Rick Beers is Senior Director of Product Management for Oracle Fusion
Middleware. Prior to joining Oracle, Rick held a variety of executive
operational positions at Corning, Inc. and Bausch & Lomb.
professional background that includes senior management positions in
manufacturing, supply chain and information technology, Rick brings a unique
set of experiences to cover the impact that technology can have on business
models, processes and organizations. Rick will be hosting the IT Leader
Editorial on a regular basis.
I met my twin at Open World. We share backgrounds, experiences and
I hosted an invitation-only
AppAdvantage Leadership Forum with an overcapacity - 85 participants: 55
customers, 15 from the Oracle AppAdvantage team and 15 Partners. It was a
lively, open and positive discussion of pace layered architectures and
approach to a unified view of Applications and Middleware. Rick Hassman from
Pella was one of the customer panelists and during the pre event prep, Rick
and I shared backgrounds and found that we had both been plant managers and
led ERP deployments prior to leading IT itself. During the panel conversation
I explored this with him, discussing the unique perspectives that this
provides to CIO’s. He then hit on a point that I wasn’t able to fully
appreciate until a week later.
First though, some background.
The week after the Forum, one of the participants emailed me with the
following thoughts: “I am 150% behind this concept……but we are struggling
with the concept of web services and the potential use of the Oracle Service
Bus technology let alone moving into using the full SOA/BPM/BAM software to
extend our JD Edwards application to both integrate and support business
processes”. After thinking a bit I responded this way:
While I certainly
appreciate the degree of change and effort involved, perhaps I could offer
- One of the
underlying principles behind Oracle AppAdvantage is that more often than
not, the choice between changing a business process and invasively
customizing ERP represents a Hobson's Choice: neither is acceptable. In
this case the third option, moving the process out of ERP, is the only
- Providing this
choice typically requires end to end, real time interoperability across
applications and/or services.
- This real time
interoperability, to be sustainable over time requires a service
oriented architecture. There's just no way around this.
- SOA adaptation
is admittedly tough at the beginning. New skills, new technology and new
headaches. But, like any radically new technology, it has a learning
curve that drives cost down rather dramatically over time.
- Tough choices
to be sure, but not entirely different than we face with every major
Good points of course, but I
felt that something was missing. The points were convincing, perhaps even a
bit insightful, but they didn’t get at the heart of what Oracle AppAdvantage
is focused upon: how the optimization of technology, applications, processes
and relationships can change the very way that organizations operate. And
then I thought back to the panel discussion with Rick Hassman at Oracle
Rick stressed that Continuous
Improvement is a fundamental business strategy at Pella. I
remember Continuous Improvement well as I suspect does everyone who was in
American manufacturing during the 80’s. Pioneered by W. Edwards Deming in
Japan (and still known alternatively as Kaizen),
Continuous Improvement sets in place the business culture that we must not
become complacent with success and resistant to the ongoing need for change.
Many believe that this single handedly drove the renaissance in American
manufacturing through the last two decades, which had become complacent
during the 70’s and early 80’s. But what exactly does this have to do with
SOA? It was Rick’s next point.
He drew the connection that
moving those business processes that need to continually change over time out
of ERP and into edge applications and services enables continuous improvement
by empowering people to continually strive for better ways of doing things
rather than be being bound by workflows that cannot change.
A compelling connection: that
SOA, and the overall Oracle AppAdvantage framework of which it is an integral
part, can empower people towards continuous improvement in business processes
and as a result drive business leadership and business excellence. What better
a case for technology innovation?