Over the past few years, we have witnessed the emergence of a new trend that is ultimately driven out of the need for more consolidated access to data records, integration between disparate systems and the goal to provide users of systems with single access points that can share profile data across different service types.
As we as users move to aggregate our feeds and integrate our desktop experiences, the emergence of new services vying for attention simply means we have an inverse trend of fragmentation pulling us away from the hard work of getting everything aggregated.
I call this the "fragmentation of aggregation" which will most likely precede a phase of aggregating the fragmented tools, signs of which we have seen through increased usage of OAuth, single client apps that support multiple IM services and more, but these are the exception currently, not the norm.
Everyday I log into 15 or 20 interfaces all of which bear news for me to read. But I still read or source all of my news through Google and the Google reader. Yes I visit around 50 or so sites a day, but only as a result of the hard work done by my services to gather me relevant information and bring it to one of the few screens.
The challenge in this situation is setting the strategic goals of a new application or service with regards to its output, resource directory, login/account information and ultimately its share-ability. How do you determine which services to support? How do you know where your audience is clicking in from today? How do you manage the three screen experiences separately and effectively.
We are thinking about this on the enterprise level as well. Multiple apps with data storage, document storage, back-ups, online storage, and then multiple apps for reading and processing documents and the need for remote workers, secure access, timed access and more make for complex business process management that needs to serve multiple sources and multiple output points with varying degrees of controlled interaction.
In the web space we simply put the emphasis of choice on the end user, but in the enterprise we typically need to remove the burden of choice and systematically make selection based on rules. We need to find the user, observe the rules, investigate the request and then return the right stuff, and hopefully do all of this at the speed of 'Google'.
Do you have examples of the fragmentation of aggregation? Perhaps you would share where it is impacting you in a negative way, or even better, where you think someone or something is doing a great job of sorting all this out.
Update: Google Fast Flip launches providing yet another example: http://fastflip.googlelabs.com/