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A ferry named “Enterprise”
Let me begin with the following (not-so) fictional story: IT and Business camps have been co-operating from the opposite banks of the same river for decades. They make a decent living by ferrying customers from one side to the other by co-owned ferry that they have aptly named ‘Enterprise’. Even though the ferry looks pretty modern and is described on the enterprise Web-site as ‘customer oriented’ it doesn’t take a consulting guru to envisage what benefits would be delivered to both the customers and the service providers if only both camps managed to design and build a decent bridge across the river. In fact why such a bridge hasn’t been built yet is murky waters for many industry visionaries not mentioning scores of bridge and enterprise architects.

In recent years the pressure has mounted even higher as many inconvenienced customers have got a hold of Enterprise ownership (which is now publicly listed) and simply demand it to provide them with yet higher dividends by designing and building what they don’t even call a bridge any more – but an integrated super-system connecting all aspects of the re-designed Enterprise and the World beyond while maintaining client-centric approach. Still, a good ferryman who understands what’s going on at both sides of the river and knows how to get through the currents is in higher demand than ever before.

Reality Check
Steering back to reality – there have been numerous attempts to achieve business-IT alignment in the course of the so called end-to-end development methodologies, but none of them really succeeded. Using our metaphor they have brought about friendly hand-waving of campers on the two opposite river banks with none of them really inclined to pay a visit to the others. In recent years the focus of the discussion has moved to more of the paradigm shift with each side (this time represented by BPM and SOA teams) claiming that they are better positioned to manage the required change. I will approach the problem posed in the title by asking two auxiliary questions:

1. Apart from all the hype, is the BPM/SOA approach at its core different from what have been tried before to bridge the business-IT gap?
2. Is there any brake-through feature (technological, methodological or perhaps architectural) that poses BPM/SOA approach as a likely winner over the previous attempts?

My answer to both of the questions above is ‘No’ and I will describe the reasons for that below. This means that without discrediting all the advantages that BPM/SOA approach brings with it (a list of which one can find on BPM/SOA Web-site of their choice) we are still not any closer to resolving the issue of bridging business-IT divide and I will provide main reasons for it in the last part of the article.

About the Author

Dr Zygmunt Jackowski is a System Innovation Staff Member of DIMA (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs) with several years of international experience in IT industry. He specializes in methodology and architecture disciplines as perceived from both business and IT perspectives. His research and publications include Extreme System Analysis, Agile Business Process Modelling and Enterprise Architecture. You can contact him at zygmunt.jackowski@immi.gov.au.

More by Zygmunt Jackowski, PhD



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