Consumer-Oriented *

Brenda Michelson just posted a blog entry titled How do you “Talk to Everyone”? She’s working on a whitepaper based upon the SOA Consortium‘s Executive Summits, and had recently read Jon Udell’s post on “Talking to Everyone.” She shared the following excerpt from her work-in-progress:

“To collaborate effectively, business and IT professionals must speak a common language. Historically, business professionals have been encouraged to increase their IT literacy. This has proven successful at the project execution level. However, collaboration on strategy and architecture is a business conversation first.

“Our entry is always the process and that’s what we actually talk about – how to optimize the process, how to drive the process…When I hear business people talk about systems and they mention System A, System B, System C, I know we’re in trouble. Because basically that means to me is that we are locked into the constraints of the environment.� – CTO during SOA Executive Summit

The CIO and CTO participants encourage business-smarts in their IT organizations. IT professionals, particularly senior leaders and enterprise architects, must understand the business, and be able to relate IT capability to business value generation.”

This brought me back to the first public presentation I gave on SOA. After presenting, one of the questions asked was, “How do you talk to the business about SOA?” My answer was that I don’t talk about SOA, I talk about the business. The business discussion should create the context for a discussion about SOA, not vice versa.

The real point of this message, however, is the notion of consumer-oriented actions. Any public speaker will tell you that’s it’s important to know your audience. While I’ve never stopped and asked my audience some background questions as some presenters do, I’m sure that there are presenters who use this practice and actually do adjust their communications on the fly based on the results. Likewise, if I’m building a user interface, it’s important to know characteristics of the end user. It’s typically even better to have a real end user involved, rather than make assumptions. The same thing applies to service development. A service, first and foremost, needs to do what its consumers want it to do. Furthermore, the more it presents itself in a manner that the consumer understands, the more likely they’ll use it.

In general, I believe that any activity will have a greater chance for success if it is focused on consumption first. Unfortunately, this is seldom the path of least resistance. The past of least resistance is to put things in a manner that you, the provider, understand well. Guess what, not everyone thinks like you. It’s even likely that the majority of people don’t think like you. To be successful, you need to understand that world of your consumers. Don’t go and talk to the CEO if you don’t understand the things that he or she thinks about on a daily basis and finds important. Do your background, and position yourself for success by learning the environment of your consumers and doing your best to make it the path of least resistance for them, rather than the path of least resistance for you.

Leave a Reply


This blog represents my own personal views, and not those of my employer or any third party. Any use of the material in articles, whitepapers, blogs, etc. must be attributed to me alone without any reference to my employer. Use of my employers name is NOT authorized.