Two stories that demonstrate success with SOA in smaller financial service organisations show how it can be used to support very different business objectives.
Obviously, SOA is not a certain or easy win and require a degree of organisational and technological change to be successful. However, it is nice to see some success with SOA emerging in organisations apart from the usual suspects of Wachovia or HSBC.
The first is EBS, a firm with 10% of the Irish home loan market that wanted to automate its relationship with its network of brokers. EBS recognised that its mortgage products were actually made up of a set of different products (core loan, home insurance, life policy, legals etc), each of which potentially required separate systems to complete processing. The final SOA system is able to integrate across all of these systems and across to the brokers. The biggest change/benefit highlighted by David Yeates, the senior manager of IT architecture at EBS, is actually the mythical alignment of business with IT – although he says it a little differently:
“A huge amount of business knowledge exists in the IT department, but that tacit knowledge remained there,” Yeates says of the old way of working. “It [SOA] turns the IT department on its head: suddenly, from being in the back room, you have to be at the front. The issues for IT departments are absolutely enormous. IT isn’t a thing that’s holding people back anymore.”
Yeates also mentions another benefit of their SOA deployment – not only does it reduce time to market for new products, it also allow them to white label other providers’ products. Which neatly leads onto the second example of SOA success: Webster Bank, profiled by IBS Publishing. Webster came to SOA from a very different direction: It wanted to move away from its own core banking systems – which were under strain – and outsource to use Fidelity’s systems.
The CTO, John Kershner states that the decision was whether to spend ‘x million dollars’ on point-to-point interfaces that would be difficult to support and maintain or take that money and invest it in new technology, to create an SOA infrastructure with the associated lower maintenance costs.
Again, the article claims that Webster has had pretty much unlimited success with the project. Reflecting what is a common experience, Kershner highlights the biggest challenge as managing and coordinating as many as 30 different project teams over 15 to 18 months.