The Reuse Marketplace

Marcia Kaufman, a partner with Hurwitz & Associates, posted an article on entitled “The Risks and Rewards of Reuse.” It’s a good article, and the three recommendations can really be summed up in one word: governance. While governance is certainly important, the article misses out on another important, perhaps more important, factor: marketing.

When discussing reuse, I always refer back to a presentation I heard at SD East way back in 1998. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the speaker, but he had established reuse programs at a variety of enterprises, some successful and some not successful. He indicated that the factor that influenced success the most was marketing. If the groups that had reusable components/services/whatever were able to do an effective job in marketing their goods and getting the word out, the reuse program as a whole would be more successful.

Focusing in on governance alone still means those service owners are sitting back and waiting for customers to show up. While the architectural governance committee will hopefully catch a good number of potential customers and send them in the direction of the service owner, that committee should be striving to reach “rubber stamp” status, meaning the project teams should have already sought out potential services for reuse. This means that the service owners need to be marketing their services effectively so that they get found in the first place. I imagine the potential customer using Google searches on the service catalog, but then within the service catalog, you’d have a very Amazon-like feel that may say things like “30% of other customers found this service interesting…” Service owners would be monitoring this data to understand why consumers are or are not using their services. They’d be able to see why particular searches matched, what information the customer looked at, and know whether the customer eventually decided to use the service/resource or not. Interestingly, this is exactly what companies like Flashline and ComponentSource were trying to do back in the 2000 timeframe, with Flashline having a product to establish your own internal “marketplace” while ComponentSource was much more of a hosted solution intended at a community broader than the enterprise. With the potential to utilize hosted services always on the rise, this makes it even more interesting, because you may want your service catalog to show you both internally created solutions, as well as potential hosted solutions. Think of it as on the inside + with amazon partner content integrated from the outside. I don’t know how easily one could go about doing this, however. While there are vendors looking at UDDI federation, what I’ve seen has been focused on internal federation within an enterprise. Have any of these vendors worked with say, StrikeIron, so that hosted services show up in their repository (if the customer has configured it to allow them)? Again, it would be very similar to When you search for something on Amazon, you get some items that come from amazon’s inventory. You also get links to Amazon partners that have the same products, or even products that are only available from partners.

This is a great conceptual model, however, I do need to be a realist regarding the potential of such a robust tool today. How many enterprises have a service library large enough to warrant establishing this rich of a marketplace-like infrastructure? Fortunately, I do think this can work. Reuse is about much more than services. If all of your reuse is targeted at services, you’re taking a big risk with your overall performance. A reuse program should address not only service reuse, but also reuse of component libraries, whether internal corporate libraries or third-party libraries, and even shared infrastructure. If your program addresses all IT resources that have the potential for reuse, now the inventory may be large enough to warrant an investment in such a marketplace. Just make sure that it’s more than just a big catalog. It should provide benefit not only for the consumer, but for the provider as well.

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