The Service Oriented Architecture (SOA): The Key to Recontextualizing the Knowledge Worker for the Conceptual Age

Consider the following snippet from Cloninger’s book:

In his book A Whole New Mind, author and business consultant Daniel Pink proposes that we are transitioning from the information age into the “conceptual age” … According to Pink, three forces – abundance, Asia and automation – are currently displacing the knowledge worker. In time, mere software skills will become increasingly less valuable than the conceptual ability to recognize what works and what doesn’t.

As a knowledge worker, I’m concerned about being displaced.

And even though I’m at the earliest of stages of internalizing Pink’s message allow me to suggest, that if Pink is correct, this shift underscores the value of the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).

Thomas Erl defines a SOA as follows:

Contemporary SOA represents an open, extensible, federated, composable architecture that promotes service-orientation and is comprised of autonomous, QoS-capable, vendor diverse, interoperable, discoverable, and potentially reusable services, implemented as Web services.

SOA can establish an abstraction of business logic and technology, resulting in a loose coupling between these domains.

SOA is an evolution of past platforms, preserving successful characteristics of traditional architectures, and bringing with it distinct principles that foster service-orientation in support of a service-oriented enterprise.

SOA is ideally standardized throughout an enterprise, but achieving this state requires a planned transition and the support of a still evolving technology set.

With the exception of the explicit reference to Web Services, Erl emphasizes SOAs from a conceptual perspective.

Taking Pink and Erl together then, it is more important to possess the conceptual ability to understand what works and what doesn’t from a SOA perspective, than the software skills to actually implement a SOA solution.

Also at this early stage, it’s interesting to speculate on Pink’s three forces and SOAs:

  • Abundance – SOAs are experiencing significant uptake. Why? SOA-based solutions address needs. These needs and corresponding adoption of SOAs have resulted in an abundance force.
  • Asia – As the World Wide Web leveled the playing field for document-oriented interactions, SOAs are doing the same for the programmatic-oriented second generation Web (Web 2.0). Such a service-oriented paradigm means that the burgeoning development community in Asia (the Asian force) is as likely to contribute to SOAs as anyone elsewhere on the planet.
  • Automation – As is evident from Erl’s definition (above), automation is a key benefit of a SOA. However, it’s automation that allows for business processes to be completely re-engineered, not merely accelerated. This results in an automation force.

Even though highly speculative at this point, it’s fairly clear that the three forces driving Pink’s predicted shift into the conceptual age are not entirely at odds with Erl’s notion of a SOA.

Thus understanding SOAs via books, courses, etc., would appear prudent for all of us to-be-displaced knowledge workers.

Note-to-self: Read Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind.

1 thought on “The Service Oriented Architecture (SOA): The Key to Recontextualizing the Knowledge Worker for the Conceptual Age

  1. Pingback: The MFA is the New MBA: Illustrations by Steve Jobs and Apple « Ian Lumb’s Blog

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