IBM’s Approach to SOA-based ROI
Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is delivering measurable results, driving new revenues in support of innovative business practices, improving agility and delivering efficiencies for increased profit. SOA supports the alignment of business and IT, enabling streamlined, efficient processes when leveraged with BPM (Business Process Management). The overall SOA goal is to ensure that IT systems offer a more competitive and dynamic responsiveness to changing market needs, driving new levels of customer value and stakeholder returns.
But there is a problem. The current economic downturn is forcing many companies to adopt a cautious and conservative posture with regard to new investments, placing increased pressure on cutting costs and focusing with laser-beam intensity on return on investment (ROI) measures for any new expense. Some companies are even wondering whether to back away from SOA altogether for the moment, leaving this significant shift in IT usage until less turbulent times.
However, a growing number of companies are seeking to respond to the difficult market conditions by seizing the competitive opportunities such upheaval brings. With a clear view of the longer term effects of SOA adoption, in terms of reducing IT development and maintenance costs while enabling business responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency to be improved, these companies are eager to drive forwards to gain competitive advantage. The key is to identify an acceptable approach towards SOA deployment that keeps costs down while delivering ‘quick wins’ to validate the ROI-based project justifications and reduce investment risk.
As might be expected, however, the effectiveness of this cost-constrained, ROI-focused approach to SOA is affected greatly by technology and supplier choices. In the past few years of steady economic growth, SOA technology suppliers have concentrated mostly on delivering to the strategic vision of SOA, with less focus on the near-term investment and return implications. While some have been quick to respond to the changing needs in this more restricted climate, others have been less so, and as a result there is a wide variance of functionality. The purpose of this paper is to review how well IBM is positioned in this area, given the challenges of today. It validates the suitability of SOA for achieving today’s goals of reduced costs and greater returns, identifies the key characteristics companies should look for in potential SOA suppliers and their offerings to support these needs and evaluates the IBM portfolio against these factors.