Enterprise SOA

This will be a bit technical.

I just read an article called “How SOA is Driving a New Type of Enterprise Application“, which talks about using “Business Process Applications” to streamline your business.

Ok, I don’t buy it out of the box, but that’s a personal bias.  I keep reading.  How do “BPAs” make business better?

BPAs are pre-built to automate industry-specific, customizable processes based on industry standards and best practices.

In other words, they help you make your business exactly like your competitors’

Now.  There are plenty of things that you might want to do to standardize.  You might want to use the same voltage on your power outlets as everyone else.  You might want to use the same size paper as everyone else.

But your fundamental business processes?  Let’s consider the pros and cons:

Pro

  • Employees who come from your competitors will be able to fit into the infrastructure more easily
  • You will be “on par” with your competitors with regard to these processes
  • Having been well thought through, these processes are probably not completely full of holes

Con

  • You’ve potentially sacrificed an area where you can differentiate yourself from your competitors by making your process easier/faster/less expensive
  • You’ve reduced your flexibility to changes in the marketplace – game changing innovations may (and eventually will) make your process old, antiquated and obsolete

Is standardization always bad?  No, absolutely not.  There are a number of benefits to standardization, that can be a real boon.  In some cases, it may be that standardization is absolutely required because of market dynamics.  But there are also dangers.   Unfortunately, the dangers are often more subtle, more long term, and are often lost in the noise of ‘we have to be like everyone else, ’cause we’ll be more efficient’

Ford and GM are both very efficient.  It is not efficiency that is killing them in the market.  It’s innovation and adapting to customer needs.

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