When you're holding a hammer in the air, everything begins to look like a nail. That's the essence of a smart new piece by Michael Liebow, Vice President of Web Services for IBM's Global Services Division. The hammer, this time, is SOA. But it's the prospective client (and, eventually, the failedvendor) that is in danger of getting nailed.
Theproblem is that there don't appear to be any business problems animating today's SOA conversations."I haven't met with a single customer that said their top business concern is their inability to create services out of applications," says Liebow. "What is missing in the conversation are real business problems customers need to solve today. Telco and wireless service providers worry about customer churn. Pharmaceuticals stay up nights trying to get new drugs that save lives to market faster. Airlines want to maximize capacity on flights. Retailers look to increase traffic in stories and maximize efficiencies in multi channel strategies. Hospitals want patient records kept up to date and available to doctors when needed during emergencies."
Hear, hear. "Solving real business problems is critical to helping customers transform to on demand businesses that can quickly respond to rapidly changing market environments," he adds. "An SOA can help do this by providing an industry standard framework that is interchangeable, adaptive and flexible, but most important it is closely linked to the business. The industry standards argument for nearly every other successful use of industry standards also applies to SOAs. Standards like IBM's service oriented modeling and architecture (SOMA) approach make it easier to do business and create efficiencies of scale."
He then goes on to point out how critical it is for companies to gain greatervisibility into their business processes. "Breaking the business down into component view -- from a discrete process or the business processes supporting the entire enterprise -- is critical to achieving business improvement and growth," he concludes. "Business process modeling will map out a companies' business processes and help determine which business processes provide strategic differentiation over competitors, what processes are core and what business processes may not be considered strategic....Nearly every business process in every company is linked to technology. Once the business process change or enhancement aimed at growth has been identified, the technology conversation can now begin."