I hate to spend too much of my time dissing the analysts, but sometimes I really wonder where they get their information. At a seminar that I attended last week, Michael Melenovsky from Gartner characterized the current state of BPM as workflow-oriented departmental implementations that included software deals in the $60K range. That’s not what I’m seeing, although maybe my view is skewed because I’m actually helping to implement these systems rather than taking the long view from the top of an ivory tower. I’m seeing BPM projects spanning the functionality spectrum from human-facing to STP, and spanning multiple departments across the enterprise to become part of the enterprise infrastructure. Furthermore, organizations are spending a lot of money on them, and have budgeted to spend even more in the next year (I seem to recall blogging about a recent study that showed application integration as the #1 spend for CIOs this year, but can’t seem to find it).
Melenovsky also showed a graph of the “BPM stages of value creation” over time, which showed productivity as being the greatest value of BPM now, visibility having the greatest value by 2012, and innovation having the greatest value by 2017. Besides the obvious point that predicting anything to do with a still-fluid technology 11 years in the future is about as accurate as reading tea leaves, the idea that visibility won’t be the dominant value added by BPM until 2012 is just plain wrong. Process visibility kicked into gear as a dominant driver for BPM over the past few years of intense compliance scrutiny, and it’s already poised to overtake productivity as the biggest benefit provided by BPM. Although the definition of process metrics is still more of an art than a science, the various levels of process-centric business intelligence that provide process visibility (corporate performance management, business activity monitoring, complex event processing) are being mandated in the boardroom and implemented across the enterprise. Process visibility is the new black, and it’s in style now.
I also don’t see another 11 years elapsing before innovation overtakes visibility to become the primary value provided by BPM, since agility and innovation are so closely tied, but the Ouija board hasn’t yet given me enough information about when it will happen.