Continued from Part 6.
Part 7: The New Arrivals. In the years following the dot-com bust in 2000, a number of new BPM vendors came into being, mostly in the coveted pure-play space. (Funnily enough, “pure-play BPM” is now not the desirable place to be, having been replaced by the “BPM suites” space that, according to some large analysts’ research, seems to have nearly identical functionality to pure-play BPM.) In many cases, these were started by those who were bounced out of their previous positions during the bursting of the bubble, so there was a lot of experience being put to the task of starting this new generation of BPM vendors.
The big advantage that a new vendor has in any industry is the lack of baggage, and nowhere was this truer than in BPM: they could start designing the next generation of BPM without having to reuse their existing technology or support their installed base, because they had neither. The BPM market needed to be reinvented, and these upstart young companies were the only ones who could shake things up enough to do it. I’m not going to credit the new arrivals with all the innovation in BPM during that time, but they certainly lit a fire under the old guard. Suddenly, we had BPM calling web services, or being called as a web service, in order to speed integration (and eventually become part of the SOA ecosystem). We had BAM, or at least some half-decent process monitoring and analytics for a change. We had simulation and optimization. We had integration with third-party modelling tools. We had business rule integration.
The startup environment during that time wasn’t the best — not a lot of venture funding around for technology, the perception that this was just a rehashing of the well-established workflow market — but a few of the vendors have become successful and many others are still straggling in their wake.
Meanwhile, the established BPM vendors had a big challenge on their hands: although few of the upstarts were challenging them directly for sales, the new guys were changing the perception of what the BPM market should be, forcing the big guys to follow suit as Gartner and the other large analysts published lists of must-have features that included this new functionality. Many of the larger vendors lagged badly in implementing new features, and look a little tired these days in comparison to the shiny bright newcomers. In some very conservative industries, such as financial services and insurance where most of my clients are, this hasn’t been a problem because they’d rather pick a vendor with a longer track record and the proven ability to process hundreds of thousands of items per day. However, this is where many of the dinosaur-like CIOs are fighting the losing battle against the push for emerging technology, and eventually the new kids will prove themselves scalable and stable enough for even the most conservative industries.
Even if none of the post-2000 vendors survive the upcoming bout of acquisitions, they have to be credited with not just injecting new life into BPM, but helping to reinvent it.
Next: The Current State