So now that I’m back, we’re beginning work in earnest on my project. For those not following along at home, my project is to deliver shared service oriented infrastructure for Microsoft’s internal IT department. We’ve spent the time since I moved over working on our business justification, and now we’re moving into specifications and prototyping. That is, I get to starting getting my hands dirty.
As part of the prototyping efforts, we’re looking to build some sample business services on top of our prototype infrastructure. The idea being to both illustrate what we’re building as well as have a playground where we can experiment with new ideas. During the prototyping, I’ll be pretty involved with the development. But once we start writing production code, the dev team will take that over but I will continue to own the service playground. I’ve been kicking a playground idea like this around for several years, so I’m pretty excited about it.
The question is, what kind of business scenario should we build? I want the sample business services to be something interesting and real-world-esque. But of course, it can’t be too complex since I wasn’t hired to build a playground as my primary job function.
So far, we have two primary ideas:
- Enterprise Management System: AdventureWorks is the primary sample database that ships with SQL Server. They have business scenarios around Sales & Marketing, Product Management, Purchasing and Manufacturing. This sounds suspiciously like an ERP/CRM/SFA type enterprise system. On the plus side, MS is an enterprise so things like ERP/CRM/SFA are the types of solutions we need/use/buy/build internally. On the negative side, it’s complex to do real-world and teams that actually do ERP/CRM/SFA inside Microsoft might dismiss the infrastructure if the playground isn’t real-world enough.
- Prediction Market: If you’ve ever seen Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX) or Tradesports, those are prediction markets. The basic idea is that you trade on predictions, rather than companies like you would in a stock market. Using HSX as an example, you get 2 million “Hollywood Dollars” (i.e. play money) to invest in upcoming movies and / or movie stars. Those movies and stars pay out based on the money they make at the box office. They also have derivatives for opening weekend, blockbusters and the Oscars. HSX even sells forecasting and prediction services based on the HSX market. Of course, I can’t build something quite so extensive, but we could get pretty far with this idea. The upside is that it’s relatively simple (compared to enterprise management systems) and there’s little conflict with existing systems inside Microsoft. The downside also is that it’s relatively simple and not like anything we’re building inside Microsoft.
I’m leaning towards the prediction market, as it sounds more fun to build and experiment with. What do you think?