• Applying SOA in Business Process Re-Engineering

    With several business constraints and fear of the unknown plaguing lots of organizations that are in obvious dire need of technology-inspired business process re-engineering, it's not too often you get to read of organizations taking the all-important leap into changing how they carry out business, thus profiting from the enormous benefits a well implemented technology-driven BPR brings with it.

    So, I was greatly excited when I read the news about what the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is looking to achieve with their "single-view data services" project. It will be fair to state that this is no doubt a very ambitious project, not least the security of clients' personal and sensitive data and compliance with various UK and EU laws around how such data is managed and accessed. There's a need to find the ever-so-delicate balance between accessibility, usability, availability, adaptability, scalability, security and compliance when building such a solution.

    I must mention that one of the primary objectives of embarking on such a project is not merely providing employees with visibility to customers' data but allowing employees make informed decisions based on applicable business rules in the context of whatever business matters (mortgage, savings, investment, etc.) they could be dealing with at the time. This is not necessarily a re-design of how business is done but a re-engineering of how business processes are adhered to, achieving greater consistency and conformance to business rules at the front and middle offices.

    Achieving a successful implemention and roll-out of such an ambitious project is much more possible and feasible today, special thanks to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).

    The diagram above illustrates a high level architecture of a possible solution. The data source contains multiple, varied, disparate and disconnected data sources. The primary business logic that manages interaction with the data source block is the configurable, datasource-agnostic data access and abstraction block. The data service block is accessed by varied, technology-specific client applications. The data that flows throughout the model is in XML format and this allows the model to support infinite number of data sources and client applications (of course the impact of this on performance should be considered). Organizations are able to utilize all available information and business intelligence to achieve cross-sell and up-sell across all businesses and divisions.

    Whether the news about customers of NatWest (a part of the RBS group) being denied access to their bank accounts has anything to do with the deployed solution (directly or remotely) is yet to be established but it should be stated that; like every good IT solution idea and concept; poor implementation can really make even the best of solutions a total disaster for business.


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