SOA: A Mutual Approach to Technology
Insurance Experts' Forum, December 30, 2010
A couple of years ago, when I first began contributing to INN's "Expert's Forum," I published a piece on the business side of service oriented architecture. I thought a fitting analogy for the insurance industry was the idea that SOA is not owned by any one department or executive, but rather is jointly owned by all stakeholders.
Perhaps the best analogy for the way SOA should be governed is that of a mutual insurance company, in which the members are the company’s “owners” who play a role in electing company management. With SOA, every department should be the “owner” of the initiative, and play a role in the governance committee or team that oversees deployment decisions.
The IT department should be but one player in the SOA scenario, and should serve as the “administrative” arm of the SOA infrastructure. The perception that SOA is an “IT thing,” or that it should be controlled and managed by IT, has hampered the progression of service orientation in many companies.
Another perception that has hampered SOA in recent years is that many companies had been led to believe that SOA was a magic bullet that would deliver incredible agility and efficiencies within weeks and months. The fact of the matter is that SOA is a long-term initiative that slowly gains a head of steam on a year-to-year basis, as pieces of solutions become more flexible and processes are transformed.
Yes, SOA is a methodology and philosophy that promises to deliver great benefits to organizations, particularly in the legacy-system-intensive insurance and financial services industry. But the way this is achieved is if the business takes ownership of SOA, and recognizes that it is part of a long-term evolution.
SOA is an approach that has a lot of promise, and there are many successful implementations taking place across the industry, as documented here at Insurance Networking News. But it’s important to have realistic expectations—not too low, or not too high, but just right.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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