A conundrum frequently weighed at this blogsite and others over the years is the chicken-and-egg question of SOA: does good service-oriented architecture result from having a "service-oriented" focus and organization, or does SOA help lead to a more service-oriented organization?
I've long argued that while some businesses are in business in spite of themselves, and while they could benefit the most from SOA, they are the least likely to be implementing SOA. Service-oriented best practices usually do not spring out of companies with sloppy management practices.
In a recent post, Leo Peay put this argument into practical terms, saying that service oriented should mean service oriented. And customer relationship management is where service orientation begins and flourishes. That makes perfect sense, because a company can have the most elegant, smoothly running service-oriented information technology infrastructure ever seen, but if it doesn't know how to handle customers, it's all for naught. The Titanic, after all, probably had the most state-of-the-art engine room of its time, but that didn't seem to help things.
As Peay explains, a customer-focused IT operation will be tuned to the organization's customer interactions. This includes delivering information and metrics across contact points such as call centers, email services, Web sites, and social networking. As he explains it:
"Better IT organizations using the email example, can also tell you how many electronic mail messages come and go from all your top clients, how many messages get responses in a timely fashion, who those clients interact with most, and the subject matter of most of the messages. Making timely decisions and taking actions on this information is key."