You can view the evolution of technology…as the shift from process automation to practice enhancement. In the past couple of decades, the primary focus of IT investment certainly by large enterprises has been to automate and standardize the core operating processes of the business. The net result is, if you look at where the headcount of the enterprise is focused, it is on handling exceptions that get thrown out by the automated processes, and that can’t be handled by the rules or procedures that have been specified. The real opportunity for technology now is to help people to address the exceptions — it’s typically more than one person, and it involves finding the right people, bringing them together quickly, giving them the tools necessary to address the exception, and then, probably most importantly, to create a record of the exception-handling so that you can see patterns emerge of where these exceptions are occurring over time. That’s a huge opportunity for technology.
…One of the limitations we have seen of service-oriented architectures is that most of the investment and thinking around this has been very enterprise-centric. But if you look at where most of the exceptions emerge, they are in the business processes that span multiple enterprises — in supply-chain activities or customer relationship management, or the coordination of distribution channels or channel partners. That requires a very different lens for viewing IT architectures.