John Bates, CTO of Progress

John Bates started with more of the Progress message on operational responsiveness, highlighting the importance of process and event management in this. He showed survey results stating that companies find it critical to respond to problematic events in real time, but only a small percentage are able to actually do that. Companies want real-time business visibility, the ability to immediately sense and respond, and continuous business process improvement in a cycle of responsive process management. Yeah, and I want a pony for Christmas. Okay, not really, but wishing doesn’t make any of this happen.

By adding BPM to their suite, Progress brings together process and event management; this makes is possible to achieve this level of operational responsiveness, but it’s not quite so easy as that. First of all, we need to hear more about how the suite of products are going to be integrated. Secondly, and more importantly, companies who want to have this level of operational responsiveness need to do something about the legacy sludge that’s keeping them from achieving it: otherwise, Progress (and all the other software vendors) are just pushing on a rope.

Bates then called up James Hardy, CIO at State Street Global Markets Technology, for an on-stage conversation about how State Street is using the Progress Apama CEP product in trading and other applications. They’re a Lean Six Sigma shop, and see CEP as a natural fit for the type of process improvement that they’re doing in the context of their LSS efforts: CEP allows for some exceptions to be corrected and resubmitted automatically rather than being pushed to human exception management. They’re also committed to cloud-based technology, but by building a private cloud, not public infrastructure, and have seen some speedy implementations due to that. They see operational responsiveness as not just about increasing revenue, but also about mitigating risk.

Bates then talked about 3Italia, an Italian telco that was having trouble dealing with the incremental credit checks and revenue generation required for their prepaid mobile customers: since their billing systems weren’t fully integrated with their servicing systems, they sometimes allowed calls to be completed even though a customer had run out of credit and their credit couldn’t be revalidated. They are also a TIBCO enterprise customer, but weren’t able to get the level of agility that they needed, so implemented Progress (this is Progress’ version of story, remember). They managed to stop most of that revenue leakage by providing direct links between billing and servicing systems, and also started doing location-based advertizing to increase their revenues.

He also spoke about Royal Dirkzwager, a shipping line, and how they were able to achieve millions in fuel savings by detecting potential issues with docking and loading before they occured, and avoid burning fuel getting to the wrong place at the wrong time.

He finished up the case studies with a couple of airline scenarios for maximizing profits using situational awareness: responding to crew or flight delays proactively rather than just responding to irate customers after the fact (this is a lesson that Lufthansa could definitely learn, based on my recent experience). To bolster this case, he introduced Joshua Norrid of Southwest Airlines – also a TIBCO customer – who discussed their journey from “Noah’s Architecture” (two of everything) to focusing on strategic products and vendor partners. They were an IONA customer, then Savvion, and recently started using Actional: having lived through two of the products that he used being acquired by Progress, he said that the acquisitions where done “in style”, which is pretty high praise considering the usual experience of customers of acquired companies. They’ve started to look at how they can be more operationally responsive: text messages when flights are delayed, for example, but also looking forward to how flight bookings might change during a weather event, or how local hotels might be pre-booked in the case of significant expected delays. They see reducing redundancies and inefficiencies in their architecture as a key to their success: lowered cost and better data integration helps in bottom line IT cost savings, operational savings and customer satisfaction.

After the customer stories, Bates discussed the future of responsive business applications: packaged applications evolving into dynamic applications; a control tower for business users to model, monitor, control and improve dynamic applications; and solution accelerators for pre-built industry-specific dynamic applications. Savvion’s strong focus on pre-built applications is an important synergy with the rest of the Progress suite. Their solution map includes these accelerators supported by a single control tower, which in turn provides access to BPM, CEP and other technology components. For example, their Responsive Process Management (RPM) Suite includes Actional, Apama and Savvion underpinned by Sonic, DataDirect Shadow and Enterprise Data Services, plus the common Control Tower and three vertical accelerator applications for finance, telecom and travel/logistics. They believe that they can continue to compete in their specialty areas such as CEP and BPM, but also as an integrated product suite.

RPM technical won’t be publicly announced until March 15th, but it’s already all over Twitter from the people in the room here in Boston.

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