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To enable business agility, service oriented architecture (SOA) needs to be extended beyond technology to embrace business strategies, processes, capabilities, sourcing, organization, and people. This broader approach to services can be called "Services Thinking."

Services Thinking defines and builds business capabilities, the core set of abilities to answer the question "how do we create value for our customers and return to our shareholders?" We believe these capabilities transcend business processes, organizational structures, and technology solutions, allowing the essence of the problem to be understood independent of the underlying tactical solutions.

As the creation of these capabilities are prioritized and deconstructed into strategic objectives and initiatives, underlying business processes and services can be more effectively identified and delivered. This should allow an organization's strengths and competitive advantages to be more effectively leveraged to help them overcome inherent complexities and inflexibilities.

Services Thinking is a departure from traditional definitions of SOA. But that is why it has resonated with so many organizations. By early 2009 most companies have some experience with SOA, from freestanding pilots to comprehensive company-wide mandates. But not many have found the dramatic successes envisioned.

We believe the reason for the lack of apparent success with SOA is twofold. First, there's the limited traditional definition of SOA. The scope of SOA initiatives is too often restricted to the technology arena, focused on interfaces and the movement of data between systems and the implementation of vendor tool offerings. Ignoring organization, business process, and the rest of the technology domains (application development, infrastructure, security, etc.) greatly limits the potential benefits of SOA.

Here, the Services Thinking approach helps address this shortsightedness, helping companies in their efforts to drive big picture perspective across all affected functions. By starting with the entire potential solution and refining into specific tactical initiatives, the Services Thinking approach better positions companies to achieve a comprehensive scope, but one that is pragmatic in planning and execution. The result should be a roadmap of successive initiatives focused on expanding capabilities with well-defined measures of success identified, so that progress can be tracked against original intent.


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