Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Business Value in a Service Oriented World

Having been in the field selling Web Services technology for 4.5 years now, I often get asked lots of questions about the "business value" of SOA and Web Services. Besides well known business services provided in a SO-World as Radovan and Roman discuss such as Google's value added business services, Orbitz, Amazon AWS, I've run across some additional practical examples that showcase the value of SOA in the real world recently:

1) Remote vs. Local Software - I just switched to a Blackberry, which uses Verizon's Data Service Network to transmit and receive e-mail. Having used a Sony Clie in the past + Bluetooth + locally installed software on the handheld (such as SnapperMail) - I can say that the Service Oriented model that Verizon and RIM have partnered to build is a welcome change. All software installed on the handheld is hosted and updated via a hosted, service based model. I called in and reported a bug in the RIM database/service book that was installed on the unit and without ever having to open a user manual or re-install software via a CD - all of the patches/updates were automatically pushed to my Blackberry and dynamically installed. The time and aggravation it saved me was an instant return on investment.

2) Bill Pay services - Many banks offer online bill pay services that are a facade to dozens if not hundreds of internal systems on the back-end. I recently signed up for a service called "Pay My Bills" from a company called PayTrust. What I really like about their model is that you can manage every financial touchpoint that you might have from one digital dashboard - *including* sending paper checks to anyone you wish. For example - if I need to pay a parking ticket in Boston - and I'm in California, I simply log in to PayTrust, enter the address to be mailed to, the recipient, and amount of the fine. Then (since I had the urge to inquire with the company on their "process") - using a pure Web Services architecture - a paper check gets created, printed, postage added and mailed - with the only human interaction being the person taking the checks to the mail carrier (and I'm sure that will be automated at some point as well!). For the $8.95 that I pay per month for this service - the benefits (no more stamps, envelopes, or most importantly *time* - spent with USPS sneakernet processes) far outweigh the costs.

Perhaps Roman's axiom was true :-)


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