Service Oriented Enterprise

Yesterday, I sat in on the SOA Consortium conference call where this is the main theme. The moderator took it in stride and started down the path of business and I.T. Never to be dissuaded the moderator went down the BPM path. Once again, the participants back pushed. The group commented that, “talking SOA is too abstract for the business” and there was a “need to discuss business-specific functionality is just higher level Agility, and Change”.

After participating in this call, I stumbled on to Joe 2.0’s post on the same topic! Even funnier was that he was quoting Jean-Jacques Dubray (JJ), who I put a 3-hour telephone call with about them just days earlier. Dubray says SOA is a “pure IT problem.” However in this era of the online collaborative organization, when we rely on technology for every facet of our business, are there really any “100 % pure IT” problems?

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IMHO, the answer is, “yes, some problems are just I.T. problems”. Sure, I.T. problems, like HR or garbage collection, may bubble their way up to become a business problem, but by the end of the day I.T. When the janitor accumulates the trash in my own office, they take action in the most efficient way they understand how.

They don’t ask ‘the business’ if they should do it efficiently – they just take action. When did I.T. become such wussies? Love it. Customer Loyalty? Think it’s great. New Product Introduction? Love it. Having said that, I really believe it’s I.T.’s responsibility to bring technology solutions forward. Most business people understand things like forms, window, graphs, reports, etc. They understand visible deliverables (not invisible deliverables like WSDL’s). I think that’s the reason we’re seeing the most successful SOA shared service centers implementing capabilities around Rich Composite Applications, Mashups, and other edge-of-the-enterprise development features. They build relationships with the business about business problems and then use mashups and other techniques to quickly demo/prototype/build solutions that their users can relate to.

If you are considering inspiration on this process, I’m happy to recommend a book about them, Mashup Corporations. The authors execute a great job of walking the visitors through an imaginary company. As business problems are coming across, they introduce Blogging platforms 2.0 and mashup solutions. Prototypes are placed together and the principles are examined out. SOA is discussed as the ‘efficient way’ to make it work. Again, they didn’t talk to the business about SOA (or even services)!

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