Service oriented architectures are touted as a way to grow revenues because of their flexible application architectures, but investments in the technology are mainly justified for cost saving reasons, according to IBM.
Steve Mills, senior vice president of software at Big Blue, told delegates at the company's Impact 2007 conference in Orlando: "Over the past four years we have seen a clear IT value from SOA.
"It is hard to look ahead and see business value, but it is often very clear if you look at technology value."
SOAs offer a platform to develop and deploy componentised applications, allowing firms to build a capability such as single sign-on or currency conversion and reuse it across several applications.
Having componentised building blocks also makes it easier to craft software, allowing for frequent changes as the business requires them.
An IBM survey among customers of its SOA platform indicated that nearly all had achieved IT cost savings and improved development time. But only half said that they saw an increase in revenues.
Robert LeBlanc, general manager for IBM Global Services, warned against overlooking business processes. If applications are not build to align with processes, it undermines SOA's main benefits.
"There are still a lot of clients that really do not understand their underlying business process," he said.
"Or when they map their business process, and map their underlying it structure, they do not match. The impediment of mismatch is extremely high."
IBM pitched its services organisation as a way to help overcome the mismatch between IT and business focus in adopting SOAs.
The company also unveiled nine ready-made composite business services that p erform common tasks such as combining rate quotes from several insurance providers for agents selling policies.
"We will give you more tools that allow you to identify the business impact and to calculate and commit return on investment for SOA investment," said LeBlanc.
"We are helping you to take this capability to the next level and justify it within your companies."
The company also released a 3D video game that helps business people build more efficient business processes.
The Innov8 game uses 3D environments similar to those found in Second Life. It aims to break down barriers between business and IT people.
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