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Nancy Feig
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Pursuing the Promise of SOA

Though service-oriented architectures have the potential to improve IT integration and business agility, the lack of standards is hindering widespread adoption of the strategy in banking. But that's not stopping some institutions from pursuing the promise of SOA.

SOA 2.0

According to An, banks are starting to look beyond current applications of SOA to future implementations, specifically, how they can integrate Web 2.0 with SOA. Although it's in the very early stages, "A number of [banking] customers have asked for these capabilities," he says, noting that IBM's Multichannel Branch Transformation Tool, which was released in May, comes equipped with Web 2.0 capabilities. An points to employee communication across branch offices and teller systems, and more-dynamic customer interaction and content generation, as two areas where the integration of Web 2.0 tools and SOA principles could really help banks.

SAP's von Hollen says that while the early buzz on SOA was around customer data consolidation to achieve a single view of the customer across the bank and front-office transformation, more and more she's hearing about SOA leveraged for core office functions and back-office transformation. "SAP talks about enterprise SOA as a way to add substance to what the applications do," she says. "We talk about business process transformation -- taking a look at the business process and saying, 'How can we streamline this to make it better?'"

Still, Microsoft's Jackson cautions banks against getting ahead of themselves in terms of SOA's ability to transform the business. "Despite all the hype, we are still in the early stages of SOA for banking," he says. "Like any new technology, the results are mixed. A number of industry articles question the ROI [return on investment] for SOA efforts."

But, Jackson insists, the potential of SOA, such as squeezing increased value out of legacy systems, is obvious. The problem, he adds, is getting there.

"The buzz I'm hearing is around managing the complexity of the overall organizational effort," Jackson says. "It requires collaboration on all levels." But the banks that can achieve that collaboration, he suggests, will secure a competitive advantage.

Building a successful service-oriented architecture starts with a solid plan

Finding SOA IT talent can be a challenge

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