Todd Biske recently responded to my post about Microsoft's recommended approach to SOA (inch by inch, it's a cinch; mile by mile, its a trial), and ponders whether some organizations can get SOA right away, but others will never get it.
How do organizations end up with their IT out of synch with business requirements? Todd speculates that chances are, organizations "were already that way to begin with." For example, he reports, he had the opportunity to talk with a tech-savvy VP of operations of one company, who obviously knew what the business needed in terms of new technology. "There wasn’t any discussion about top-down or bottom-up. Having a plan for where the business needed to go was part of his job, not something that needed to be justified. He knew what could be taken on and where IT fit into the picture, and was able to successfully leverage it."
At the opposite extreme are enterprises without clear strategic planning about their IT direction. However, don't blame the IT managers -- "the lack of IT alignment may just be a symptom of poor alignment throughout the organization."
"Organizations like that are going to struggle to accomplish anything of a strategic nature, SOA and BPM just being recent examples. While there may be some room for some incremental success, there are bigger problems that exist preventing it. In short, while SOA is touted as some as the tool which will increase IT and business alignment, so far, it’s only the enterprises that already had great IT and business alignment that are truly leveraging it successfully."
Tom Rose added these thoughts to Todd's post:
"SOA will have a much lower initial cost if the organization is already functioning well in both IT and business operations. They already have the stock IT best practices in place with regard to technology and governance. SOA is just the next step, and not the huge step it might be for the vast majority of companies. So perhaps for these organizations there is no need for the mega-project to get the numbers to look attractive."
It's a paradox I've discussed occasionally at this blogsite -- the companies that really could benefit from SOA are the least likely to be implementing SOA. But even the most forward-thinking organizations need someone to champion the service-oriented architecture approach.