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What's Your SOA "Elevator Pitch?"

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You're the CIO of a Fortune 500 company and you step into an elevator with your CEO. He asks why we should approve your seven figure SOA budget request. So what's your "elevator pitch" for SOA? Make it short and to the point -- the elevator is already rising fast.

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  • "SOA is the centerpiece of our IT strategy in direct alignment with the board of director mandated enterprise-level risk management initiative that ensures IT continuity, resilience, compliance with regulatory requirements such as SOX, asset protection, and minimization of negative financial exposure."

    BTW, I timed my response to 25 seconds :).

  • 14th floor, please... Thanks. Hey, with that new acquisition of Acme Widgets, there's a risk that we will need to function as two separate businesses for a long time. They have these crappy and outdated ERP systems. It will take a long time and a lot of money to consolidate and bring all the systems together. If we adopt SOA practices, we can cut the integration time significantly, without tearing everything to pieces. Plus, we'll have the agility to quickly act on all future acquisitions or changes in the business. We'll have all these adaptable services, almost as part of our own secure cloud.

    (Ding) Okay, see you later. Lunch sometime??

  • From Chris Curran via Twitter (@cbcurran): Never discuss "SOA" with a CEO!

  • From Henrik L Sørensen (@hlsdk): Most Copenhagen buildings are not 14 floors high.

  • This is IT's biggest failure. SOA should not be pitched to the Board or the CEO at the beginning. It should start from the development team or from IT departments and work the way up. Show how you have saved money by adopting SOA practices for a department and then go to the CEO/Board.

  • Our markets are changing, our competitors are fierce, and we don't have the flexibility to adapt quickly to new business strategies. We want to be an engine for the company rather than an anchor, and we need this funding to get there. (Extend arms to accept briefcase full of cash.)

    http://soacoach.blogspot.com

  • Shoot oneself in the foot!!! - The best way to put it...

  • Okay, we have a bunch of humorists on the boards today, cool, I dig sarcasm, but since there's so much already, I guess I'll have to go straight (thanks for stealing my thunder guys!)

    Truth is that the CEO may or may not have peripheral knowledge of SOA, but if it's an important initiative that the CIO is leading, they would certainly see a proposal. So, let's assume the dude (or dudette) is busy and will read the proposal on the plane tonight as they travel the country, but wanted some straight-talk from the person heading the effort while they had a moment with them. Clearly, the way to read this if you're the CIO is, "CEO has proposal, but is looking to me to help provide confidence that this is the right move at this time."

    To wit you, as CIO should respond, "Look Jim, I realize my 75-page proposal is probably a bit daunting, so let me say this. You know how you're always requesting that my organization be able to support all those cool initiatives that marketing and product is dreaming up? And I respond that we can't because we're weighed down by all the existing baggage? Well, this effort allows us to incrementally transform that existing baggage into an infrastructure that will allow me to respond much more quickly to your requests in the future. There are no silver bullets that are going to fix this problem for you Jim, it's going to take hard work and some investment, but I guarantee you when we're done, we'll be well aligned with the goals of this business."

  • Great answer JP! Clearly focusing on the outcome of better support for marketing and product initiatives will resonate on "mahogany row".

  • ROI, ROI and ROI. Essentially agreeing with JP's theme, I would say to the CEO, "let's focus on the expected results". My proposal will result in being able to deliver the following critical business projects on time and under budget. Then briefly describe these projects and their expected business benefits, i.e. the delivery of the new customer on-line ordering system, the merger of the two back-end financial systems from the recent M&A that will enable SOX compliance, the delivery of new mobile customer care services before your major competitor, etc.

    Focus on the "What", not the "how". SOA happens to be the "how" but the CEO just wants the bottom line.

  • Did you know that your IT guys just reprogrammed this elevator? Looks like we'll be stuck here for a while. Let me tell you about agility and loose coupling...

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    JP - I just don't get that pitch. On the one hand you say that this isn't a silver bullet and on the other you seem to be promising exactly that.

    I think CIO's that are pitching SOA without concrete examples of ROI within their organization are doomed to fail. You're saying, we'll invest all this money on a non-proven strategy, just have faith in me.

    IMO, showing not telling is the correct way to pitch SOA within your organization.

  • Ricardo, read my 75-page proposal. Or maybe I should walk around with my laptop and do a powerpoint in the elevator?

  • I'd point him to our 10-figure revenue line that we bring in through transactions with partners and say, "25% of that revenue already flows through our new SOA-based applications and, within 2 years, it'll be 100%... and they'll be done more cheaply and more flexibly as we adjust our strategy to adapt to the changing market."

    (Hint: CEO's love revenue.)

  • "In the short term, moving to SOA will benefit our IT organization by improving productivity, reducing duplicate efforts and ensuring better interoperability among different systems and business units.
    In the long-term, the benefits will be in better streamlining business processes and shortening time to market. But most importantly, through SOA governance we will gain better visibility and control to align business with technology."

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    JP - Not a bad idea... probably the only way it's going to get read :-D

    You're either in a organization that has no experience with SOA - In which case your pitch and proposal amount to... buy me the shiny new toy, I promise it will fix all our problems...

    Or you're in an organization with a couple of SOA wins under the belt - In which case your pitch should highlight those wins... Jim remember project X and project Y were we achived a ROI of 6 months and met marketing's expectations, well I want to move the whole organization to that same technology so that we'll be well aligned with the goals of this business in every situation.

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