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  • Gervas Douglas
    The SOA Talent Squeeze ZapFlash By Jason Bloomberg Document ID: ZAPFLASH-12012004 | Document Type: ZapFlash As 2004 winds down, the Service Orientation (SO)
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2004
      The SOA Talent Squeeze ZapFlash

      By Jason Bloomberg
      Document ID: ZAPFLASH-12012004 | Document Type: ZapFlash

      As 2004 winds down, the Service Orientation (SO) winds are shifting.
      SO software and hardware vendors' markets are consolidating, as
      surviving players mature their products and build traction among
      customers who increasingly understand the value of Service-Oriented
      Architecture (SOA) to their organizations. While IT end-users focused
      their attention on Web Services and SOA products and the vendors who
      offered them up to this point in time, their attention is now moving
      to professional services organizations (PSOs) as these consulting
      firms ramp up their SOA practices. This shift in activity marks an
      important step in the maturation of SO adoption within enterprises:
      ZapThink has seen that while most of the Fortune 500 was dabbling with
      SOA in 2004, 2005 is the year that many will ramp up their SOA
      initiatives, in many cases to cross-departmental and
      cross-organizational projects, and in some instances to
      enterprise-wide implementations. Even enterprises with large IT shops
      realize that they cannot scale a new architectural approach without
      skilled outside help -- and thus, 2005 will be the year of the SOA

      ZapThink, therefore, predicts a dramatic surge in the demand for SOA
      consulting in 2005, which heralds a challenging time for the PSO
      business reminiscent of the late 1990s. In a fundamental way, SOA
      consulting offers much of what '90s eBusiness consulting promised, but
      never delivered. The obvious question, then, is whether we can avoid
      the same flameout that marked the end of the last technology buildout.
      There are clearly some basic differences this time around -- no stock
      market bubble, no Y2K, no "new economy" -- but two aspects of the SO
      buildout echo the 1990s: first, an evolution in technology heralds
      broad business transformation, and second, we'll need more consultants
      than are available to make it happen.

      What is an SOA Consultant?
      SOA consultants can offer a range of different core competencies.
      ZapThink believes that the most critical SOA consultant is the SO
      architect, whose expertise is much like that of the enterprise
      architect ZapThink discussed in an earlier ZapFlash. While SOA
      architect consultants have somewhat different responsibilities from
      their end-user peers, these consultants must have the same broad
      understanding of both business requirements and technology
      implementation. Depending on the focus of the practice they belong to,
      they may require deep vertical industry knowledge. But in all
      instances, SO architects must have significant understanding of how to
      meet continually changing business requirements through business
      processes consisting of composable, loosely-coupled Services.

      While SO architects help companies implement SOA to meet current and
      evolving business needs, business transformation consultants are also
      essential. Companies are now realizing that implementing SOA means far
      more than a simple reorganization of application resources. After all,
      SOA is not simply about taking existing systems, wrapping them in
      standards-based interfaces, and connecting them together in the sort
      of tightly-coupled, inflexible manner that some EAI vendors still
      espouse. The broad, business-based movement to SO, more so than the
      technical implementation of SOA, should lead to the ability for
      companies to undertake broad reorganizations of their business based
      upon how they leverage IT assets across the enterprise. As a result,
      business transformation consultants versed in helping their clients
      handle the broad human change issues necessary to transform their
      business are every bit as essential to enterprise SOA deployments as
      architects are.

      SO Business Transformation: The New Management Consulting
      Management consultants who offer business transformation consulting
      must add a new set of skills to their existing set of capabilities in
      order to fully leverage the changes that SO can bring to their
      clients. From the perspective of the business, SO provides a new
      immediacy between IT capabilities and the needs of the organization.
      For example, for companies striving to build the infrastructure
      necessary to meet the demands of regulations such as Sarbanes Oxley,
      the PATRIOT Act, or Basel II, management consultants must understand
      the Services their clients require in order to provide the visibility
      and control that company executives need to comply with such
      regulations. Management consultants can no longer base their work
      entirely on management formulas learned in business school. Instead,
      SOA brings IT into the management consultant's toolbox in a way that
      it never has been before.

      The paragraph above may give you a case of déjà vu, since a closer
      relationship between business and IT consulting was also what
      eBusiness consulting promised back in the 1990's. During those heady
      days, eBusiness consulting firms (aka "I-Builders") like marchFIRST,
      Scient, and iXL espoused a new era of business marked by the
      incorporation of the Internet into every facet of the workings of
      companies. They attempted to combine business strategy and technology
      (as well as creative) in what turned out to be a spectacular act of
      hubris, as these firms became the most dramatic flameouts of the
      dot.com crash.

      Déjà Vu All Over Again?
      As with the I-Builders, it is the pending shortage of SOA consultants
      that puts the SO buildout most at risk. After all, where will all
      these new consultants come from -- both the architects as well as the
      business transformation specialists? Companies aren't simply looking
      for bodies that they can train -- firms require real-world expertise
      in how to build SOA to meet continuously changing business
      requirements. Rather than looking to develop the necessary skills from
      scratch in their existing IT talent pool, enterprises should seek the
      help of PSOs that have been building SO talent over the past few
      years. Most large PSOs are currently building their SOA practices,
      which in large part means training consultants on SOA. Some of the
      early entrants in to this market have already had SOA consultants on
      the ground for a good year now, and these firms are sitting pretty as
      they enter 2005.

      In addition to the big consulting firms, there are also a raft of
      smaller players who are focusing their efforts on SOA. Many of these
      firms have already had an architectural focus, and as such, adding SOA
      capabilities isn't much of a stretch for them. For small and mid-sized
      consulting firms with a business-only focus, however, SO remains
      mostly an alien concept. These firms may understand in general how IT
      impacts business, but they have no concept of how SO will
      significantly alter the business landscape. As a result, large IT
      consulting firms that also offer management consulting may erode the
      business of the smaller business consulting firms, and as such, are in
      the best position to offer the type of business transformation
      capabilities that the transition to SO will require.

      The ZapThink Take
      Even though consulting firms large and small are building SOA teams,
      the number of consultants they are training or putting into early SOA
      engagements is far less than the number that enterprises will require
      in the coming year to two years. There will be movement between small
      and large firms, as well as recruiting from industry, but there will
      also be a trend among consultants to leave their firms and work
      directly for enterprises. As a result, there will be a talent squeeze
      that will drive up the rates of the more experienced consultants, and
      drive down the quality of the average consultant, as large numbers of
      inexperienced and poorly trained consultants chase the rapidly
      growing, newly available opportunities. Just as with the dot.com
      buildout, the shortage of consultants may seriously impact companies'
      ability to execute the business transformation they require, and may
      degrade the overall quality of SOA implementations.

      Therefore, if you're a software architect or an IT-savvy business
      consultant, you have the potential to be in the catbird seat, and now
      is the time to get practical experience with SOA. Without it, you risk
      replacement by more savvy and knowledgeable counterparts. With SO
      skills, however, you can potentially capture a rapidly growing
      opportunity within end-user and PSO architecture groups. PSOs that
      want to offer SOA to their clients should already have their SOA
      practice in development, and should already be training their staff,
      otherwise, they risk rapidly becoming overtaken by the new class of
      SO-savvy PSO firm. Enterprises that have SOA-savvy personnel should
      nurture, grow, and encourage them, because the lucrative offers for
      their talent will be coming soon. Whatever you do, don't be caught by
      the SOA talent squeeze coming in 2005.
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