Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Calling All Thought Leaders

I was giving heavy consideration this weekend to if I could step forward leaving a world full of slackers and sheep behind to answer the call of thought leadership. I am not referring simply to thoughts in general or extensive knowledge for that matter. If this were the case I would quickly make my way to the front if the topic for discussion were College Football, Gilmore Girls, or Jane Austin novels. As I mentioned however trivia buffs need not apply to this one because knowledge is meerly the first step in forward thinking.

This is the world I have found myself in as a technical recruiter for a provider of Service Oriented Enterprise consulting. Our practice managers have set the bar at gurus and evangelists and show no signs of adjusting the limbo poll. It gets really interesting when they add on a side of 75% travel, coupled with excellent communication, and spoon on some humility for good measure. Humble thought leader? I am checking now if Webster gives that phrase as an example under the over used word "oxymoron." I can confirm they don't.

So are these managers being unrealistic? I used to think so, but I have found some pretty close contenders. Service Oriented Architecture is doing amazing things to bridge the gap between business and technology services, but where I get excited is realizing the impact it is making on business and technology CANDIDATES. No longer are MBA's concerned solely with dollar signs and profitability and developers and architects are now right in the middle of a heated discussion concerning bugets and profitability. Hopefull this means there are less boardroom duals where 20 paces and two drawn pistols are what seperates business and technology from productivity. But how did we get here you ask?

I have thought quite a bit about what it was that caused these individuals to break out of their molds that college degrees had long cast. Perhaps Big Bang... or what some like to call the .com bust. Did the techies realize they needed to start placing eggs in other baskets in order to support their families and their new acquired expensive taste? What about the business and financial analysts? What got them to cross the boundaries of supply and demand into the unknown of C++ and Java? I have no idea. You tell me! I suppose that's what a blog is for.

Bottom Line... candidates continue to amaze and impress me. More amazing than anything are the number of candidates who give themselves a 10 out of possible 10 for SOA during my phone screens. I never realized there were so many "Fathers of SOA." For those of you who I have screened and are reading my blog wondering if you rated yourself 10, don't worry I more than likely gave you a 9 regardless of what you said to help your chances... that is if I liked you. In all seriousness I am encouraged by the quality of candidate I am seeing and look forward to the continued evolution of the IT candidate.

By the way if you're interested in applying for a job with MomentumSI we simply ask that you prove your membership in Mensa as well as provide us with a tape of your appearance on Jeopardy (don't bother unless you were atleast runner up).


Lon Pilot said...

I can certainly understand the reasoning behind so many candidates rating themselves “Father of SOA,” I know I did! The main reason is directly related to some of Jeff’s comments in his blog, here: CIO Paul Coby is Waiting for VHS is a good one. That being said, the defining difference, the separating of the Women from the Girls if you will, is going to be how well you can “sell” the idea of SOA to a client. Why you ask? Because the client understands the ideas behind SOA, especially if they’ve spent any time in the IT world, even if they don’t know SOA itself.

SOA is, in some ways, a repackaging of existing standards and concepts such as CORBA, RPC, and COM/DCOM. IT folks have heard the promises of CORBA, and seen them vanish in the mist. RPC is good for some things but not very good when the services are too remote, and COM/DCOM have issues of their own, not the least of which is interoperability with systems developed outside the Microsoft world.

So anyone who’s spent time in the IT world knows the background behind SOA and if all they hear is “It’s a new means of integrating systems” they’re likely to turn off pretty quickly. So how does SOA differ? Simply put, it’s the attitude.

SOA is about business not software. Where older integration technologies talk about software interfaces, SOA talks about business services thereby allowing the conversation to take place at a higher level where the MBA folks can feel comfortable. By defining the services from a business perspective the value can be more easily proven, thereby making SOA projects more prone to success. Another plus is the fact that the modeling of the services is useful regardless of the technology used to implement them. So when the next big thing comes along to replace web services the modeling exercise done to define the services from the business perspective will still be relevant.

So while many candidates may rate themselves SOA experts, the ones that will be successful as SOA consultants are likely the ones that have the attitude to back up the claim.

As to whether I have the chops to back up my claim, I leave that as an exercise for the reader ;)

Bethany Pirttima said...

Thanks Lon for being my first meaningful comment. I say meaningful because I had a guy respond to my blog soliciting his business to me, but gave no details about what his business is. Good strategy for someone selling something who anticipated a whole lot of objections. As you articulated, this would not be a stratgy for selling SOA because SOA flat out makes sense to businesses. The difficult part is the delivery and integration it seems... taking the old "chops" for a spin and see how they do.