• August 18, 2005
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

SOA Is Consulting's Bread and Butter

Service-oriented architecture is part of nearly every technology consulting engagement among the 17 leading professional services firms, according to an IDC study. "Worldwide SOA Professional Services Vendor Analysis" indicates that service firms, which pioneered SOA, are preparing to address a market opportunity that is both growing quickly and expanding, even as the approach to engagements changes. "SOA is becoming so ubiquitous that it is finding a place as a significant feature of every service that is being offered to customers" in consulting engagements, says Marianne Hedin, program manager for worldwide services research and coauthor of the report. According to Hedin, most of the surveyed service vendors indicated that SOA is a core element of their portfolios. This emphasis, along with the increase in scope and complexity of the engagements, leads IDC to conclude, "Partnerships are essential in order to successfully deploy SOA." The top clients for SOA deployments, according to the study, are financial services, government, healthcare, and retail. Organizations in these verticals and others have now moved on from pilot projects to rolling out departmental and company-wide implementations. But even as the SOA market matures, IDC finds that the people who are on the front lines of solution sales are changing. "The IT department is becoming less and less involved on its own as CEOs, line of business managers, and end users are increasingly involved in the sales process," Hedin says. "In addition, we see more and more cross-functional teams involving all of the above constituencies. The general mood is to involve all the key stakeholders." In response to the growing importance of SOA and Web services, consultancies plan to increase the number of skilled staff by 46 percent in 2005, through a combination of new hires and cross-training of existing personnel. The sorts of personnel required in 2005 are, in order of priority:
  • Architects
  • Business consultants (including domain, business process, and strategy experts)
  • Design consultants
  • Project managers
  • Applications development consultants
  • Legacy systems consultants
"There is no question that SOA offers a major growth opportunity for service vendors in all of their major service offerings, be they business or IT consulting. However, there are many roads that lead to an SOA engagement," Hedin says. "So in fact, we can conclude that there is [not yet] such a thing as a 'typical' SOA engagement." Related articles: Big Blue and Siebel Bolster Their SOA
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