Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What is common between SOA and BI projects?

(This is one of my favorite topics, so please bear with the long post…)

Both kinds of projects fail to deliver their promises most of the times…! :-)

Here are some evidences – Anne from Burton group reports that SOA is not working in most of the organizations. She also adds that many companies have stunningly beautiful SOA infrastructure and deployed the best technology. Yet those initiatives fall out. I can personally vouch for this statement. I have seen the same experience in the recent past. And more importantly, she says Techies have not been able to communicate the value of SOA to business partners!. Absolutely true! Out of the interviews she conducted so far, She confirms there is only one company that can be classified to have done true SOA.

What a startling observation?

While System Integrators are boasting of 100s and even 1000s of SOA case studies, an industry analyst says there is only one. It all boils down to the question of - do we understand SOA enough?

Now coming to BI projects, my fellow architect in the team confirms 40% of BI projects typically fail to meet their objectives purely because of data quality, data ownership issues. 40% is not a small number, especially when we deploy fancy DW/BI tools in place.

Now, what is so common between these projects?

As I have written in mashup posts, anything beyond plain vanilla operations – say Operational Excellence, Generating Insights/Analytics, Growth, Innovation, Governance, Reuse and Sharing – requires not just ‘tools and technologies’ but the ‘people’s hearts and soul/Passion & Energy’.

If the SOA/BI/Mashup initiatives do not culturally transform the company in terms of org structure & collaboration, they are bound to fail immediately.

As I have written a comment in Anne’s post, these projects to take off and provide real business value, it requires change agents in the company. And IT architects/ consultants and Project Managers do not have enough credibility or skills in performing the role of change agents and that’s where the root cause of the problem lies. To perform real changes, it requires a leader who understands the potential of SOA/BI projects, articulates effectively to stakeholders and persuades the people to buy it for their goodness. And that’s not easy!. And that is typically thankless job!

Some of the similarities I could list:
1. SOA deals with owenership of services. BI has to deal with Ownership of data. When the projects need to deal with multiple owners for a single initiative where they have no immediate benefits, there is a challenge
2. Semantics is important to SOA. Data Quality and Semantics are both important to BI projects. Both cannot be achieved easily / automated easily and requires peoples’ knowledge and collaboration.
3. Both initiatives require Strong Governance processes
4. Both the initiatives have challenges in terms of defining the ROI and achieving it pragmatically.
And there could be few more…

No comments: