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Business Ecology Initiative & Service-Oriented Solution

Michael Poulin

Thinking Service when Building Business

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Since Service Orientation concept and, correspondingly, SOA are getting through the process of washing out form the dust of buzz and technological obfuscation, the question remains - what practical benefits Service Orientation concept can bring to the providers and consumers?

From the very beginning, let's distinguish Service Orientation (SO) from the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). Service Orientation is a concept, which expands much wider than just on architecture. It starts with a mind and behaviour, transforms into a business idea and, finally, divides all society into two roles - service consumers and providers. There may be middlemen around but, depending on the point of view, they act as consumer or as provider representatives. Plus, the same actor can perform both roles simultaneously.

If we look at almost any enterprise, it acts as a service provider to its customers and as a service consumer for its suppliers. But why an internal organization of an enterprise is different from the external organization? If service orientation in the outside world works so well, why the enterprise cannot capitalize on this experience and transform itself into a service-oriented enterprise (SOE) internally?

Here is what I mean by SOE:
- a business organization whose Business and Technology converge based on the enterprise business model and service-oriented principles to achieve business goals and objectives in the most efficient way for dynamically changing external environment

The specific mission of SOE is to provide competent, resourceful, and stable business in the frequently changing external conditions that may include trading regime changes, regulation changes, extension into new markets and alike. To meet the changes, SOE emphasizes on sharing the same immediate goals by the Business and Technology, on working in Business-Technology ensemble rather than in consumer-provider model with potentially different interests.

Tony Murphy, the author of "Achieving Business Value From Technology", has explained why mentioned converge is so important: "Enterprises will begin competing with one another, not just on the products and services they provide, but also on their business models. Enterprises that can rapidly configure new business models based on changing market dynamics will have a distinct advantage over enterprises lacking the technical and business process ability to alter business models on the fly". If we add Forrester Research's observation: "The reality of the digital age is that your business is embodied in your technology - you don't have a business until you have it implemented in your technology base, and your business can change only as fast as your technology can", you, hopefully, get the full picture.

SO concept leads to the concept of market. SOE is an internal Regulated Business Market (instead of Business vs. IT). Service orientation drives what and why Business is doing; it affects how the Business as well as IT is working (e.g., see ITIL v.3). Armed with SO, an organisation can absorb the best business-technology practice in the market and, simultaneously, construct flexibility so much needed to survive in the fast changing economy, especially during the crisis.

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In this blog, Michael Poulin writes about business and technology ideas, concepts, methodologies and solutions leading to service-oriented enterprise, the primary instrument for obtaining business objectives in fast-changing environments.

Michael Poulin

Michael Poulin is an enterprise-level solution architect working in the financial industry in the U.K. and the United States.

He specializes in building bridges between business needs and technology capabilities with emphasis on business and technical efficiency, scalability, robustness and manageability. He writes about service orientation, application security and use of modern technologies for solving business problems. He contributes to OASIS SOA standards as an independent member and is listed in the the international "Who's Who of Information Technology" for 2001. View more

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