'Only' 37 percent see positive SOA results? Not too shabby, but not enough

Is the SOA glass half full or half empty? It depends on who you ask.

Is the SOA glass half full or half empty? It depends on who you ask.

Nucleus Research just released some results of a new survey, based on a new survey of 106 companies, that 'only' 37 percent of companies have achieved a positive return on investment for their SOA efforts, and that 'only' one in four developers even use SOA methodologies.

Proof positive, they say, that SOA is more hype than substance. (I can't argue with that point.) As the analysts told InfoWorld, "[SOA is] pretty far along the hype curve, and is now suffering some backlash... The findings are that generally, people are not getting a large amount of return on investment on SOA... Only a minority of companies are getting a return on investment on SOA."

Frankly, I'm surprised... that the results are that high. About 37 percent -- more than a third of companies -- seeing positive ROI from SOA doesn't seem too shabby, in my humble opinion. Remember, most companies are just starting to learn and implement SOA methodologies. Most don't have key performance indicators that link SOA activities to business metrics. How many other types of corporate ventures have seen results like that while still just out of the starting gate?

The study does nail it, however, with the observation that "despite most of the big players' aggressive marketing efforts, SOA adoption today is at best departmental and, at worst, limited to just using standards on specific projects."

A very interesting finding is that companies using SOA did experience an improvement in developer productivity by an average of 28 percent. "However, the productivity savings do not warrant broad SOA deployment," the study noted.

Uh oh.... So far, developer productivity is the only real tangible metric most SOA efforts have been able to demonstrate -- it's the most easy to capture, and the metric most obviously tied to an SOA effort. This may be where those 37 percent are getting their positive ROI.

But the promise of developer productivity boosts is not enough to get the business all excited about SOA. Enterprise-wide support for SOA hinges on the ability to demonstrate value to the business at large -- more growth, revenue opportunities, and all that good stuff. These are still uncharted waters.