Which comes first -- SOA or success?

Accenture finds more SOAs in successful places.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

The SOA chicken-or-egg question surfaces again in new survey results out of Accenture. The global consulting firm found that the businesses that are performing the best are also the ones more likely to be embracing SOA. More than a third of "high-performing" companies had adopted SOA, compared with just 14% of their less successful counterparts, the study of more than 750 executives from 317 companies found.

As I've mentioned before on this blogsite, there's a paradox around SOA. The firms that don't need SOA will be the ones adopting it in far greater numbers than the ones that really need it badly.

Is that group of high achievers identified by Accenture doing so well because of SOA? To some extent, yes. But these forward-thinking organizations probably have a corporate culture that is open to innovation and new ideas. These organizations are probably far more likely to support a customer-driven culture, and progressive employee compensation plans.

I just posted a piece on Wachovia's awesome, all-encompassing SOA effort. Wachovia happens to be a very driven financial services firm with a lot of other initiatives -- smart marketing, lots of employee training, and well-tuned product strategies -- that make it successful. The bank probably could make it -- perhaps a bit more slowly -- with less agile, stovepiped systems if it wanted to.

A slow-moving, hidebound organization with rigid computer systems and leftover manual processes -- and a paranoid CYA management -- will not be likely to support an SOA effort. Unless it enabled integration on the cheap.

But SOA is not a shortcut. To make SOA work, the ComputerWeekly article said, the successful firms had had to commit to "major business change as well as IT change," with 69% saying they had taken “a hard look at their business processes to make sure they fit with enterprise systems.”

Accenture itself has a dog in this fight -- last month, the consultancy announced it was pouring $450 million into various SOA-based development efforts.

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