Why the Business Side Loves SOA

Loraine Lawson

It's interesting to read how SOA is affecting IT organizations and businesses in unexpected ways.


For instance, a recent SoftwareAG study found that, thanks in large part to SOA, organizations are opting to build onto legacy systems in lieu of investing in new technologies, according to this ARNnet article.


This seems to be part of a more general business shift away from buying new technology to solve problems (the more IT-centric outlook) to a more business-minded focus on cost savings, access to existing data and creating an agile IT infrastructure (or what my mother might call "making do with what you already have").


In other words, it sounds like business is pretty fed up with trying to buy new technology to fix problems and now wants to see that technology put to use. And SOA is their great hope for making that happen.


That also seems to me to be the underlying message in survey results released by IBM. The survey queried a sampling of a customers at IBM Impact 2007 which, of course, was IBM's first worldwide SOA conference.


The survey, conducted by Link Group, revealed that the business side, not IT, are the primary movers and shakers when it comes to embracing SOA. According to a press release issued by IBM today:

The survey also revealed that 67 percent of the respondents said the key decision makers responsible for moving to an SOA strategy are business leaders including C-level executives and business managers. Additionally, 65 percent of clients said that business leaders are also primarily responsible for selecting an IT partner to help achieve business goals in an SOA.

Could this mean that SOA will become a strategic differentiator? Robert LeBlanc, general manager Business Consulting Services and SOA, IBM, seems to think so.


"Business leaders not engaged in the SOA decision making process will soon find themselves at a competitive disadvantage," the release quotes LeBlanc as saying. "With its focus on optimizing and automating specific business processes and eliminating redundant ones, it is business leaders that will drive the adoption of SOA from early stages to enterprise wide adoption."


But while the mind is willing, the skilled labor pool is weak.


The IBM survey revealed that respondents are unable to find people with the skills to implement SOA. In fact, half the respondents reported having less than 25 percent of the required SOA skills to meet their company's long-term goals.


To fill that gap, 80 percent of those surveyed said they'll increase SOA skills in their company this year. How? Most - approximately 60 percent - will retrain existing staff.

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