Core technology is important in the same way that plumbing is important. It defines the infrastructure upon which other services or processes can be built. I can’t do my laundry unless the pipes are there to get the water to the machine. SAP, however, has traditionally focused on the higher level. Business processes, to keep going with the analogy, are more akin to defining how to best do your laundry.
My mother has always complained, and rightfully so, about having our washer/dryer in the basement. When I visited them recently, we discussed their plans to remodel the house. One of her main requirements of the remodel would include putting the washer/dryer upstairs, directly off of the master bathroom/walk-in closet. Thus putting the washing of the clothes much closer to the actual place where the dirty clothes end up and the clean clothes need to go, thus optimizing the process of doing laundry.
SAP is in the business of helping businesses (households) run more efficiently. My focus at SAP has always been at the core technology layer, and my most recent role was to focus on the standardization of certain core technologies, e.g. WS-Addressing, WS-ReliableMessaging, etc. These specifications ultimately amount to a new way to do plumbing. SAP’s main concern should be that the pipes will allow them to do laundry the way they think it should be done, and it’s important to ensure that this is the case, but SAP’s primary focus should be on defining how to do laundry.
It is to that end that I have started to switch my focus away from the core technology layer. Queue the Jefferson’s, cause I’m ‘movin’ on up’ the stack to focus on things that more directly impact the business process. I wasn’t sure that my minor in business administration would qualify me as business process expert yet though, so I focused on just moving up one rung on the ladder. Real world awareness and sensor networks, such as RFID, are technical enough that I’ll feel comfortable but will ultimately have a tremendous impact on business processes and enterprise applications.
RFID standards are going to be more than a full time job for me going forward, and I’m therefore starting to phase out my activities in other groups. WS-Addressing coming soon to a store near you is on auto-pilot and almost finished, and I think I can hold on in WS-ReliableMessaging if it stays on target to finish in June. I’ve written my last blog on the WS-I Sample App Blog Series: Basic Design Decisions and have now handed the pen over to Martin to finish up the series.
It’s been a pleasure to work with all of the great people in the web services world, but the time has come to shift my focus. I’m sure I will keep abreast of the developments of the industry, but as I switch my focus to managing SAP’s participation in EPCglobal, my attention to the details will necessarily diminish. On one hand it’s hard to leave the efforts that I’ve been a part of, but it’s comforting to know that I’m leaving them in good hands and I’m very excited to have my new focus. I have a lot to learn in the RFID space and I’ll be sure to share my learning here as I go.