Forrester Research has come up with what we'd call the most interesting analysis of SOA's future that's yet to appear in print. In a new research paper, Forrester argues that the future of SOA lies in business process management (BPM). SOA makes BPM easier to execute, and BPM (with its obvious ROI potential) creates a reason for investing in SOA.
An association with BPM makes any technology more attractive. BPM's promises -- like cost and time savings as high as 70 percent -- are hard for companies to ignore. And the SOA/BPM connection makes sense. Both are based on the idea of creating processes out of building blocks that can be easily linked together and easily modified down the road (because you can modify the process one block at a time).
Unfortunately, there are historical problems that may get in the way of this perfect marriage. BPM advocates tend to be business managers, while SOA advocates tend to come from IT. The business types can't easily forget how rigid legacy systems have frustrated their process re-engineering attempts in the past, so they have a lingering mistrust of anything that comes from IT.
There's another human problem related to BPM: resistance to change. In most cases, little thought is given to the people who are left behind after BPM efficiencies have lowered the head count.