Innovation Sucks Unless… You Have the Right Building Blocks


Driving innovation at enterprises has always been a tremendous challenge.  There’s always hard to extend legacy systems, disparate systems to be integrated and monolithic applications to be changed. Doing so is painstaking and time consuming work, but the business side of the house is nevertheless focused on seeing immediate return on investments. Exacerbating this situation is the fact that there’s one too many ‘best practices’ to go around making it confusing as to what approach is expected to work for you and your organization.

But is there any getting away from this situation?

The stark reality is that in an uncertain global economy, constant innovation is central for businesses that want to survive and stay competitive. Add to the mix the game changing innovation in personal technology that we have witnessed in the last couple of years. There’s an app for virtually everything, smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous and we are increasingly consuming services in the cloud that has transformed entire industries.

Businesses today are looking at exposing internal capabilities and data via APIs as a new distribution channel for their products and services. They want to adopt the latest capabilities quickly with cloud-based solutions for marketing, sales and human resources that are seamlessly integrated with core enterprise systems. And they want new mobile apps supported on both official and personal devices to empower employees and reach their customers.

What does this mean to you, as an IT leader who is responsible for driving innovation?

It’s time for a comprehensive application strategy that can meet today’s demands for innovation and is well positioned to meet ongoing demands in the future. That means your entire application landscape should be built on a foundation that exposes the needed business capabilities to build new applications and allows rapid changes in the future. Taking a service-oriented approach (SOA) to your application architecture is the foundation for a sustainable innovative future. Customers in various industries have taken this approach with great success, here are just a few examples.

  • Avnet is one of the world’s largest distributors of electronic components with over $25B in annual revenue and 100,000 customers. Over 70 acquisitions in 20 years that required integrating disparate applications running on multiple platforms created the urgency for IT to innovate. By adopting SOA along with end-to-end governance, they increased reuse going from 800 services to 111 interfaces, invoked 6M times a month! Avnet not only reduced development time by 55% but also significantly accelerated integration of new acquisitions.
  • Endo Pharmaceuticals creates high-value branded products that meet the unmet needs of patients along care pathways for pain, urology, oncology and endocrinology. Their challenge was to integrate a cloud-based HR solution – Workday and synchronize data for 1500 employees to no less than 18 downstream systems. The company used an SOA infrastructure to integrate with Workday API using Pub Sub model for consistent distribution of data. They also established a governance framework to track data from system to system and guarantee security of personal information – critical for compliance reasons and key to success of the entire project. In the process, Endo reduced the time to complete the business process by 70% while increasing accuracy and lowering costs.
  • BOK Financial Corporation  is a $27 billion regional financial services company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. BOKF, NA has full-service banks located in eight states while BOSC, Inc., the broker/dealer subsidiary, provides brokerage services in 10 states. They started on their SOA journey in 2007 establishing an SOA governance committee along the way. In 2010, when they were asked to build a mobile solution with a full set of customer features and a high degree of quality, and speed. They completed the entire project in just four months crediting their architectural design for allowing quick development.

What was common in the approach among these very different companies?

These companies indeed had the right building blocks to establish an SOA and accelerate innovation. These building blocks are software tools to build an SOA infrastructure such that they SOA Building Blocks

  • Are easy to adapt and build upon based on open standards to readily integrate with your existing systems and offer easy customization to suit your specific needs.
  • Integrate tightly to eliminate duplicate work, keeping various development and deployment artifacts in sync, increasing automation which helps speed up time-to-value.
  • Enable strong governance for service visibility, monitoring and metrics, and for ensuring security and other quality-of-service (QoS) requirements.
  • Come with world-class expertise that provides methodology and advice customized for your organization and objectives to ensure successful implementation.

These innovative companies are hardly isolated examples. With the right building blocks,  you and your organization can also un-suck excel at innovation!  Just get the right building blocks! Check out this interesting Infographic on this topic.

About Navdeep Sidhu

Navdeep Sidhu has written 38 posts in this blog.

Navdeep Sidhu is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Software AG, he focuses on webMethods Integration platform. Prior to Software AG, he was with Sterling Commerce (now IBM) where he was Sr. Product Manager focusing on B2B Gateways and Partner Community Management. Prior to joining Sterling Commerce, he spent over 7 years with Deloitte Consulting managing large scale application development and integration projects.

Leave a Reply