Business and Technology, that strange couple
Before I move on, I have stumbled upon something that I find interesting to comment on. It’s about the curious relationship between business and technology, that strange couple (you’ll see why I say so). That way many organizations put more than their trust in technology of the moment, and how this impacts their own ability and agility to make their business evolve according to their needs and objectives at an appropriate cost.
Some time ago, browsing the press, I found a news that immediately caught my attention. That article dealt with a profession that seemed to be getting rid of the crisis, that of “SAP Consultant.” And I do not know what the intention was, but when choosing the headline of the article they chose this phrase: “When you marry with an SAP, it is for life.”
I will not comment on whether SAP is better or worse product, is not the purpose of this blog. That is a good product, there is no doubt, since it has so much penetration in the market. I think it is indisputable that either the product is very good or their sales managers are very good. Or both, of course.
What strikes me is that marriage. Basically it doesn’t matter if it’s SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, or whatever technology. The detail is in “for life”.
Calm down, I haven’t gone mad (at least no more than I already was). I have nothing against weddings. Except when that wedding is between an organization and a certain technology !. That is, no less, a clear anti-SOA pattern. This suggests to me the idea of devoting an entry to the anti-SOA patterns.
Continuing with the wedding, and again insisting that I have absolutely nothing against SAP or against any technology, one of the basic premises pursued by an SOA strategy is to achieve independence of technology (remember: SOA focuses on “how”, not “what”). This is where one of my favorite paradoxes comes when I explain SOA: it is about achieving the independence between business and technology, to make the technology align with the business and serve its objectives. And you will be with me in that this idea, instead of a marriage for the whole life, suggests a more open relationship and, if I may say, promiscuous, between the organization and its technologies. In plural.
That paradox means the following (it’s simple really): it’s about avoiding the spaghetti dish, right? And if we already have it on the table, it’s about cutting here and there, cleaning up and putting order. It is to avoid that the technological restrictions hurts business, or at least, to avoid that they condition it. It is possible that a technology is so powerful, complete and agile, that it does not weigh the business at all, but it can condition it. Although economically, even only in that sense, it can condition the feasibility of many projects, and therefore, the ability to achieve certain objectives, and therefore, the realistic establishment of those objectives. That is, condition the business.
To avoid this, the business must be independent of the technology, loose the chains and the bonds, whatever. The business must be able to set the course and speed regardless of any consideration related to the technology of the moment. It is true that economic conditioning will always be there, right. But keeping project costs low, it is more difficult for the budget to be a problem in setting and achieving organizational goals.
SOA favors a heterogeneous systems architecture, where different technologies can coexist (for some business areas, one technology may be better suited to others, and so on), they can coexist with older systems (thus protecting past investments and lengthening their ROI ), and obsessively seeks the use of standards and the decoupling between the systems that make up the systems map, which drastically reduces development costs, corrective maintenance and evolutionary maintenance. This results in a new scenario where technology is doing its job, each system performs its function, communicating events to the organization and consuming events of the organization that interest its function, and in this way when the organization sets its goals, the technology can respond with agility, quickly, with surgical precision, changing only what is necessary, without domino effects that incomprehensibly make projects more expensive.
So … I hope that the “marriageable” technologies cease to change and evolve so quickly … I hope they will last for many years … otherwise, I hope that when the end of their time arrives, all their partners – companies and Organizations – should better have enough cash. Because those divorces can be very expensive.