I've just read a Gartner research note by Massimo Pezzini published on the 16 November. It's titled Greater Business Process Insight Is an Unexpected Benefit of SOA. It argues that an unexpected and unplanned consequence of SOA projects is that organisations gain better visibility of their business processes and business data. It recommends that organisations think and plan about things like Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) from the outset.
I was surprised by this and also disappointed. Not because I don't agree that better business visibility is a consequence of SOA – it is. What surprises me is that this is still seen as noteworthy. It shows how far the industry still has to go toward understanding the merits of enterprise architectures which give them more open, simpler, more flexible access to real-time business information. Sservice-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is about service reuse, open standards, etc. etc. But you're doing this for a reason, not for its own sake. Surely one of the benefits of a more open, flexible architecture is that you can get at your business information better so you can drive efficiencies in your processes, identify threats and opportunities more quickly, and better communicate with customers, etc?
Some organisations do recognize this. Only last week we responded to an RFI which not only included "usual suspect" SOA requirements satisfied by such things as an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), but also requirements for event processing and BAM. The organisation recognized that the building of a SOA infrastructure gives them access to business event streams that they can obtain value from immediately. They had indeed expected this consequence and were planning for it.
SOA What? These kinds of requirements will become the norm. Real-time access to enterprise information is becoming more relevant in a whole range of industries – we're seeing this directly in some of the engagements we're involved in. Furthermore, event processing and BAM are at the more business end of the SOA universe. One of the things that the industry harps on about is that the business rarely sees the relevance of a SOA initiative. By taking the advice of the article and thinking about these things apriori then perhaps not only can organisations get more out of their initiatives but also CIOs can gain a little more credit from the wider organisation.
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