Over the last two years, I've become increasingly interested in the move of the web to more local applications. I don't mean geotargeted either, I mean really local, just like the local newspaper or tv station. I see it as a way to build a web business that has a sustainable competitive advantage because of the self-reinforcing position of social and business networks that have both online and offline components. So when I read Nick Carr's post on "multitenancy," I naturally saw it through the filter of local web.
Several years ago, when I owned a franchise, the accounting systems were all hosted by the franchisor, and many franchisees worried about data breaches that would allow their peers to see their numbers. But I think Nick Carr has it right. When you host multiple clients on a shared infrastructure that have similar types of data, in many instances it could be beneficial to aggregate and/or share some parts of that data with each client.
There is a networking organization called BNI. If you have never been to a meeting, it basically consists of business representatives who share leads. Each chapter can only have one member in a specific industry – one realtor, one attorney, one accountant, etc. They cross promote. If you could somehow get this to happen on a larger scale, but with local people, there would be a lot of value in that. Starting with some sort of shared platform that encouraged business owners to enter customer data would be a good place to start.