Could lack of SOA open a company to lawsuits?

Enterprises with inflexible IT architectures 'could find themselves explaining their enterprise architecture issues during depositions, not at technology conferences'

Could lack of SOA drive shareholder lawsuits?

That's the specter Dave Linthicum raised in a recent post, observing that there's precedent and motivation for such actions: "The failure of many major corporations a few years ago, which drove a bunch of new compliance laws and shareholder lawsuits, could also be leading to the reality that shareholders are looking at enterprise architecture efficiencies, along with accounting and reporting practices."

Those with inflexible IT architectures 'could find themselves explaining their enterprise architecture at depositions -- not technology conferences'

Dave speculates that we may start to see some shareholder litigation in this regard starting in 2008. Why should shareholders care, let alone even understand, what SOA is? As Dave puts it, "Many major public companies don't have efficient enterprise architectures, and thus the business is unable to adapt to new market opportunities, reuse key IT assets, and thus not provide the maximum return to shareholders. Therefore shareholders have a large stake in existing enterprise architectures."

Dave adds that the penalty for lack of service orientation could directly impact bottom lines and share prices -- IT architectures "that are still static and inflexible, due to a lack of proper strategic planning and use of technology (e.g., SOA), could find themselves explaining their enterprise architecture issues during depositions, not at technology conferences."

A couple of thoughts on this: The link between SOA and business growth and agility -- while bursting with possibilities -- has not been firmly established or proven in the mainstream. Even the sharpest lawyers with an understanding of SOA may be hard-pressed to build a case on how a lack of SOA is driving down shareholder value.

Plus, there are plenty of businesses that stay in business and thrive in spite of themselves -- miserable management, clunky systems, wretched customer service. Where to begin with a lawsuit? The market may catch up to them, but if they have a valuable commodity to offer, they somehow stay on course.

If we do see actions, they may be more glaring grievances, rather than pinpointing SOA. For example, shareholders may hold companies' feet to the fire if the company is relying too much on outmoded technology and processes, has major security lapses, or fails to effectively streamline these processes, or does not take enough steps to integrate well with business partners as its competitors. All can be addressed, at least in part, by adopting SOA methodologies, but SOA may not be mentioned outright.

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