Here's a cool piece of technology from a company called Kapow -- it allows you to integrate different data sources and applications using only Internet protocols. This is effectively a way of combining the new web applications being labeled Web 2.0 with existing enterprise applications.
Basically, with Kapow you can create a web site that aggregates bits of functionality from multiple third-party sites, or you can populate an Intranet or Portal project with application functions from different parts of the enterprise. And you can do it through an entirely visual interface, ie you just browse onto the sites you want to "clip" and select the data sources or fields you want to drag into your own portal. For example, UK betting-odds website Betbrain offers to its punters odds from virtually all betting agents without having any direct data integration links -- just collecting nearly real-time data via Kapow.
The way it works is that Kapow's platform allows you to build "robots" which are like your own personal, intelligent web crawlers. Robots visit the web sites (or web interfaces on applications) you specify, can fill in forms (such as log-ins), enter queries, retrieve data, and bring it back to home, either to put into a database or directly into a web portal. Kapow automatically maintains this connection even as data sources move or the target websites change their format.
For online businesses this is a way to automate a lot of screen-scraping and data conversion. For enterprises with many legacy applications, Kapow can provide front-end integration without the need for a big, expensive EAI project. Gartner recently cottoned on to this and named Kapow among its "cool vendors" in Application Integration. InfoWorld also recently published a product review.
Lately all the talk about next-generation web applications has been focused on Ajax developments and RSS/XML feeds, which have driven a huge increase in the number of people effectively developing for the Web. What is needed now are enterprise-grade development tools and middleware to pull these Web 2.0 apps together and to combine them with existing applications. Once we have enterprise-class platforms and tools, viable revenue models -- perhaps combining traditional licence fees with transaction fees for useage -- will emerge.