the term &quot;multi-channel&quot; is used in different ways - sometimes referring to multiple business channels (e.g. partners versus direct sales) and sometimes to multiple communications channels (e.g. phone versus internet)
As an organization extends into more ambitious multi-channel arrangements, the potential value it can get from SOA (and from more mature SOA) is increased. Think Dell, moving from multi-channel communications into multi-channel business partners
Our framework also includes merger and acquisition, which is just another special case of multi-channel. (Think RBS, running the two retail banking brands RBS and NatWest as two &quot;channels&quot; with consolidated support systems.)
Multi-channel is often viewed as mostly a technology issue where gradual and unplanned introduction of new customer facing technologies has led to disparate solutions, business processes and supporting information data. The separate development of call center and eCommerce channels everywhere is a good example. We can see widespread evidence of the results from personal experience with different information and prices between one company’s call center and eCommerce site. Or manifestly different processes and charges between branch, ATM, and kiosk systems. But it can be helpful to scope multi-channel more broadly than purely technology channels because the same issues can occur in many different contexts. On this slide we suggest a number of channel types that all follow the same pattern of channel specific behaviors combined with common behaviors that cross channel and in many cases opportunities to enhance business models with cross channel coordination or switching. Developing a clear understanding of these for a specific enterprise of ecosystem is a prerequisite for effective architecture. The Delivery or Interface is always going to be the most obvious driver, usually driven by technology. However channel is also likely to be characterized by class of consumer or product class such as enterprise, SME, retail consumer etc. But channel thinking shouldn’t be restricted to enterprise systems, it’s also useful in government where citizen or intra government processes will exhibit all the same issues and opportunities. Business channel is obvious. In the Dell based case study this is clearly a major consideration, and Dell reported the business value of a specialized third party partner channel that achieved considerable pull through business by facilitating real time integration with partner bid and deal processes. Type of pricing mechanism is clearly another major source of complexity. Pricing is not usually regarded as a kind of “channel”, but it has a lot of the same structural characteristics. Consider how much consideration is given when designing the support for the eCommerce channel to creating integration with other pricing mechanisms. Product delivery technology also has a big impact on channels. The current uptake of SaaS and On Demand services will inevitably be creating new demand for channel support systems. And of course the answer is that in the initial stages new management systems are developed for the new delivery systems, and only after the fact is consideration given to integration. This is particularly true of SaaS, and we can expect that enterprise uptake of SaaS will be cautious and slow until the SaaS delivery channel is properly integrated with service management, help desk and support and security systems.
SOA for Multi-Channel Business
Independent Guidance for
Service Architecture and Engineering
SOA for MultiChannel