The previous post and the post before that addressed the first 3 business implications of SOA. Let’s discuss the other two major business implications of SOA. First, with SOA it becomes important to understand the distinction between “enabling” and “actualizing” a business process. Actualizing a business process embeds IT automation elements such as workflow into the process. With actualization, the relationship between a business process and its supporting software shifts from passive to active. If the old paradigm of business requirements being “thrown over a wall” to IT, with business solutions “thrown back over the wall” was ever appropriate, it certainly is in no way feasible as business processes and IT automation converge in the SOA world. This byproduct of SOA means that a far more holistic approach to design must be taken, one that is driven first and foremost from the perspective of the total customer experience.
This also has significant implications for both business and IT operating models. For example, the customer experience, business process and software become so intertwined that they can no longer be effectively designed in silos – customer experience design, business process design and systems design become one integrated process. Designing services that can be shared across business processes versus those that are truly unique becomes a key skill and an important discipline, if SOA is to payoff over the long haul. This also means that the traditional roles associated with “providing requirements” and “gathering requirements” become diffused, and no longer work as a clean business-IT-business hand-off.
Now, add to this mix the notion of external services being provided from outside the corporate firewall – the complications for performance monitoring become significantly more complex than in an internal services only environment. All this has significant implications for the future role of the IT professional, and the organizational relationships between business and IT. These are the kinds of forces that are shaping IT circa 2017.