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17 December 2007

It was about SOA all along! Chapters 2 & 3

[cont. from previous post about my commented reading of Andy Mulholland’s book: “Mashup Corporations. The End of Business as Usual”].

After reading chapters 2 & 3, I realised that I should clarify something important. When I state that my writings on this blog were about SOA all along, I mean that SOA is probably the best value-adding, customer-facing, tangible web-based implementation (that I know) of a knowledge leveraging strategy. What I do not mean is that SOA is the only way to leverage organizational knowledge, nor do I mean that a company-wide change process to establish a knowledge sharing culture must incorporate some degree of SOA in order to be beneficial. Also, SOA is primarily concerned with online services on the Web but of course, not all transactions are online! Having said that, if the technological aspect of SOA might probably not apply in a meaningful sense to all businesses; its associated cultural implications should be relevant to all.

SOA first advantage [over most other knowledge leveraging initiatives] is to be directly concerned with increasing/generating sales and this should help catching the attention of CxOs.

In chapter 2, a fundamental principle of a SOA is explained: extending IT to the edges of the company. This does not only mean involving the customer-facing collaborators in the creation/evolution of the services to the customers, it means to involve outsiders as well. That is collaborators outside the firewall (to use a technical view) and not on the payroll (well, they could get paid but not with a salary). So, do get this straight: the suggestion is to enable outsiders to “add their own services that create new revenue stream”. The cultural change required to support this is to have your whole company at the service of the people at the edge: the front-line/client-facing collaborators and any trustworthy outsiders with an interest to grow your business (see my knowledge-driven and customer focused organization diagram )

From chapter 3, I will retain in particular the advantages of services (Web 2.0) over traditional Enterprise Applications, with the guiding principle of releasing control to communities of users. The importance of a legal framework also must be noted, in order to secure a service-enabled commercial environment that heavily involve outsiders.

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