Joe McKendrick had an interesting post today - ‘Whole-brained’ enterprises need SOA: here are the numbers to prove it where he discussed a report from the BTM Institute on Business Technology Convergence (PDF here). While I agree with much of what is said, I do worry that it is not enough for data to become information (something the report highlights), it must lead to better decisions to be useful. Perhaps that should be the definition of information - data that leads to better decisions. Anyway, I think a whole brained enterprise needs systems that are smart enough to make good decisions (someone should write a book about smart (enough) systems) not just what the report calls an "enterprise-wide automated system that facilitates decision making" (emphasis mine).
The report, which is worth reading, talked about companies that "used automation to facilitate decision-making and management" and this is clearly a worthy aim. However, if (on their scale of business/technology convergence), "managed" is level 4 and "optimized" is level 5, then attaining level 5 is going to require automated decision-making in any real-time, reasonably large organization. Interestingly, all the example companies are ones who have focused on critical decisions, often micro decisions, and automated them in a way that gives them alignment and flexibility and let's them use their data effectively by embedding analytics. By using enterprise decision management (EDM), in other words. The use of EDM to build decision services, in particular, will also align you with the valid points Joe makes about SOA.
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