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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

Transcript: Miko Matsumura Discusses SOA Summit 2009

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The following is a full transcript from ebizQ's recent pocast featuring Software AG's Miko Matsumura and myself.

Listen to or download the 13:25 podcast below:

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Joe McKendrick: This is Joe McKendrick, contributing analyst to ebizQ and I'm here with Miko Matsumura, Chief Strategist for Software AG and one of the organizers of the recent SOA Summit 2009 Conference held in Scottsdale, Arizona. Miko, welcome.

Miko Matsumura: Hi Joe, nice to be here.

Joe: We appreciate being able to join us and we're going to recap the events that took place at SOA Summit.  I had the opportunity to attend myself, and, of course, moderate the panel discussion. Fantastic conference, a lot of good information coming out of there. Miko, you were the emcee of the event, and you provided a great overview. I thought was a terrific overview of what the state of SOA, what is required to get SOA moving. You talked about the -- I guess you could call it the human element, the organizational element that companies need to embrace and work on to move SOA forward.

Miko: Yeah, we're all pretty excited.  I mean one of the things that got picked up by David Linthicum is pretty much what John Rymer said which is that we're sort of moving into a next stage of SOA.  Now Dave I think is rightfully skeptical since he wasn't at the event itself didn't really feel the buzz.  And not only that, but didn't actually get the change to meet with John Rymer from Forrester and get a feel for what he was trying to say. 

John recently published a piece that got picked up by a number of journals as well that a bunch of different publications talking about how SOA adoption is really taking off now.  And from my vantage point what I was hearing at the conference is, is that a lot of what's behind the second wave of seen here it's really -- its not a new architecture, it's not this kind of goofy SOA 2.0 type of thing that people are rightfully dismissive of.  It's the same old SOA. 

The thing that I think charging this kind of new wave of adoption is that people understand the problems better.  They really starting to hit it with the "G" word, governance, and they're starting to understand the requirements around getting adoption.  And adoption is a human term.  The other dimension of adoption that got exposed at the conference by Sean Valcamp at Avnet is the word that he used, "approval", which is approval and adoption are two different dimensions one of which is sort of upward facing and the other one which is sort of downward or horizontally facing, which is how do you get the troops to look to you and how do you get the generals to send you into the battlefield. 

So I think that those two dimensions are really two different facets of the human factor and I think that's what John Rymer was talking about when he was talking about entering a new phase.

Joe: Yeah, it's interesting too. A lot of the discussion based on Anne Thomas Manes SOA is Dead proclamation and we didn't fight Anne on that point, but we kind of took her point and ran with it that -- and especially John kind of brought this out that the SOA market phase, the SOA marketing phase is dead because SOA is so vital and pervasive now.  It's so critical to all levels of business operations.

Miko:  eWeek's Darryl Taft wrote a piece recently about John Rymer's article and about his point and he said that SOA should be buried because it's dead.  And while I enjoyed that and kind of got a laugh out of the play on words, I actually think that it sort of kind of a unfortunate metaphor.  I mean what he's really implying is that it should be kind of hidden from view.  And the question becomes whose view should it be hidden from. 

And I think it is appropriate to a major extent to hide SOA from the view of business people and people who are involved in sort of funding and things like that.  But I posted a reply on his article basically saying, like, look, think of it this way.  Think of is as something like skiing.  So skiing involves a lot of skill and grace and really ultimately what you would like to be able to do is to go down the hill in a way that sort of effortless and yet extremely fast.  And also -- that's what agility is.  Agility is kind of responding to what's actually in front of you and doing it in a way that's elegant, graceful and dynamic. 

And so the thing about it is you don't' say like the skill of skiing should be buried.  It doesn't quite line up.  It's a funny mix of metaphor.  But what it really means is that where does the effortlessness come from -- effortlessness?  So when you look at a really good skier, you go like, wow, that's so effortless.  And so the thing is it's like where did that come from.  And where frankly where it comes from is it comes from skill, and practice, and coordination, and experience.  And I think all of that is where we're going. 

And so I think the concept of sort of burying SOA now that it's dead it's a clever play on words but it really kind of -- what it doesn't really do is it doesn't reflect the kind of attention and care that the IT people need to pay in order to succeed and to create this kind of thing that looks effortless.  It's like, wow, you know the guy that just kind of went cowabunga with no skills and tried to the bottom of the hill faster.  It's like, huh, how is it that they're kind of sitting there with their leg broken in the middle of the hill with the ski patrol kind of lofting them down. 

And it's just because they wanted to get to the bottom of the hill really fast but they didn't have the skill, they didn't have the concept.  And so that's kind of the metaphor that I've been sort of applying and its sort of what I commented on Darryl's piece.  But I think to bring back to the kind of SOA Summit that's really what I'm seeing.  Like I'm seeing like a lot of expertise being applied to understanding how the human element comes into the equation and how people are succeeding with adoption from that vantage point.  And once again, it is skillful and graceful, like, I'm very impressed by it what some of the customers are reporting.

Joe: Exactly what you're seeing came out and Kevin Flowers' presentation. Kevin Flowers of Coca-Cola Enterprises who, also keynoted at the SOA Summit talked about his SOA implementation. And I don't recall Kevin even actually using the term "Service Oriented Architecture" in the description of his project, providing mobility and access to his merchandising workforce. But in the process they have been saving millions of dollars   and they have the rest of the organization really turned on and wanting to know what John did and wanting more of it.

Miko: Yeah, yeah.  No, I absolute concur.  I mean we all are pretty impressed by his presentation and I think one of things that I felt was kind of the take home from Kevin's sort of narrative is really kind of how powerful sort of leadership is.  Because what his style of leadership it's very kind of exciting and dynamic.  I would almost characterize it as marketing, which is that IT -- he's an IT practitioner and in some sense he's really marketing SOA.  He's kind of showing off what it can do.  And he's like, hey look at what I can do.  And the business doesn't sit there and go oh, yeah, that's a really good SOA.  That's doesn't -- that's not that interesting to them. 

What the business is seeing is they're seeing like how the heck did you get all that financial information, and real time sales, and distribution information onto this map, and how can you kind of real time see the mobile workforce deploying and delivering Coca-Cola products, like, that's astonishing.  We're onboard and we're going to fund whatever it is that you're doing over there.  It isn't to do its like hey, that's a pretty neat SOA.  Obviously, -- and to some extent if you kind of read Anne's article its consistent  in the sense that her point is that  you don't go to the business and say fund my nice SOA. 

And Kevin Flowers, I think, hit the nail on the head there which is he's basically showing the results.  He's saying, look, this what a skier looks like.  In a way, it's harder but as Paolo Malinverno from Gartner says, SOA is Inevitable.  What he means by that is that if you ski down the hill enough times you're going become a good skier.  And if you keep trying to go faster without learning the skills, you're going to hurt yourself.  And so, so just give it time and you will go that way.  I mean you don't have much choice.  You can choose other ways but you're probably just going to hurt yourself.

Joe: Yeah, I -- in fact, I quote Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers.  He said all the master practitioners in any field, their secret to success is having put in at least 10,000 hours.

Miko: Yeah, I appreciated that.  Like in the panel that was one of your lead-ins which is this kind of notion of having outliers and people who have kind of written the books or who've really done the legwork to try to pioneer a field.  And the thing that's funny about SOA is that for a long time we were kind of looking at a bunch of these abstractions like web services and all these kind of goofy little side trails and trying to figure if there really truly is a layer of abstraction. 

And the thing that I think we've increasingly discovering is that the layer that we're really talking about is sort of the human layer.  One of themes that I kind of tossed out at the conference is this concept of stepping out of your silo and I think that was something you picked out, which I appreciated.  It gave me the opportunity to revisit the idea.  And what I'm really kind of like garnering from that and from how people responded to it is that what's happening in adoption is that people have understood the core problem. 

They understood the core problem as being essentially that there's this huge explosive value trapped in enterprise software is silos.  And that's that -- all you have to do is connect two silos and it's almost like connecting a positive and negative electrical system you get energy.  And that's exciting but then people get on top of the silo they're sort of tribal behavior, and there's business unit behavior, and there's competition, and aggression, and rivalry, and all kinds of different contention points not just the sort of technical platform integration.

So that's the different between integration and SOA which we talked about at the conference which is the difference is that integrating systems is systems are logical and well behaved and you just have to figure out the protocol.  Or as different groups of people have their own political interests and economic interests.  But I think that the theme that brings it down to the sort of stepping out of your silo theme is basically that people are beginning to understand that there's an individual behavior component.  And if you kind of dig into it, that's what a lot of people are starting to drive to with this sort of lifecycle governance thing. 

Like federation and lifecycle governance actually drills down now to the sort level of individual behavior, which is for example, if you go down to a developer and you ask him like why should I look in the registry at all, and why should I reuse what's in the registry at all, and why should I connect it to my business processes.  Individual people are going to ask these questions.  So the thing that's fascinating, Sean at Avnet said that he actually takes measurements at three different levels to coordinate his adoption program.  The three different levels are essentially financial measurements, operational measurements, and behavioral measures. 

And I really enjoyed that because to me I felt like these three levels of measurements both in the strategical as well as the technical domain create a matrix of measurements that enables you to drive adoption best practices down to the individual behavioral level.  And the thing that was funny about his situation is since they're such a kind of radical sort of B-to-B platform; they don't necessarily control and govern all the provider and consumer communities that flow across their network. 

So some of his metrics -- behavioral metrics are relatively soft.  Like for example, he measures attendance.  So Sean will hold sort of an SOA Summit of his own internal to Avnet and he'll count the people from the different groups that come and he'll sit there, and he'll take specific note of groups that didn't send any people and he'll use that as an adoption measurement.  Now, he doesn't go then and turnaround and use it as a stick to go beat those people up which I think actually works in some organizations.  

Joe: I've heard of that.

Miko: You can actually say -- there are some organizations where you have a little bit of leverage to beat people up.  But in his case, he didn't do that at all.  What he looked at, he looked at well, if they're not going to come to my thing, I need to reach out to them.  Like I need to go to them and say, I need to basically sell my product.  I need to go to them and say, what can I do to make it more exciting for you?  What can I do make you join my thing?  And that's pretty neat.  What I think it comes down to then is it comes down to individual behavior which I think is -- that's where the rubber is meeting the road now.  And that's why I think John Rymer is legitimately able to say that we've entered a next stage.

(End of Part 1 of Podcast)

Part 2 of Podcast: Miko Matsumura speaks to Joe McKendrick

Listen to or download the 11:03 podcast below:

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Joe: That's fascinating.  And Miko, you also pointed out when we talk about human behavior, you pointed out in your keynote that we have the Moore's Law, and Metcalf's Law, and so forth, systems and hardware, and processing capabilities have been doubling every year or every 18 months but that doesn't apply to human behavior and that's the element we need to focus on now.

Miko: Yeah, I mean, I think what's happening is that the traditional problems of IT are starting to speeds, and seeds, and performance and things are starting to kind of be sort of taking care of in the sense of what I would call good enough systems.  Because systems are approaching kind of good enoughness with respect to performance.  And what we're really trying to do is we're trying to achieve sort of a common (Inaudible) capacity. 

We're trying to achieve a way of making IT recombinant the way that DNA and protein start to serve as two layers of a abstraction.  So we're trying to create what I call at the end of the conference evolve ability, which is we want the ability to evolve and we want people's efforts to actually drive together into a shared framework so that it's not just a bunch of scattered independent, un-maintainable efforts that never converge.  We want the effort to converge and we want them to converge into essentially the enterprise platform.  You know we've tried sort of desperately in the past to make an enterprise platform out of a single vendor platform. 

And what turns out to happen is that you go for a pure platform and then the next thing you know there's MNA or there's some business situation where you need heterogeneity or maybe you don't need it but it's kind of forced upon you.  So you buy another bank and all of a sudden it's like, wow, that other bank is not all Microsoft.  And then you're mess again.  So I think acknowledging the sort of perpetual state of heterogeneity is part of the maturation, its part of becoming a good skier.  I guess the thing that I wanted to kind of drive too though is that this notion that human beings have this kind of evolutionary history in that in the sort of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years of human existence that we have not sort of doubled in our ability to work together. 

I think that is a tribalism kind of argument and it's an argument that speaks to the types of systems and silos and sort of inter-nesting warfare that emerges in any sizeable enterprise.  But the think that I think is kind of promising is -- if you actually looked at it from behavioral pattern perspective.  I've had the good fortune to speak with hundreds and hundreds of SOA implementation projects across the globe and so I've starting to see some of the patterns.  And it's interesting to see how individual survival actually trumps even tribal behavior. 

And that's why I'm so interesting in kind of individual stepping out of the silo type of behavior because the individual behavior ultimately individual survival -- if you just look at it from a pure evolutionary perspective, of course, it's bolder.  I mean we from a evolutionary perspective, we were individual organisms before we were social organism.  And social being social is really just kind of evolved out of being (Inaudible).  And obviously, there are other social species out there but in our evolutionary history that's pretty much what triggered it. 

So I guess what I'm kind of driving at from the big perspective is that the word "federation" has come to mean something I think a bit bigger which is that, Darryl Plummer, a Gartner fellow research analyst, a very, very deep thinker said federation is essentially -- a very (Inaudible) definition.  What do you have to give up in order to be part of something bigger?  And the thing that I absolutely love about is that while that applies to like the United Federation of Planets, or it applies to all kinds of federations of different tribes.  The Nakoda Federation, the Iroquois Nation, all these different federations.  But the thing that -- or the United States of America, the sort of federal government. 

But the point that I guess I'm kind of trying to drive to is that phrase that folks -- definition of federation with this concept of what do I have to give up to be part of something bigger actually scales down to the individual level, which is pretty awesome.  I mean, so as a definition, it's extremely powerful because a developer can ask themselves well, what do I have to give up in order to be part of something bigger?  And in some ways, it's like, okay, well, maybe I have to give up a little autonomy, maybe I have to give up sort of the idea that my IDE can contain the entire enterprise and all of its business logic.  That's a pretty fantastic idea and it hasn't worked. 

I think you do have to give up something but the sort of theory behind federation and why we federate is directly connected to the sort of basis for why human beings are social which is we do get something out of it.  We want to be part of something bigger and as we join something bigger, yeah, yeah, there's penalties associated with it but we have to presume that it's worthwhile.

Joe: That's why we federate in the nations, and even in the states, and municipalities, right?

Miko: Absolutely.  And I think that federation as a sort of meta pattern recognizes the fact that at the end we have -- the thing social scientists call the Dunbar number which is basically that we do group in clusters of about of 150 people and that we can't really effectively maintain close social contact with more than number without kind of cybernetic assistance from like Twitter, and Facebook, and all these other kinds of mechanisms.  But in terms of like creating an organizational framework, 150 tends to be a pretty decent number in terms of tribe size. 

And then if you want to make something bigger, you absolutely have to take these sort of cluster units and start federating those.  And that's what we see.  That's what we see everywhere in the enterprise.  And you would think that it's like oh, well, it's going to be different in China because they have different culture, or hey, it's going to be different in Brazil.  But like I go to all these places and I watch what they're doing with SOA and it is absolutely common.  It's absolutely the same.  Organizations are organizations and they're divided into subdivision and that's just life.

Joe:  Interesting, interesting.  Yeah, because you see statistics the analyst firms release now and then saying Europe is further ahead in SOA, or there's more progress in India. And you wonder well, ghee, is there something cultural behind that, more of a stronger community sense or shared sense of purpose.

Miko: Well, I think it's a wonderful insight because I actually have seen a lot of those statistics and it is amazing that the organizations like European Central Bank who's essentially the driving organization behind the Euro, the European Monetary Federation.  They're a customer of Software AG Web Methods and they're federating in a way that's in advance of the way that he banking organizations in the United States are federating.  And in a way, if you look at it, it's like they may have a longer cultural history of federation just because they just live closer together with a lot of their neighboring countries and that maybe just the function of how people sort of develop culturally.

But ultimately, I think federation is -- you can call it a technology and it's a technology that's achieving pretty wide spread adoption and I think that the technology arena is beginning to understand the implications of it because I think to date we've been sort of grossly focused on the machines themselves and how fast they go.  And that's a legitimate focus but I think that focus is beginning to lessen.  That's not what's holding us back, frankly.

Joe: Interesting.  Okay.  You know what talk about leadership and you also had Susan Cramm, the head of -- founder of ValueDance and also has a blog over that the Harvard Business School, Have IT Your Way. She talked about developing leadership skills.

Miko: Susan has been in the Fortune 1000 both as a CIO and an CFO so she's had some pretty good experience on both sides of that fence.  And that conversation's a very vital conversation these days.  I mean some organizations actually have the CIO report to the CFO and report how much numbers they slashed out of the IT budget so that's certainly something that we all need to kind of be aware in the current economic climate. 

So I think that was great about Susan's contribution is that she really added a layer of the leadership element.  I mean her official practice at Valuedance is leadership coaching.  But the thing that I think is great about is that it's not -- (Inaudible) leadership coaching is kind of an art in the soft science.  She comes at it from a perspective of having been at the executive level but she's not just sort of sitting around in soft science doing kind of soft work.  I means she was very clear on what the issues are and I think for her to designate leadership as sort of a prime high order bit for adoption I think it's absolutely spot on.  And one of the things that is true about the leadership pattern is that the leadership pattern absolutely drive both federation as well as organizations and it drives adoption.  So I think all of those things are pretty interesting.

Joe: Okay.  Great.  Great.  We've run out of time, Miko.  We really appreciate being able to share your observations.  It was definitely an exciting conference and it's an exciting time to be involved with Service Oriented Architecture and all its offshoots.

Miko: Yeah, yeah, so let me just toss out that one of the things that I'm working on right now on my blog at SOA Center this kind of construct of what I call the human enterprise, which is a new way of looking this combination of hardware/software and human beings.  And if you are interested in that, feel free to stop by, or if you're interested in my book as well, SOA Adoption for Dummies, that's a free download as well.

Joe: An excellent book too.  In fact, I was glad I was able to get a print copy there at the conference so it's now available in print as well as PDF. I didn't have a chance to get your signature on it Miko.  Next time I see you I want you to sign it for me.

Miko:  Yeah, absolutely.  And if anybody wants to, you can contact me through SOA Center and I'm happy to get a copy to you. 

Joe:  Great.  And that's http://www.soacenter.com.

Joe:  Okay.  Great.  Thanks Miko.  I appreciate it.

Miko:  Yeah, absolutely.  Good talking to you.

Joe:  Thanks for everybody for joining us for this podcast and this has been Joe McKendrick talking to Miko Matsumura, Chief Strategist for Software AG.

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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