I was reading Max Pucher's interesting rant about SOA and it reminded me of one of my own personal experiences with business agility. I was flying back to San Francisco from Germany and had to go through customs and change planes in New York. Well, there was a snowstorm and all flights to San Francisco were cancelled and they decided to rebook me for the next day. Having been away for almost two weeks, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in an airport hotel for another day, so I looked at the board and realized that there was still one flight to San Jose (a 45 minute drive from San Francisco) that was still on schedule.
I asked the agent to switch me to that flight. She said "no," unfortunately she couldn't because my e-ticket didn't make that possible. I gave her my I've-been-flying-for-8-hours puppy dog eyes and asked her if there was any way she could help. She said "hold on a minute" and started typing away. After a few minutes of this, she produced a boarding pass to San Jose. I smiled and asked her how she did it...
It turned out that because this was the early days of e-tickets, they had no way to reroute an e-ticketed passenger (even due to weather problems) - it just wasn't coded into the e-ticket business process logic. So, what she did for me was convert me to a paper ticket. Simple! With a paper ticket, the only record of my route was on the paper itself and the "business process" around the paper ticket was entirely driven by the agents themselves -- so once she had done this conversion she could easily print a different paper ticket that had the new routing.
SOA What? The moral of the story is that you shouldn't confuse efficiency with agility. The e-ticket process (like a lot of processes built on BPM platforms) was efficient, but it wasn't agile. Humans will always be more agile than automated processes -- make sure that your SOA processes allow them to do what they do best.
View all posts from dan foody on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.
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