In the traditional enterprise framework, organizational executives examine the marketplace, identify what they believe to be market opportunities and develop business strategies to exploit them. Middle management then creates processes to organize and optimize operations around the new strategies. In the traditional paradigm IT is called upon to automate these processes. For the past half century, this is how the enterprise has functioned. Today, market complexities are in constant flux, and its the job of todays executives to adapt organizational behavior to accommodate these shifts while cost-effectively meeting top-line growth targets. An increasingly competitive and chaotic global marketplace is driving executives to change strategies and tactics faster than ever. IT has spent much of the past 40 years automating processes with systems, but they mow must adapt process-enabling systems to these changing requirements. Todays CIO needs to provide a nimble business infrastructure amidst the complexity of acquired heterogeneous IT environments and leverage IT as a strategic weapon often with flat budget and resource. How is this done?
Unfortunately, the traditional enterprise path leads to a great disconnect. Todays business environment must be borderless, connected and technologically enhanced, while corporate interdependence, increased competition, globalization and international regulation have made the landscape so complex and dynamic that inward-facing strategies no longer suffice.
At the same time, in almost in every case, there is an untapped amount of available information moving freely across the boundaries between the enterprise and its business ecosystem that could be used for increased profitability. Leading organizations are those who best capture, contextualize and seamlessly manage the flow of information across organizational, departmental and geopolitical boundaries. This requires a flexible, consistent, easily modifiable business process platform that is easily extended to customers and partners, without the need for expensive, hard-to-find resources. This platform must hide the complexities of heterogeneous back-office systems and provide interoperability between the standards that partners and customers enforce. This enables an IT-driven business architecture that minimizes the cost, time and risk of executing market-driven strategic changes. This is a radically different approach from the traditional hierarchical path previously discussed.
The solution is to leverage service-oriented architectures (SOAs) from a broader, multienterprise perspective. Multienterprise SOA creates and manages flexible business processes that span dynamic value chains. It encompasses business process management, enterprise application integration and business-to-business (B2B) collaboration. It facilitates a true partnership between IT and business stakeholders by providing a business architecture that is understandable and accessible to nontechnical resources, enabling organizations to rapidly adapt to changing business, technology and legislative environments while enabling IT-driven growth.
While the traditional SOA approach is focused solely on internal processes, only multienterprise SOAs extend business services across the boundaries of a companys business ecosystem.
Todays successful organizations must develop a system of listening to customers, partners, suppliers, competitors and regulators to detect change and create adaptive strategies to best increase growth and shareholder value within the context of those changes quickly and more easily than before. As corporations are comprised of multiple domains, each with their own leadership, politics, metrics, systems, standards and decision-making abilities, multienterprise SOAs are the only style of integration suited to interoperate disparate processes and systems between multiple domains, whether theyre internal or external to the enterprise. And it enables IT to automate those new strategies faster than before.
This following are five multienterprise SOA best practices for achieving an architecture that will form the foundation of a long-term strategic business foundation and positions IT as a competitive weapon.
1. Build an interoperable architecture. Traditional SOA that is built on platforms focused on internal systems integration or limited to Web services falls short in its ability to interoperate in environments where standards across domains cannot be dictated. Further, internal-focused SOA isnt built to handle the requirements of diverse trading partner communities consisting of diverse members, each with diverse technology platforms and communication standards.
With the innovative multienterprise SOA foundation, the new executive paradigm allows IT to become an integral partner in driving rapid response to changing market conditions. Through a focus on interoperability, IT can create an enterprise framework for reusing functionality that lives in heterogeneous environments. This will obviate the need for individual, hand-coded interfaces between monolithic systems and will allow executives to respond more rapidly to changing business conditions and requirements. With this focus on heterogeneity and interoperability, IT can enable the seamless flow of valuable information across organizational, departmental, geopolitical, system and process boundaries, helping the enterprise mitigate the risk of changing market, technology and legislative environments.
2. Implement incrementally. Multienterprise SOA provides for a cost-effective infrastructure that does not need to be thrown away when requirements change. With the innovative multienterprise SOA foundation, organizations can take an incremental approach to integration that allows high ROI projects to form the foundation of a long-term sustainable architecture. By taking an incremental project-based approach, IT organizations can build internal credibility and grow IT into a strategic business unit.
3. Focus IT to innovate on revenue generating processes. Growth requires integrated business processes that easily extend to the business community. A multienterprise SOA enables an organization to tie its B2B environment and internal systems together, creating long-term sustainable architecture required for organic growth. With B2B and internal systems linked in real time, organizations can gain visibility into, for example, near real-time point-of-sale data, leading to more accurate demand forecasting and planning. This gives the company better control of its inventory and allows for faster product introductions and delivery times to retailers, ensuring products are at customer sites when, how and in the quantities needed to grow sales.
Rapid partner onboarding is another critical element of IT-enabled growth. By incorporating an onboarding solution into your business architecture, the risk of corporate customer flight is decreased, time-to-market is increased and revenue is realized and recognized faster. An onboarding solution also frees IT to focus other business problems and opportunities.
4. Scale to trading partner requirements. Growth requires a platform that scales to present and future trading partner requirements. An organizations ability to support growth with a consistent operating model is predicated on platform scalability and performance, regardless of file sizes and volumes. In a multienterprise SOA environment, IT can go beyond existing B2B applications and processes and marry them to SOAs, creating integrated business platforms that emphasize cross value chain interoperability.
5. Provide operational workers and executives the right information, in the right context, at the right time. Once upon a time, pilots flew by the seat of their pants, meaning they made mission-critical decisions based on instinct, not accurate timely data. Todays pilots are exception handlers. They look at an accurate, real-time view of thousands of heterogeneous in-flight systems and manage the planes operations.
Todays businesses are like yesterdays pilots. Your business is still flying by the seat of its pants. It is up to IT to create and contextualize the accurate, real-time time view of information describing mission-critical business activities that will lead to better decision-making and competitive advantage.
Multienterprise SOAs are becoming more pervasive because they complement ITs maturation into a key driver and strategic enabler of business growth. With a sustainable long-term architecture and an incremental approach, IT is becoming a strategic weapon powering growth and profitability.
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