Focus on the cost saving and speed to market for new products and services to get the board listening when implementing service-oriented architectures, says Geoff Gudgion.
"Web services" and "service-oriented architecture" are the latest examples of our penchant for creating loosely defined labels for complex collections of standards or technologies.
However, they may make a slow impact on businesses because the software industry does not communicate their significance in ways the business can understand. We wrap ourselves in techno babble and then complain that IT does not have a voice in the boardroom.
So, if the software industry has a breakthrough which can transform businesses - and service-oriented architecture falls into that category - why should business leaders be interested in such a dry label?
Let us start with some strategic business drivers that service-oriented architecture supports. How about integrating front- and back-office processes? Perhaps think of seamless process integration both inside and outside the company? What about responsiveness and the ability to create systems that support rather than constrain the business?
Could this be dreamed up by suppliers to prop up flagging revenues? Many of the underlying factors of service-oriented architecture have been seen before but the emergence of standards means these principles now have widespread applicability.
Service-oriented architecture now enables a fundamental rethink in the way applications are created. They are rapidly becoming an established method of organising and managing web services.
Implementing an architecture does not mean a total overhaul of existing legacy systems. Service-oriented architecture refers to systems integration that rejuvenates legacy enterprise systems, integrating disparate applications and loosely coupled systems.
By integrating existing systems, companies will be able to get real value from an extremely low investment. In addition, businesses can wait for a natural upgrade position, rather than being forced to change to an entirely new system at a great cost.
So focus on service-oriented architecture in terms of business agility and speed to market for new products and services. Talk about enabling systems that adapt and evolve as rapidly and as robustly as businesses can demand in this turbulent time.
Then, having grabbed the attention of the leadership, be prepared to explain the technology, confident this is one return on investment calculation that might stack up.
What do you think?
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Geoff Gudgion is chief executive at enterprise application provider Quantiv
This was first published in March 2004