It's always good to get some hard numbers around the results of a technology implementation, and such measurements are still extremely rare in the SOA space.
At last, there is a big tangible ROI story to tell.
ComputerWorld reports that Visa International has been quite effectively using Web services to automate its charge-dispute process, saving issuing banks up to $52million a year in direct operating costs, and $300 million in ancillary savings.
The Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EE)-based system, called Resolve Online, uses Web services to enable directcommunication between its back-end systems and those at member banksinvolved in the charge-dispute process. The article notes that prior to the implementation, "cardholder disputes had to be processed onpaper. Visa couldn't easily automate the process because of thediffering back-end systems and legacy specialized-functionality toolsin use throughout the industry."
Now, the article continues, "back-end systems at Visa and memberbanks now can communicate directly regarding requests for transactionresearch, dispute case search and retrieval, and requests for copies oforiginal paper receipts. Visa secures the inter-enterprise Web servicestransactions via Secure FTP sessions over SSL."
It took 150developers working concurrently for nine months to build the first iteration of this service, now in version five. The system was first put into production in mid 2002.
Throughout the history of EDI and Internet interactions, exceptions and disputes have always been cost-of-doing-business overhead. We'll never be able to fully automate such interactions, but as Visa shows, it can be made a lot smoother.