An article written by Joe McKendrick called SOA eased the way for recent shotgun financial mergers inspired me to take this discussion one step further. To me, the biggest benefit of SOA done right is agility. I define agility in IT as the ability to adapt to change at the speed of business. Companies that invest in architecture, specifically in SOA, are in a much better position to adapt to mergers and acquisitions, connect to partners and suppliers, take on new business opportunities, and continually drive down the costs of maintenance and support.
I read many blogs and subscribe to numerous group discussions on SOA, EA, and cloud computing. There is so much discussion arguing the semantics, the ROI, and the viability of these technologies/architectures that it sometimes becomes discouraging. At some point we need to hike up our boot straps and invest in our business’s future and stop fire fighting. Those companies that invest now (and do it right) will create a competitive advantage over those that do not. Here are just a few of the harsh realities that our businesses are faced with:
â€¢ Decreasing margins
â€¢ Fierce global competition
â€¢ Mergers/ Acquisitions/ Consolidations
â€¢ Demanding, connected, and empowered consumers
â€¢ Increased regulatory constraints
â€¢ Dynamic business requirements
â€¢ Green initiatives
All of these things mentioned above are issues that we must deal with on top of our company specific issues and requirements that are far exceeding our capacity. To keep up with demand we need a flexible and agile architecture so we can make configuration changes instead of code changes, empower business users to change business rules instead of requesting expensive development projects, and leverage partner and supplier services instead of building everything from scratch, thus reinventing the wheel.
IT is only a cost center if the IT leadership allows it to be. The role of IT should be to innovate and help the business achieve its goals. IT must invest in strategies and architecture to allow this to happen. It is too easy to say we don’t have the time, resources, and money. That’s a cop out. As I have said before in my article The keeping the lights on mentality
So IT leaders have a choice. They can refuse to invest in SOA and continue to support and maintain an inflexible environment that takes a lot of time and money to change or they can invest in the future by justifying an initiative to provide the business with flexibility, agility, and empowerment. Is it easy to do? Heck no! It requires talented staff and partners and most of all top level support. Ask yourself this question. If your company was to merge with your number one competitor tomorrow, how long do you think it would take to integrate these systems? If your competitor was buying your company and your systems were archaic and hard to integrate with, what do you think the odds are that they would keep you around? That’s what I thought! Pay now or pay for it forever.
About the Author:
Mike Kavis is a veteran Chief Architect with over 23 years of IT experience including distributed computing, SOA, BPM, data warehouse, business intelligence, and enterprise architecture. Read Mike’s blog at Enterprise Initiatives.