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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

Webinar: SOA Needs Visionary Leadership, Not Just Technical Management

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There are a lot of analogies that can be made between SOA and space flight. But don't worry, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to set SOA on its right course. I recently joined Software AG's Miko Matsumura and Jignesh Shah, authors of SOA Adoption for Dummies, in a Webcast that took this analogy to the outer limits. (Access to Webinar here, full transcript here.)

As we have seen with the NASA space program, technology and technology management are about 10% of the reason for success. The other 90% comes from leadership and motivation.

Miko said that SOA needs visionary leadership to move it forward -- not just technical management. The United States landed people on the moon in 1969 not just because NASA was a well-managed operation. The drive for the moon, accomplished within eight years, was the result of leadership, starting with President John Kennedy's pronouncement in 1961. "This statement is a leadership statement...  ...so it's interesting to see how the leader can really harness a really large group of people into a common goal and common mission."

Of course, he adds, "what we're not necessarily saying is SOA has to be as ambitious, complex and expensive [as the space program], but certainly there's a couple of things you can draw from the analogy side."

Jignesh points out that the people leading many SOA efforts come from the integration side of the house. "Integration tends to be a top use case for SOA," he says, adding that he's also seeing companies appoint an SOA champion or even an SOA czar.

Miko and Jignesh spoke of gunning SOA efforts at the start to reach "escape velocity" and eventually "weightlessness."  What is this point of weightlessness? It's where SOA is thoroughly baked into the organization, to the point where it's automatic, or second nature, Miko and Jignesh say.

As the SOA "rocket" climbs and reaches escape velocity, what's fueling it? Miko says motivation is the fuel that keeps the effort moving upward. "I think for us the fuel is less budgetary and more motivational. ...what we're really talking about is sort of 'crossing of the danger zone.' There's this initial phase, where this thing has been launched, but there hasn't been major business traction. You're just growing it, and getting people across that -- not a big-bang budget proposal. There needs to be a way to ignite and sustain the kind of motivational energy."

The way to keep the fires going is by showing the business results along the way. "Things like appropriate measurement and appropriate reporting can really help to continue to feed and fuel the initial success, and turn it into sustained success," Miko says.

Miko and Jignesh will also be sharing their insights at Software AG;s upcoming SOA Summit, sponsored by Software AG and to be held May 5 and 6 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Finally, I like how Miko summarized the current state of SOA:

"Its been my experience that SOA is probably more alive today than any point in its history. It feels good; it feels pretty solid to me."
(Access to Webinar here, full transcript here.)

In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more

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