***Editor's Note: If you like this topic, join ebizQ for this
month's special roundtable on BPM/SOA Trends for 2008.
Brands are reinforced every day with thousands of well-executed interactions
with valued clients, whether it is the friendly gesture of the Ritz-Carlton
concierge or the extra help offered by the Virgin Airlines front desk associate.
Businesses know that every interaction with customers tests their brands. They
need agile and flexible service organizations and systems that can help them
deliver memorable experiences at every touch point-in the face of exploding
customer interaction options and expectations.
Agility and flexibility are challenging attributes for any organization to
inculcate, let alone large organizations. In this article, we discuss why and
how a service-oriented architecture can make a big difference in an organization's
ability to adapt, and propose an SOA-centric approach for designing and implementing
customer interaction management systems -Service-Oriented Customer Interaction
Architecture (SOCIA). We also explain why executives should ensure SOCIA compliance
for any future investment in their customer interaction systems.
The Need for SOCIA
Technology helps businesses streamline processes and offer new services. Every
five to seven years, enterprises invest in platform-based technology solutions
that take years to implement. If the market dynamic, consumer technologies,
or customer expectations changes rapidly-as they did in the last decade-businesses
are stuck with expensive platforms that perfectly address the business need
of a few years ago! Due to the monolithic nature of these platforms, there remains
a costly gap between ever-changing market requirements and the inflexible technology
(and process) capability within enterprises.
For example, some years ago, companies made significant investment in customer
relationship management (CRM) systems. Soon, with new market forces, these businesses
felt the need to "multi-source" their customer contact operations,
making it nearly impossible to maintain a single repository for customer data.
Their expensive CRM systems could deliver value only if all relevant customer
data was stored within them. In a fragmented customer data environment (the
new reality), most all-in-one CRM systems became square pegs in what was now
a round hole. Frontline staff had to devise stop-gap solutions to compensate
for the mismatch between the monolithic CRM platform and distributed service
processes and data sources.