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SOA – A Revolution in making -“Programming to Modeling”

When a 10 year school going kid of today’s generation is given a homework project on Solar System, the kid instead of going to the library and researching through multiple books on Astronomy, switches on the computer and logs on to the internet & uses the search engine and finally organizes the downloaded information and all this in an extremely small amount of time.   Did this child of today’s generation need a special training on use of computer, or understanding the concept of internet or the concept of search engine like Google? The answer is pretty simple to me “No, no special training or skill is required” since all these IT things like using a computer or browsing the internet have evolved and become akin to learning one’s mother tongue or like a process of social interaction. IT in general or Computer & Internet in specific have become an integral part of one’s growing-up.   However using a computer or logging on to internet was not so easy sometime back!! Then what has brought about this change or what has contributed to such a revolutionary change, that this new generation kid does not need any training to use such advanced and sophisticated tools to accomplish simple tasks?   In my view this evolution has a lot to do with the way IT has progressed with its deeper reach to the common man. Then my thoughts lead me to believe that “ease of interactivity” with computer is the single most factor that brought about this revolution. Interactivity with computer has changed dramatically from computer being a black box and interactivity through the programming script that only a highly skilled programmer understand and appreciates, to an extremely interesting & contextual interactivity. The interactivity has even extended to entertainment or as it is coined as “infotainment”.   Having shared an apparently un-connected and generic context, I would like you to contrast it, to the evolution of IT in business, more specifically the IT support to business processes.   Let me amplify this evolution. Before the concept of “configuration”, the only mode of enabling a business process using IT, was to convert the business process requirement into an algorithm and then converting the logic to a “program” coded in a language like COBOL.    To my awareness, SAP revolutionized this when they brought in the concept of “configuration” where a business process was IT enabled by using various selections between options and the program-code was generated by the system at the back-end. This was a big leap in the direction of reducing the programming efforts. Incidentally, this also influenced on the standardization on business processes by bringing in the paradigm of “Best Practices”.   This state of evolution however was far from reaching a state to making it easy for a business process expert to design and model a new process or re-model the existing one without “consulting” expertise.   This state of evolution needed to overcome two major limitations; first limitation of a ‘system boundary’ since configuration was limited to a single solution or application, in this case SAP. And, second, the need of “consulting” expertise or those special Skills on configuration of an application or solution. It is a common knowledge that most enterprises have more than one systems and applications and normally needed to engage a consulting firm to replicate their process needs into those system and applications.  A major step to overcome the first limitation mentioned above in dealing with cross solution & application was dealt by SAP in early part of this millennium specifically in 2003 when they introduced the SAP Netweaver® platform where inter-system operability was introduced and since then this platform has witnessed inter-operability with scores of solutions and applications.   However with launch of “Service Oriented Architecture” framework there is a paradigm shift. It is revolutionizing the way IT will serve business. According to me, it is a history in making. The Visual Composer is enabling the Business Process expert to model the process as per the need without having to know much about the system or application serving it in the background and modeling is done on an interesting graphical interface. To put it in other words it is a matter of time that the whole process will  become so easy that a business process expert is able to model the process using services from the available list as per the need and within an extremely short time and the process is seamlessly flowing across multiple systems and applications, and all this without having to undertake any special training.  With over 500 services released in SAP Netweaver® 2004s, the revolution is truly evident. IT enablement to business process is now taking that leap from configuration to modeling. And it needs no special acumen to predict that this process of evolution will gather momentum with “ease of interactivity” offered by Visual Composer.   This evolution of configuration to modeling would also bring about fundamental shifts within the ecosystems, both the IT and the business. Within the IT industry, there will be shifts such as; Collaboration with the Industry Experts to provide the services for instance “Order to Cash” or   “Hire to Retire” OR Re-Skilling of the current consulting resources with business process knowledge OR Shaping the software development to align with the framework for inter-operability and so on. And on the business side I visualize that Service Oriented Architecture will influence the way businesses are transacted; Differentiations would be enabled by IT, Speed of business processes would realize the “At the speed of thought” philosophy and lastly even the agility at which competitors catch up will change and all this would make IT more valuable to the business than ever before. 
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