12 December 2007

It was about SOA all along!

I was recently introduced to Andy Mulholland by a mutual friend. After reading some recent articles on his blog I quickly realized I had to read his latest book about Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) titled: “Mashup Corporations. The End of Business as Usual”. I ordered it on the famous mashup-rich website Amazon and started reading it yesterday. After only reading up to the end of the Introduction chapter, it suddenly stroke me: All my thoughts and ideas that initiated the articles on this blog since its creation in 2005 were calling for, relating to or assuming SOA! And the most amazing is that I never even mentioned SOA.

My understanding of SOA was that it was a modern method to organize the IT infrastructure for a more flexible applications delivery. So, I had the technologist view (sorry but I’m an IT guy after all) and was missing completely the point. SOA is not just about delivering services and the IT infrastructure, it is first about the adoption of new business models and a conducive corporate culture. Business models! Corporate culture! To those of you who have been in touch with my blog for a while, aren’t these recurring topics in my writings? Oh boy, how this realization got me excited!

So, I decided that I will keep posting about my reading of Andy’s book, and how it will surely make my understanding of the leveraging of organizational knowledge evolve to another level.

I will stick here to this enlightening Introduction.

It gives “five kinds of relationships upon which SOA will make the most impact” and the associated questions it will attempt to answer are:
<< How can you harness the ideas and energy of [innovators] eager to help [from inside or outside the company]?
How can you bring your customers closer to your core business processes?
How can you create a win-win relationship with your suppliers instead of an adversarial one?
How can [IT enable] innovation to break new ground while protecting critical data?
How can you best structure your IT resources to reflect the needs and new capabilities of SOA?


The virtuous process of Human Capital Formation is concerned with the first question. My article on this process was focusing on the employees, but it could be adapted to cater for the contribution of people outside the company (I might do this when I have time).
The second question relates to one of the most important concept I have written about on my blog: Organize the whole company around the customer-facing functions in order to be closer to the customers and therefore satisfy them better. See “knowledge-driven not simply customer-driven”, and “becoming a knowledge-driven organization in response to more knowledgeable customers in the luxury market” and also a more specific case “knowledge-sharing for a Retail Manager”.

The third question is about the collaborative playing field of the Knowledge Economy where companies must collaborate with in fact not only their suppliers and customers, but even increasingly with their competitors.

I will leave the last two questions more concerned with the company’s IT function/department for now. Of course, with my experience there is a lot I could say about it, but this blog was initially avoiding this subject and no doubt I will be drawn into it in later chapters.

Let's read on...


At 1:17 AM, Anonymous Awie said...

Hi Peter

Nice review I'll probably follow your book review than to read the book for the time being.

I have a question about using web 2.0 for my team of researcher, and hopefully it'll than grow to the entire office. There's virtually no sharing of knowledge in my current team; people do talk to one another but when it comes to finding useful information or searching for the things that we have done before... no one seems to know who knows what or what we have experienced... The project filing system is difficult to navigate because the works are not tagged.

I am hoping that using blogs or wikis might help to put us on the right track of KM. At least with my team everyone is generous with their time and willing to help. My question is: Can you recommend the first few steps that I should take, and possibly some free software that may help us organize our stuffs better?

Many thanks,

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Peter-Anthony Glick said...

Hello Awie, thanks for the compliment but it is not my intention to replace the reading of the book!
Quite the opposite of course as there’s so much more insights, concepts and SOA examples in the book. After reading my review I expect people to find SOA interesting, but after reading the book you must find it unavoidable.
Now to answer your question. The key point I pick up from your situation is that “everyone is generous with their time and willing to help”. Awie, that is to me already half the battle won!
I sense a culture inherently conducive to K-sharing (at least in your team but it must indicates an environment where such team can exist) but where required processes and tools are not adapted or non-existent. The first think I would do is to gather your entire team (make sure everyone is present) in a meeting room for a bit of brainstorming. Consider that each of you is a knowledge customer of all the others. Then ask each one to answer these 2 simple questions: “In an ideal world, what would you expect to be able to do when you need access to K held by the team today, or produced in the past (by someone who left for ex.)?”, followed by “How important is this access to K for you?” The likelihood is that their answers will be very similar and somewhat commonsense. However, the point of this exercise is to involve everyone and make it clear that it is a common issue that must be resolved collectively. Next step must focus on defining new processes for the provision of K. No point implementing a Wiki if you are not clear when and with what it will be filled. The searching will be the easy part but decide when each of you would enter information in the tool (ex: each time a doc is completed, or at the end of a project phase, or when a problem is solved, etc…). Then you should discuss the what (ex: links to docs in your project filing system).
As for what wiki to use, a recent ActKM thread mentioned a few for a research team, I will email suggestions to you.


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