to run applications and access full-scale applications on the server. For this reason, RWAs, serving thin clients, make business sense as they facilitate organizations in terms of Internet access, usage, B2B and B2C interactions ("Rich Web Applications" 2007).

Moreover, organizations are finding the business aspect of RWAs more appealing than their usage. Considering that around 1600 mashups are registered, as of March 2007 ("Rich Web Applications" 2007), investors are finding consumer activities, such as search, shop, photo, join and participate (SOA based activities), as potentials for building consumer-oriented businesses. Instead of consuming, business organizations are considering RWAs as a base for providing Web services such as those provided by Amazon Web Servers, eBay Developers Program, and Windows Live Dev etc. Thus, the new consumer-oriented environment has become popularized by SOA even more. Applications like QED Wiki from IBM, Pipes from Yahoo!, and Web Integration Platform from Kapow Technologies are leading new types of applications mashups. For the corporate users, such tools are useful in meeting business requirements, as well as to enable them to increase productivity. Productivity suites like Microsoft Office and similar productivity applications are transitioning drastically. Some RWA tools include Ajax toolkits, browser plug-ins like Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, heavyweight platforms and end-to-end Web development frameworks, and a host of others.

As RWA, SOA and similar Web services are altering the Web infrastructure with dynamic applications, it is expected that application development will change even further in the future, to complement Web services and SOA. This change will bring forth new techniques and languages such as ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) tools from players like Microsoft, IBMRational and Borland. Methods like Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Scrum, and Extreme Programming (XP), with Rational Unified Process (RUP) are likely to gain more popularity among users depending on the need and requirements of organizations (Azoff et al 2007).

There are three main roles for enterprise RWA developers, according to a Butler Group Report (Azoff et al 2007). Firstly, determination of skills availability for the organization to develop cost effective solutions for its business needs. Developing a platform requires custom development and support from time to time. This can be achieved by investing in a customer support system. Secondly, the development team must consider the user interface before designing the applications and consider aspects including, but not limited to, corporate standardization and usability for the business users (Azoff et al 2007).

Implications on Users

Whether it is Web 1.0 or Web 2.0, the users are the ultimate dictators of the trend. In the case of Web 2.0, users are highly demanding, as they are not mere end-users from everyday walk of life. Instead, the Butler Group reports (Azoff et al 2007) that Web 2.0 users are highly intelligent, have knowledge of the technologies to harness it for valuable functions, and require software to be dynamic to cater to cross-border software-rich experiences. Typical Web 2.0 users, therefore, include Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Technology Officer (CTOs) or IT manager, apart from the usual business and individual users (Azoff et al 2007).

The market is characterized by socially driven technologies that have accelerated Internet usage, tools development and user involvement. Web 2.0 platform is based on high level of end-user involvement with a bottom-up oriented approach to technology contribution. The social software development movement has directly affected the emergence of a generation of future knowledge users, workers and organizations. For this purpose, Web 2.0 developers make use of HCI and Web services to cater to the requirements of these users. Since the ownership lies with the creator and/or users, technological development also uses a humanistic approach to develop knowledge systems based on social networks. The key element, according to Patrick and Dotsika (2007), is the "combination of PC and user independence, and is in essence an architecture that will enable individuals and groups to use common tools in order to create and share information and knowledge." (Patrick and Dotsika 2007). Thus, the new type of consumers on Web 2.0 does not necessarily possess specialised technical skills, yet they demand usage flexibility rivalling technologists. They want to be able to develop new applications; share information instantly in a rich graphical environment. Users in the market of Web 2.0 can be managers of medium-to-large size projects; managers of knowledge departments; senior management of firms or librarian. They all recognize the importance of standardization, compatibility in application development, and inclusion of mainstream software which tailor to their needs ("Application Development and Lifecycle Management" 2006).

Web 2.0 consumers require flexibility like mashups to assemble different sources or services to have a single seamless experience. Enterprise applications developers are aware of the constantly dynamic environment of the Web 2.0 realm. The mature market requires consolidations at higher ends, yet, at the same time, it also needs suppliers to merge to consolidate software development. As a result, SOA has gained much appeal to vendors who are concentrating on one-stop shop experience for users to reduce technical support and cost. By using a common platform, significant improvement can be brought about within the infrastructure components in applications development. Vendors like BEA, IBM, Sun and Microsoft realize the advantages of an integrated infrastructure for applications products and services for businesses that follow value chain strategies. These vendors address almost all areas of the organization's functions, from the supply chain to customer relationship management to enterprise resource planning systems. Packages are developed to cater to business growth models, such as business process outsourcing (BPO) and similar applications ("Exploiting Enterprise Applications" 2006).

With the rise in enterprise applications demand, new methods for software development have emerged parallel to the dynamic Web 2.0 environment. The rise of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools, for example, has improved service delivery, coordination and development productivity. Integrated ALM tools also provide users with separate tools to cover multiple tasks and ensure training is imparted to consumers to improve team collaboration. Furthermore, as new areas of application development come into view, IT infrastructure is also being changed through SOA. SOA and ALM, both have evolved to facilitate project management, modelling and design, core development and testing needs in applications development, which has improved its quality and availability ("Application Development and Lifecycle Management" 2006).

With the shift in applications development to complement the demand for Web services and SOA, RWAs shape the market trends through tools and improved lifecycle management. Furthermore, a set of techniques, such as Ajax, are being used to develop Web applications with rich User Interfaces (UIs) that can be run on current generation browsers. Since toolkits are easily available with Ajax, it has become the preferred tool for Web browser developers. RWAs are presently at the early phases, yet their market is large, including business and individual consumers. The easiness, with which RWAs are integrated into different functions and programs, makes it easy to manage data transfer and reduce network traffic. The composite application environment that RWAs provide, complements the need of modern enterprise. Enterprise legacy and applications created from Java and .NET are seen as services and components that are lightweight, and easy to connect between client and server via the Internet (Azoff et al 2007).

Web application development also depends on the target user, that is, whether it is a consumer or business user. The difference specifies requirements for setting up platforms, whereas the Internet consumer does not really need such mandates. In the case of the business user, reservations for a wide variety of operating systems and browsers are required, with mature control solutions and plug-ins for browser resource access. Corporations usually require RWAs for training, e-learning, problem training and simulation purposes, apart from the business functions in organizations. For these purposes, the heavyweight solution can use Microsoft .NET Framework, Java, Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight. Alternatively, the consumer as a user requires little downloads and do not require uninterrupted usage framework as such. Ajax, therefore, is used to develop applications and frameworks. In both cases, maintenance, skills available and environment are taken into account when developing cost effective applications (Azoff et al 2007).

Rich Interface Opportunities and Limitations

Considering the high level of interests developed by organizations to integrate RWAs and Web services, they have become important for developers and organizations alike. The key challenge is to integrate Information Systems that would serve customers, suppliers and business partners through shared business processes. Web services and RWA technology is being integrated into information systems to form standardized business components. Since RWAs are business-structure-dependent, there is no single solution for applications development. This brings forth issues of security, platform compatibility and/or runtime. Opportunities exist in using Web services in applications programming and publication on the Internet. According to Daniel, White and Ward (2004), Web services may be sourced from a host of internal and external providers, which opens doors for third party providers.

Furthermore, as the UK market increases in IT skills development, it does not necessarily mean that there will be an increase in users. Instead, efficiency in IT skills means that there will be lesser people at the user end to operate many dimensions of business functions without having to step out of the office (Gower 2007). This translates to the increase in demand for Web services and Web-based interfaces for remote business function and operations. A Key Note report indicates that the market for IT skills will increase, as companies encourage employees to acquire to improve efficiency. The market trend indicates that there will be a growth in the demand for IT skills, especially in the financial and business service sectors. This translates to the growth of e-learning, just-in-time training, mobile learning, blended learning, on-the-job training and managed services training. These types of value-added services training means that there would be an increase in the number of client organizations keen on developing employees to meet business needs. Similarly, students and individuals also require IT skills in the future to keep up with the current pace of institutions and social environments, respectively (Gower 2007).

The report (Gower 2007) also notes that the trend for generic IT user skills has increased significantly among managers, especially in Management Information Systems, which reflects on their roles in mass transactional and production activities. These managers are responsible for access and manipulation of data. There is also a growth in the demand for specialist IT skills for the purpose of maintenance of IT equipments in organizations. A third type of IT skill, which is more relevant to RWAs, is the skill to adapt to the growth of the Internet and Intranet in business organization communication, especially in B2B and B2C communications. This change reflects on the need to acquire IT skills related to communications applications software and systems (Gower 2007). These trends indicate that there is a great need for flexible platforms for business social interaction and communications in the future, especially those related to productivity. According to Jennings (2007), for example, application development fields for business have moved to the Web domain because it has closed the gap between functionality of client/server applications and the type of UIs required to deliver user response via the Web browser. RWA has progressed in development techniques in architectural change, improvement in interactivity and support for computing platforms. Change in these aspects also affects the opportunities present application developers and users in the future. For example, the same author predicts that the opportunity for architectural applications change creates greater "abstraction" between client and server, which impacts on enterprise, customers and business partners, as well as internal and external sources, such as SaaS and UI (Jennings 2007).

Alternatively, browser-based applications and software have limitations as well, to the extent of interaction and functionality they provide to the user. The RWA model not only increases applications opportunity, but also opens doors for new opportunities on the Internet. As Jennings (2007) indicates in her article, the liberation of abstraction between client and server also opens doors for assembling multiple back-end services and sources that can be used with any type of computing platforms (Jennings 2007). Not only this, but the new technology landscape means that RWA based on SOA will affect businesses in the future. Organizations have already started the move towards time-based results of goods and services. This reflects on the requirement for user participation and interaction. Consequently, users are not only the customers, but also the organizations' own workers. Participation is key in setting the agenda for private and public organizations' bottom-line. It is also the key to building a stronger Web-based model in which customer self-service concepts, richer UIs, Web site usability and critical model for consumer interaction characterize the framework. It also means that the Web in the future, based on SOA and Web services, will define underlying systems for RWAs (Jennings 2007).

Parallel to this growth, is the growth of Internet usage for business development. The Internet, according to a Key Note report (Gower 2005), is pressuring organizations to improve costs and efficiency through increased speed of supplies and delivery of goods and services. In various industries, competition is inherent in improving organizational value chain, improving and retaining a competitive position and sustaining customer demand. For this reason, companies are relying on the Internet and Intranet infrastructures for business operations. Therefore, ICT (Information and Communication Technology) has been modelled to enable businesses to communicate with clients, market products and services to existing and potential consumers, carry out e-commerce activities, track orders of goods and conduct e-business where possible (Gower 2005). Many organizations today rely on online technologies to improve value in investments. ICT services and equipment are becoming core values for businesses, shifting from efficiency tools to integrated systems with higher efficiency and capacity for productivity. The Internet, has become the focus for strategic platform in emphasizing tactics and enhancing business operations offline. It is through the Internet that customer information, details relating to products and services, and other critical business information that organizations plan, strategize and execute business development strategies (Gower 2007).


Research Paradigm

Before research begins, researchers need to set boundaries for the investigation (Gill and Johnson 1991). According to Barker (2002), evidence in research content becomes unbalanced if it does not follow a defined framework. For this purpose, researchers need to draw primary objectives in order to direct the investigation process. This can be achieved by setting research paradigms. Kuhn (1996) describes research paradigms as "universally recognized achievements that provide model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners." It is a way of having an overview of the problem. According to him, "if research is based on shared paradigms then its practitioners are committed to similar rules and standards." (Kuhn 1996). Consequently, paradigms need to be set before the researcher can endeavour to resolve a problem or issue undertaken for investigation. Once paradigms are identified for the research issue or topic, then approaches can be identified for its pursuance, and design and methods can be laid out. Thus, paradigms help in developing the hierarchy for the research process. It is a strategy for identifying the research problem issue and a guide for the researcher to defend his/her topic.

For this dissertation, the researcher has established paradigms at the beginning of the research under the Objectives head. The basic premise for the researcher is to establish that:

a. The current wave of Web 2.0 provides opportunities for business entities to explore new forms of interactivity via the Internet.

b. RWAs, a subgroup of RIAs, are the ideal technological platform for organizations to expand their business endeavours.

c. RWAs' future is inherent in their development in terms of support, adoption and integration.

d. Web 2.0 is the environment conducive for RWA development.

Quantitative Vs. Qualitative Research

Paradigms also help establish the method of research to be adopted for collecting data and interpreting it. According to Burrell and Morgan (1979), paradigms set the framework for understanding the process of research, and how the researcher approaches the subject matter (that is, whether from a positivist or phenomenological perspective). Positivist paradigm reflects the research subject from an external and objective point of view, as the researcher is independent and focussed on facts. The researcher's preferred method would be measurement, rather than based on concepts (Easterby-Smith et al 1991). Quantitative, objectivist, scientific and experimental research characterizes the positivist paradigm. In the research of Web 2.0 based RWAs, the researcher rejects this method as it does not complement the need of the research outcome. The researcher does not require factual outcomes based on empirical values. Instead, the researcher is interested in research methods that would help reveal speculation of the future of Web 2.0 and how it would be impacted by RWAs. He/she is in search of a method that would enable him/her to interpret the current trend, based on extensive literature. For this reason, the phenomenological paradigm serves the purpose. The phenomenological paradigm is a "bottom-up, inside-out" research approach. As Mangan et al (2004) writes, "Phenomenology is useful for finding out at the micro level about the behaviour of the decision maker." The phenomenological approach research is characterized by qualitative, subjectivity, humanism, induction and interpretation. For this reason, the research has adopted the qualitative approach. Gummesson (2006) argues that quantitative analysis is founded on qualitative and subjective assumptions. Consequently, interpretations are also based on the qualitative and subjective data. Management studies are usually based on subjective assumptions as these rely on the human behaviour. To conceptualize and generalize, substantive details are required to develop theory and hypothesize, which cannot be achieved if quantitative data from surveys and statistics are used.

Research Approaches

One of the most critical aspects of research is the approach to reasoning. There are basically three approaches to research reasoning or interpretation. These are deductive, inductive and a combination approach called abduction. While all approaches aim to advance knowledge, each one provides a framework for the study. The choice of approach depends on the argumentation line, according to Kovacs and Spens (2005). When the research process framework is established, the approaches are also chosen.

Deductive approach refers to the generalized approach. Its line of arguments usually follows a general rule published by previous research or theory. The logical conclusions is then derived from the theory or laws presented, based on hypothesis tested (Kirkeby 1990). Alternatively, the inductive research process involves specific empirical process (Johnson 1996). The arguments are based on collection of observations of the general facts or theory (Taylor et al 2002). The knowledge acquired from a general framework or literature may or may not be needed for developing the arguments. The third type, abductive research approach refers to research process that uses two different starting points for deliberation of an alternative theory of the phenomenon and/or to explain an established theory (Kirkeby 1990; Dubois and Gadde 2002). The abductive approach is usually based on real-life phenomenon and observation, but its base is inherent in the systematic combination of established theory matched with real-life observations.

Clearly, from these options, the inductive approach is preferred for the study of Web 2.0, as the researcher needs to study the issue from established theories and data to formulate his/her own framework. It is based on the study of the various literatures of industry reports, expert opinions and individuals that the researcher would be able to speculate the nature of Web 2.0 based RWAs, and how they can affect the future Web environment.

Methodology Choice Rationale

Using the above framework, the researcher has chosen research-based investigation as the researcher believes that the study of Web 2.0 and the prediction of RWAs' implication on it requires trend analysis and assumptions based on theoretical derivation. In research-based dissertation, the assumptions or hypothesis are established at the beginning of the research in the problem statement. The rest of the research content bases its analysis on the proposed theoretical framework. The conclusion is based on the first-hand observation by the researcher of published sources or first-hand observations. In this case, the researcher has established a research framework based on published sources. The primary and secondary sources, cited in the literature review gathered, shall enable the research to inductively interpret the results.


Traditional software engineering and model design had been based on object-oriented development. However, as systems analysis and development function progressed during the 1990s, a new wave of business communication and process automation had been introduced, whereby information exchange and integrated applications played critical roles in channelling unified message to external systems and vice versa. This type of service communication requires material change in the process of application development from text to window to Web browser mode, which we have discussed in Chapter 2. The client and server interactions have become more simplified, while the use of multimedia has been increased to accommodate for the needs of users, information systems and operational platforms. Thus, Extensible Markup Language (XML) has become the standardized programming language while the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) the function for client or server to implement objects such as Common Gateway Interface (CGI) or UIs. Regardless of the application, SOAP facilitates information accesses through interfaces that may be opened within intra-systems or from the Internet to access organizational service. Therefore, to understand exactly the nature of Web 2.0 and service applications therein, one must understand its theoretical context. According to Fensel and Bussler (2002), Web services can be defined as "software objects that can be assembled over the Internet using standard protocols to perform functions or execute business processes”. Alternatively, Ismail et al. (2002), define it as:

“ and consumer applications, delivered over the internet that users can select and combine through almost any device, from personal computer to a mobile phone. By using a shared set of protocols and standards, these applications will permit disparate systems to ‘talk' to one another, that is share data and services, without requiring humans to translate the conversation.” (Ismail et al 2002).

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines Web service as follows:

"A Web service is a software application identified by a URI, whose interfaces and binding are capable of being defined, described and discovered by XML artefacts and supports direct interactions with other software applications using XML based messages via Internet-based protocols" (Austin et al 2002).

From these definitions, the researcher understands that Web services have the following characteristics:

a. Software application that is assembled and used over the Internet using standard protocols.

b. Applications that facilitate users to share, select and interact without using complicated technical knowledge.

c. Software applications are considered Web services that are discoverable by XML artefacts and recognize XML based messages using the Internet or Intranet as the medium for exchange.

d. Web services may or may not exist on the Web, yet they are browser-centric as they are accessed through the Web.

Given these aspects, (See Figure 3), Web services have six critical advantages:

1. Simplicity in integration and adoption of systems for complex business processing, even though the Web service design development, maintenance and usage are based on complex service-oriented architecture.

2. Open standard is used based on existing protocols such as UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration), SOAP, WSDL and HTTP for enterprise and information exchange services. There is no need for extensive investment in support or communication protocols.

3. Flexibility is facilitated in point-to-point communication systems.

4. Broad scope integration of application system is provided that connects interfaces with other systems.

5. Efficiency is critical in Web services that allows users to have multiple entrances to the portal, yet bypassing traditional mode of integration.

6. Dynamism is provided to the processing, which enhances the business process efficiency (Yu and Chen 2003).

Despite these advantages, experts are careful in noting limitations as well. Issues like reliability of inter-operation of objects, security on the Internet, transactional barriers, and protocol limitations (Yu and Chen 2003).

Having said that, RWAs, which are the browser-based RIAs, exploit the open asynchronous channel of browser, and Web servers have gained popularity, especially among business community, due to the evolutionary development of Web applications designed for online interaction. As SOA mature, RWAs are becoming the preferred mode of application development. Business Web sites are finding Internet applications have broad spectrum of possibilities, not only for interactivity but also for business development as well. For example, multimedia capabilities, sound animation, video and improved interactivity on client and server machines are the features that attract business consumers the most, as these indicate possibilities of bi-directional communication, transactional capabilities, point-to-point processes for reduction of time-to-results access of services. Consequently, RWAs encourage both, business users and consumers, of public and private sector organizations alike ("Azoff et al 2007).


At the beginning of the research, in Chapter 1, the researcher has established the following objectives with the view to prove that RWAs have deep implications in the future of Web environment and experiences therein:

i. To demonstrate that Web 2.0 provides a Web environment conducive to business entities with the development of SOA based applications.

ii. To prove that RIAs and RWAs based on SOA facilitate future organizations with technological platforms for providing services in today's living environment.

iii. To establish that the future of RWAs is inherent in today's organizations capabilities in integrating Information Systems and applications development that support RWAs.

The following discussion shall endeavour to prove each of these objectives, thereby confirming the hypothesis set at the beginning of the research:

SOA Based RWA Technological Platform

During the earlier phase of the Web, computing innovations have been created for large public organizations or corporations providing consumer products. However, today the trend is such that the focus of Web development is no longer limited to corporations or organizations. Instead, it is based on social networking. As the Web experiences a wave of technological change, consumers are also having new experiences of technologies that enable them to interact, form communities, post photos, exchange videos and create blogs. Not only this, consumers are also finding that the advancement of Web 2.0 has introduced new applications designed for business organizations based on the same technologies called RWAs. Hamm (2007), for example, notes how vendors like Microsoft and IBM compete to have an edge in social networking technology production. It is becoming common for "packaged" software that bundle services like word processing, spreadsheets, databases, as well as blogs, wikis, and other social networking programs to serve the purpose of integrated communication and data access systems in organizations. For example, IBM's Lotus Connections and Microsoft's SharePoint.

Although, according to Havenstein (2007), the trends of adopting Web 2.0 tools are "slowly making their way to corporate users," they are not a new phenomenon. In fact, as the above literatures indicate, Web 2.0 technologies have been developed since the 1990s and integrated into the World Wide Web for quite sometime now. Yet, its adoption has only escalated recently due to a few reservations including security risks, investment in new technologies, and giving control to users/workers. However, the realization of the returns on adoption has successfully convinced management of organizations to adopt Web 2.0 tools.

Not only this, the social environment is undergoing a profound change that requires innovative tools and services to collaborate with organizations to deliver rapid communication, according to Craig (2007). Experiences within and outside the organization require that businesses develop a community-based collaborative structure to be able to remain connected with their environment where they expect commercial transactions. In this context, Web 2.0 has become the platform for creating, editing, sharing and maintaining Web contents valuable to individual and corporate users. The applications used to advance this experience vary; of which RWAs are one subgroup.

RWAs are fast becoming the applications for client/server interaction. RWA framework is governed by the server-side model, including enterprise objects, components, services, multi-tier server architectures, distributed computing and SOA, while the client side is characterized by RIA and RWA ("Rich Web Applications" 2007). It is the latter technology that has created a revolution in application technologies. Not only do RWAs facilitate document viewing, but also shopping, online interaction based on desktop utilities using Web interfaces such as blogs, wikis and Web space. While these technologies have been created earlier for individual users, its significance is now being realized by the corporate users. SOA based RWAs are being considered as the next evolutionary step to the Web experience because of their capabilities, including multimedia, animation, sound and video interactivity between the application and client PCs accessed via the Web.

Individual users, as discussed in the literature, dictate the trend. However, one must also note that the true capabilities of Web 2.0 tools like RWAs are being realized by the corporate users. Reports of RWAs' usage indicate that their market is characterized by professionals, management decision-makers and academicians who require a complex social networking hub for accessing information from their organizations. Therefore, RWA development combines the need of human-based interaction and high-end technology to access knowledge streams. Sharing of information in libraries, interaction among departments in large organizations, and reviewing decisions by management thinkers are some of Web 2.0's application usages. Although the individual users, such as students and Web surfer, may benefit from blogs, wikis and share point portals, it is the corporate workers and professionals who truly realize the potential of interactive communication with clients, suppliers and peers. Thus, RWAs basically form the platform for today's working environment.

Web 2.0 Environment Conducive to Business

Having established that Web 2.0 applications like RWAs form conducive environment for business organizations, the researcher is of the view that the market for Web 2.0 tools will expand as the Internet usage increases in the future. According to Key Note statistics (Gower 2005), UK business market is marked by increased Internet consumption. As more organizations are realizing the potential of e-commerce and Web presence, business strategies tend to include registering online, investing in Internet tools and application development for improved business products and services. In this context, it is seen that online productivity tools appeal to management decision-makers the most, as these demonstrate potential for returns on investments in terms of improved productivity, decreasing efficiency costs, and improving patrons' access. Tools like Google Spreadsheets and Google Docs, as well as Lotus Suites and Microsoft SharePoint - all are a few tools and services that provide easy-to-use access for the corporate user.

Furthermore, as Web 2.0 environment develops, more SOA application tools are being developed. The popularity has also been fuelled by the participation of OSS, which has contributed to the adoption of RWAs. Since RWAs provide desktop-like user experience without the setback of hidden costs, maintenance, training and support, businesses are finding them the most convenient innovation for meeting their productivity requirements ("Application Development and Lifecycle Management" 2006). Consequently, with a survey of the various vendors, the researcher notes that applications vendors are focussing on business development and productivity tools, rather than on other types of organizational tools. This is because the business consumers are the niche who will be dictating the trends in Web 2.0 tools development. There is a great need among business entities to have RWAs that diffuse a social networking environment with business environment Web applications. Perhaps, it is this demand that is making Ajax, the key language for developing RWAs, popular and important in developing Web 2.0 environments. Vendors like Adobe, Microsoft and Java, all vie to compete to exploit this market. Thus, as long as SOA applications such as RWAs serve business organizations' purpose, there is a lot of potential for its increased demand in the future.

Moreover, the researcher is of the view that it is expected that as business environments evolve, it would also affect the Web 2.0 environment to match organizational needs and functions. For example, functions like bookbags, shopping carts, saved searches, search history and virtual references are becoming common features in e-commerce Web sites. These are functionalities that business organizations using Web 2.0 elements require, to develop an interactive and synchronous online experience. Engaging consumers, as well as providing them knowledge of product and services, are some of the aspects that make RWAs important tools for business sustenance. Components like workers productivity, customer behaviour and demand, products and services - all play critical roles in dictating the business environment. Thus, in this context, the future of Web 2.0 is inherent in the dynamism of the business environment, rather than that of the individual users.

The Future of RWA in Web 2.0

As companies integrate interactive features, they are also realizing the risk of publication on the Internet for user-generated content. They run the risk of liabilities, conflicting interests and legal prosecution. Blogs, for example, may provide opportunities for users to give valuable comments, but they are also a tool that can act against the Web site. Thus, Web 2.0 tools should be incorporated with clear management strategy in mind. As contents develop, they must also be vigilantly monitored and allowed to be edited accordingly. According to Flora (2007), for example, "Once an organization has considered its reasons for incorporating interactive elements into its online offerings, as well as the type of content that will meet those needs, it must then consider a key aspect of managing user-generated content: when and how to moderate it." Further, it also needs to consider investment in support systems that would filter and screen contents that are posted. For example, CommunityCM platform offers module for curbing user violations. Alternatively, organizations can also downplay moderation by providing guidelines on the Web sites so users do not violate them. Penalty can be installed to ensure that users follow them accurately. Others believe that RWAs provide a user-friendly environment, which should not be curtailed. To ensure that the authenticity of the Web site remains, they can opt for options (made available by the organization itself) or report spam or violating contents.

Apart from these, Web 2.0 environments can be sustained if their state of adoption is focussed. According to a Butler Group report, RIA limitations are limited to browser technology and protocols. For example, browser using Java or .NET may not be able to play applications developed by Adobe. Consequently, businesses now need to start evaluating the RWA models they want to adopt. Issues like competitive advantage in investment, productivity level, innovation potential in the tools to be adopted, skills need and resources available for its adoption and maintenance need to be evaluated.

As reviewed in the literature, RWAs based on SOA technology have deep impact on businesses in the future (Jennings 2007). However, organizations need to reflect on the kind of participation and interactive service models they want to adopt to cater to the needs of their business. The pressure to improve costs and efficiency in organizations will no doubt increase the speed of adoption, yet this is much dependent on the ICT, RWA and SOA models used by organizations. For example, ALM tools have improved service delivery, coordination and development, but they have not changed the SOA models. For this purpose, experts are of the view that businesses should exploit new technology-exploring services, small pieces, participation and systems to enhance usage capabilities. By developing standards such as URI, HTTP and HTML will define the structure of future Web environments to achieve success and openness.

Furthermore, Web 2.0 environment advancement is dependent on vendor development and innovations. Currently, the market is dominated by Microsoft, which not only pervades innovation opportunities, but also inhibits other players from introducing new business concepts and services based on RWAs. Only recently, IBM has ventured to introduce its Lotus Connection, as well as Google with its Suites of desktop applications. Yet, Microsoft technologies remains the dominant brand for both business and consumer end-users (Gartenberg 2007). If new developments in terms of technology, self-service, mobility and personalization is expected in Web 2.0 and perhaps in Web 3.0, then vendors need to improve on the existing SOA to include these features and more (Benson and Favini 2006; Gartenberg 2007).



In the above study, the researcher has aspired to investigate the emerging trend of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 has become the mainstream domain for online interaction. It is a medium of exchange for information, social networking and corporate communication. It is, as O'Reilly coined, "the network as platform, spanning all connected devices" (O'Reilly 2005). It is based on HCI, Web services and Social Networks architecture to serve its audience - both business and individual users alike. What interests the researcher is the implication of this new wave of change on the future of web environment. How do Web 2.0 tools affect the Web environment for business entities or individual users? Do RIAs and RWAs, which are applications used in Web 2.0 environment, have potential to alter the future Web platform to facilitate interactivity? How do these applications affect business organizations and their information systems? Will development in RWAs and its support system help in generating demand for RWAs in the future? Will alternative design for enhancing capabilities affect its users? These are some of the questions that have motivated the researcher to conduct an investigation into the extent that Web 2.0, and in particular, RWAs impact the web environment.

From the above study and analysis, the researcher can safely conclude the following:

Web 2.0 is the new platform for software engineering based on SOA, XML language and SOAP. SOAP is the new information access protocol that allows users to bypass technical barriers of UIs and CGI. Instead, the new environment is characterized by software applications using URI and XML for message exchange via the Internet. This type of environment provides opportunities for Web service and RWA applications which are efficient, dynamic, flexible, open and simple to use that even an individual user does not need to have programming knowledge to operate. With this wave of technological revolution, RWAs have come into the mainstream of Web communication and interaction. More and more vendors have started to exploit the potential of RWAs for both business and individual end-users.

Web 2.0 environment, based on SOA, provides the platform for developing RWA technology. It is due to RWAs that online users are experiencing rich interfaces that enable them to interact, exchange, create and share online contents that were not possible earlier. Activities like forming communities, photos exchange, videos, blogs and wikis have become common.

Realizing the potential of RWAs, organizations have also started using them for business activities and functions. Early vendors like Microsoft have realized the potential of RWAs as the key tools for online business activities. Products that facilitate decision-making, interaction with workers, communication and improved productivity have become the focus for the applications development circle. Tools that were used for social networking such as blogs, wikis, MySpace and video streams are also being adopted by organizations to ease business functions and communication processes. These tools have proved to be valuable in terms of return on investments as they cut down operational, maintenance and support costs. For these reasons, the researcher feels that business consumers will find more opportunities to exploit Web 2.0 in the future. As businesses evolve, they will turn to the Web to enhance business presence as well as generate new customers.

Given these aspects, the researcher is of the view that if organizational functions and information systems evolve, so will Web 2.0 applications development. RWAs in this context will become the tools for niche services for future organizations.

Having said that, the researcher has also come across information, which implies there is too much risk of relying too much on Web services and RWAs for business functions. Although, only a few experts (Flora 2007; Jennings 2007) have noted the limitations of RWAs, nevertheless its existence needs considerations. Issues such as control over contents, risk of hacks, monitoring abusive users, conflict of interests and lack of integrity are some instances that need evaluation before organizations adopt RWAs and Web service for their business purpose.

Apart from these, the researcher is also concerned about the limitations of vendor technological development. The literature review indicates that vendors follow technological demands thereby largely depend on organizations to realize their needs and communicate them to third party developers before applications are created to meet these requirements. This poses several problems. Firstly, applications usually take time to develop. If application development lags behind business trend then it would become redundant when applications come into the market. Secondly, unlike traditional software applications, RWAs and Web service do not require updates or become out of date. Instead, they are regularly improved as users use them. Consequently, waiting for a launch or to "float" the software would not serve the purpose. Lastly, the current state of RIA and RWA development is still based on SOA and SaaS, with vendors tentatively designing them for business users. The majority of the applications are designed for the general users. This means there are considerable opportunities for RWA business environment to set in before another wave of change takes place and replace it.


Given the state of current Web 2.0 environment, the researcher recommends the following strategies for developers and RWA adopters:

1. Vendors should evaluate the current business needs and anticipate future needs to endeavour in developing software applications. Although, the current tools such as Ajax, URI and SOA form the frameworks for developing easy-to-use RWAs, new tools and frameworks should be explored to ease RWA development even more so that developers can concentrate on strategies for harnessing opportunities in existing organization and individual users. Strategies for exploiting niche RWAs markets of various industry sectors could open new doors of opportunities for different type of RWAs. For example banking organizations would require different set of RWAs as compared to advertising agencies.

2. Alternatively, organizations should explore the potential of RWAs not only in business functions but consider aspects like strategic management, communication framework, trade partners, and value chain as areas for adopting RWAs to improve productivity and performance. Since RWAs are becoming more flexible as discussed in the literature review, more opportunities exist for the adopter to mould it according to their business needs. Within this domain, there are a lot of opportunities for RWA developers to explore that may or may not be limited to Web 2.0.

3. Web 2.0 tools, unlike traditional Web 1.0 tools, is non-specific in terms of development technology. Consequently, organizations can easily adopt them using OSS to explore the best RWAs for their individual needs. This would not only facilitate tailor-made RWAs to suit organizational needs but also reduce technological costs implied by adopting new software applications. There is a need for formalized marketing and promotional strategies by vendors and developers alike, to create awareness of the potential of RWA as business resource rather than treating it as "just another tool" in the market. Formal training of management decision-makers, awareness building campaigns and education in Web 2.0 concepts and RWAs would help improve the current end-users' view.

4. Vendors need to combine efforts to form coalition to form standards and quality of service (QoS) in techniques and processes for development of RWAs and similar Web 2.0 tools. The objective is to develop standards for RWAs, which up until now have been considered to be a third party phenomenon and would phase out soon. Adding integrity to the advantages of RWAs would encourage users to explore and exploit its potential.

5. Lastly, the researcher realizes the above study is pervasive and covers only briefly on RWA aspect of Web 2.0 whereas the topic is vast. Future researchers may find interesting issues to explore such as security issues, monitoring techniques as well as new technologies and adopters of Web 2.0.

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