Disrupted by SOA

In his links post, James McGovern had some comments on my Long Tail of Applications post. He stated:

Todd Biske wants to eliminate the term “application” as it implies a monolith. I would like to point out to Todd that there is another usage of the word that still remains important which primarily indicates a funding model. It is possible and viable to build a great SOA while still letting the finance folks think in terms of applications. Removing the term from architects is a great thing but very disruptive for other parts of the enterprise.

I’m glad James brought up the whole funding model aspect of it. As he rightly calls out, the removal of the term “application” is probably not terribly disruptive for architects, it’s very disruptive for the rest of the organization. How many IT departments have organizations with application development in the title? How many project charters contain the words “…deliver an application…” in their text? If you agree with the premise that, in general, IT is not delivering at the level it could be, then something needs to change. We need a disruption. If that disruption ripples all the way up to the way projects are defined and funded, then so be it. This type of change doesn’t happen overnight, and is not going to be without many bumps in the road.

Does everyone need this type of disruption? Perhaps not, but I think that it’s a very difficult thing to determine. If you’ve read The Innovator’s Dilemma or The Innovator’s Solution, you know what I’m talking about. While I can envision what an organization that has truly embraced SOA and BPM technologies might look like, it’s far more challenging to determine what the path to that state is, which can also leave you wondering whether it’s even necessary. Ultimately, it only becomes necessary when some unknown competitor embraces it and starts beating the pants off of you. Finding that first example that justifies trying a new way of doing things is hard enough, finding the second and the third to justifying sustaining it is even tougher. I’m up for the challenge, though!

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