Where is my service-oriented ROI?

There are a number of blogs, discussion groups, podcasts, etc. talking about Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) and Service-oriented Integration (SOI). Instead of focusing on them individually, this blog focuses on using them together for better ROI results.

Service-oriented Integration (SOI) is the practice of using XML over HTTP (e.g. Web Services) to achieve interoperability between applications and services – for example, wrapping a legacy application function and exposing it to other applications, services, and business partners. Service-oriented architecture (SOA) encompasses architecture principles and best practices that guide the design and implementation of SOI, including methods that minimize coupling, complexity, and functional overlap. Most SOA initiatives start with the need to integrate an application; I believe the reason why companies fail and overspend on SOA initiatives is due to the lack of consideration for SOI and SOA together.

Granted, with the current economic state we all want to save money. That is why we need to utilize this loose coupling of applications and services especially in the SMB space. Small and mid-sized companies are constrained by a number of factors including personnel, skill sets and cash flow. Enabling SOI and applying practices and polices of SOA across the enterprise will help any SMB achieve it’s short and long term goals of integration.

In order to be a service-oriented company, you will need to utilize web services (SOAP and REST) on the provider and consumer side, not only internally but externally as well across the enterprise. This will help you achieve ROI benefits such as reusability, reliability, rapid integration, extending business reach and reduced errors/rework. Understand that technology alone will not produce proven results and benefits because of several business factors including rollout speed and system adoption rate.

Let me stubbornly point out that there is no standard for determining service-oriented ROI. The ROI should focus on things like reduced operational and developmental costs, streamlining and automating business processes; but also take into consideration additional benefits such as reduced process time, data entry and paperwork etc. We have all heard of the substantial failure rates for SOA and the reasons why, but are we comparing apples to apples? The primary question still remains, are we accurately, truthfully calculating service-oriented ROI?

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