I have worked with several organisations in the last year who have decided to build – or in one case in-source – their service integration function.  Some immediate attractions of doing this are clear.

  • Service integration is not mature; there is no standard model (although in the UK the Cabinet Office one seems to be emerging as such) and so there is an argument for designing your own
  • There are concerns that outsourcing service integration places too much data – and thus potentially power – into the hands of a supplier. This argument is even stronger if that supplier is also delivering one or more towers.
  • Organisations are also wary of being locked into a particular service integration supplier as their solution will tend to be tightly coupled to their own tool-set.

There are of course counter-arguments for all of these.  Using an existing model will be quicker and carry less risk.  Proper commercial constructs will remove the issue of data leakage and manipulation and the lock-in situation is no different from any other outsourced arrangement.

Nevertheless, whether or not these are valid in a particular case, there is an underlying reality that cannot be ignored.  An in-house IT organisation will almost certainly have no experience of designing, building or operating such a capability.  This is not because there are not skilled and capable people in the organisation;  its just that they haven’t done it before.  Given sufficient time and resources they will probably come up with something workable.  Whether it would be cost-effective is a different matter.

Service integration is a complex area, combining as it does the disciplines of service management, technical tools integration, supplier eco-system management and organisational change. 

This is why there is an increasing demand for organisations who can design, build and transfer or design, build, operate and transfer your service integration capability.  A co-consulting approach using joint teams of client and supplier staff will result in a knowledge and skills transfer that will support the organisation going forward.   When coupled with the emerging ‘Service Integration as a Service’ pre-integrated tools offers this will remain an attractive proposition for many organisation.