SOA experts: Learn to speak business

The next major hurdle for enterprise architecture is convincing agency managers that it solves business problems

For service-oriented architecture to succeed, information technology professionals must 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 March 27 at a breakfast hosted by the Bethesda, Md., chapter of AFCEA International, a panel of federal officials emphasized the importance of this type of communication.

Avi Bender, director of enterprise architecture at the Treasury Department, said any discussion about SOA should take place in the context of a business unit’s needs.

“It has to be in the background,” he said.

Potential beneficiaries of SOA won’t ask about the technological innovations or the fundamental structure of the system, said Carolyn Sanders, chief enterprise architect and chief technology officer at the Citizenship and Immigration Services Agency.

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, CTO at the Interior Department’s National Business Center. “There’s too much jargon.”

Speaking to an audience comprised 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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