Only a light touch will make the most of service orientation
Published 12:05, 26 January 09
The propaganda seems to suggest that service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a way of integrating all processes and solving all business problems.
Such thinking is not only unrealistic, it’s dangerous: IT managers must stop thinking of SOA as a golden bullet.
SOA can have a tremendous impact on business technology, but only if service-orientation is approached with a lighter touch that puts end-user priorities at the heart of IT decision-making.
Don’t think you can walk in to the finance director’s (FD) office and demand money for an SOA project. First, economic uncertainty equals constrained IT budgets.
Second, your FD is a businessman, not a technologist. The last think he or she wants to be confronted with is yet another series of TLAs (that’s ‘three letter acronyms’, for those not initiated with the art of techno-babble).
Return on investment has never been more important. So, find some facts and figures that prove SOA is not only worth the money, but that it will actually help your company make better use of existing assets.
It shouldn’t be too difficult. While SOA has traditionally been seen as innovative and leading edge, more and more firms across all sectors are beginning to look to the value created by service orientation.
Gartner recently found that 53 per cent of IT leaders are already using SOA in some part of their organisation. Another 25 per cent plan to invest in service orientation during the next 12 months
Previously slow-to-catch-on sectors, such as insurance, are now looking long and hard at SOA. But some industries – notably manufacturing, agriculture and mining - are still dawdling.
Gartner suggests the two major reasons for not pursuing SOA are a lack of skills and no viable business case. But a lighter touch that concentrates on key processes – notably shared services and governance processes – should help you develop an ROI and help you develop necessary in-house expertise.
Being careful isn’t necessarily wrong. In fact, it’s probably right – and watching how other firms have developed SOA will help you create a successful business case.
But as you move into SOA through 2009, make sure you investigate how your carefully layered service-oriented projects will actually solve specific business problems. Avoid the big bang approach and you’re sure to find success.