SOA experts: Learn to speak business

For service-oriented architecture to succeed, information technology professionals need to understand the business needs of their agencies' organizations and learn to talk about the benefits of SOA in business terms, say federal managers with recent experience.

Speaking this morning at a breakfast hosted by the Bethesda, Md., chapter of AFCEA International, a panel of federal officials emphasized the importance of this sort of communication.

Avi Bender, director of enterprise architecture at the Treasury Department, said any discussion about SOA needs to take place in the context of a business unit's needs. "It has to be in the background," he said.

Potential beneficiaries of SOA aren't going to ask about the technological innovations or the fundamental structure of the system, added Carolyn Sanders, chief enterprise architect and chief technology officer at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The question potential users always have is, "How does it help me do my job better?" she said.

"We don't emphasize enough the business," said Daud Santosa, chief technology officer at the Interior Department's National Business Center. "There's too much jargon."

Speaking to an audience primarily of contractors, panelists emphasized that vendors have the same factors in play. They, too, sell to customers who are impressed more by solved problems than by flashy technology.

"It's up to the vendors to not just sell us an order of widgets," Bender said.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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