When mobile drives service-oriented inititiatives

Target IT executives describe the challenges of building consistency into in-store, mobile, and customer call center interfaces.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

The push to enhance mobile engagement with consumers is also pushing the drive to develop reusable service layers within organizations with legacy systems.

That's one of the takeaways from a keynote presentation at the IBM Impact conference taking place this week. IT executives from Target provided details on how they have been employing service-oriented architecture techniques to bring together the store chain's various customer engagement channels.

To keep up with customer demands for mobile capabilities, "Target needed to unlock our core technology assets," said Kim Skanson, senior director of enterprise architecture for Target. "We cannot simply tear them down while we're running critical business functions. This is what led Target down the path to unlock our core functionality via reusable services. By unlocking core functionality, mobile demands are much faster met."

Target's challenge was to simplify multiple point-to-point connections between systems and customer channels, added Keith Tanski, director of enterprise architecture at Target. The store chain's challenge to provide product attributes consistently across all its channels. "We put in place reusable services. A large part of our business processing runs on the mainframe. One of the ways we exposed that platform was through IBM MessageBroker. By providing the basic building blocks upfront, we can meet fast-moving requirements across the various channels." This includes enhanced mobile-based services for customers that access Target's back-end systems.

Skanson shared Target's lessons for reusable services:

  • Seek progress over perfection: "This path is beyond intimidating, but you need to start the journey, and trust that even small steps forward are progress," she said.

  • Build for resiliency: "Inevitably, increased reusability creates increased need for uptime."

  • Communicate early and often.

Disclosure: IBM is helping to cover Joe McKendrick's expenses to attend Impact.

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