Implementation of service-oriented architecture (SOA) is on the rise, reports the Yankee Group. The consultancy\u2019s survey of 306 U.S. IT executives found that 84 percent had an SOA project or would be starting one within the next year.\n\nSOA is an approach to software design that promotes the development and integration of reusable components that are based on elements of a business process. For example, if the elements of a business process required for customers to order a product online (such as checking inventory, looking up the customer record, checking credit) reside on different systems, writing each component as a service allows the speedy integration and delivery of the information needed to complete the transaction. Because services can be changed without affecting users, SOA reduces development time, lowers costs and allows business processes to be reconfigured easily.Because of the cost savings, the best areas to start applying SOA are those with the most impact on the bottom line, says Tom Dwyer, research director with the Yankee Group. He adds that for most companies surveyed, these areas are customer-facing business processes, which affect revenue most directly.Among respondents that have already implemented SOA projects, most targeted customer-facing websites or portals (30 percent) and help desk and customer support applications (29 percent). But the future belongs to internal integration. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they are evaluating or currently deploying SOA projects to integrate internal business applications, and 72 percent were looking into or currently implementing it to aggregate data and content.