The usual Gartner format is to allocate some sessions for vendors (read: sponsors) and their customers to make short presentations, and I sat in on Sandy Carter talking about IBM’s view of SOA and BPM.
She started with some thoughts on what’s driving business today and the changing business landscape in the global economy, from new technology and business models to new customers and global integration, and how this is driving companies to both innovation and optimization. She talked about some interesting examples of this: McDonald’s is handling their drive-through orders by routing them to operators in the Philippines who interact verbally with the customer to take the order, then key the order into a system that results your burger popping out of the window when you drive up; a perfect example of outsourcing a specific task in a process as opposed to the entire process.
Carter comes from the SOA side and stated up front that BPM must be implemented with SOA; while I certainly agree that SOA makes the implementation of BPM much more efficient, there are plenty of successful BPM implementations that don’t rely on SOA. She showed an enterprise architecture type of view of BPM (although she didn’t call it that), calling out the business view, the process view and the IT view as independent yet interconnected layers.
In looking at their strategy, she covered enhancements to the WebSphere Business Modeler, including improved integration with FileNet and Workplace eForms (by which I assume that she means the FileNet eForms product), which is good news: ever since the acquisition of FileNet by IBM was announced over a year ago, I’ve been wondering how they’re going to properly integrate the FileNet functionality into the WebSphere suite. As an aside, I’ve always felt that the BPM part of the FileNet line should have been moved over to the WebSphere suite from at least a product marketing/product management standpoint, although there would have been technical challenges due to the integrated nature of the FileNet platform: there’s a huge gaping hole where there should be human-facing BPM in the WebSphere line, and FileNet’s BPM would fill that gap.
She also discussed the WebSphere Business Monitor; I’m not sure if this BAM dashboard is the same as the Celequest (now Cognos) BAM capability that’s OEM’d into FileNet’s product line, or if they have a separate BAM offering.
Since IBM is really in the services business these days rather than the software business, she also talked about their new BPM methodology services offering. She showed a video of a very Second Life-ish “interactive management game” in which you run around the game and optimize a business process using BPM and SOA: a “first person shooter” game for business. This is supposed to appeal to the new generation of management that is coming through the universities now; I’d really like to hear the reactions of the students to this and whether they see it as a valid learning mode or just a lame attempt by a large corporation to jump on the Gen-Y bandwagon.