Gartner BPM summit day 2: Jim Sinur

Tuesday’s session by Jim Sinur, “When Will the Power Vendors Offer Credible BPM Solutions?”, was one of the most interesting that I attended all week. For one thing, it left me with the question “which BPM vendor will Oracle buy?”, which is certainly not something that Sinur said but I can see the writing on the wall.

Sinur defines a “power vendor” as a company that has more than $1 billion in annual revenue and is a known brand to the average person: in this case, Fujitsu, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP are included in the soon-to-be-released magic quadrant.

I really like Sinur’s presentation style: he started with the summary in order to ease the suspense somewhat, although he did add in a lot of new information throughout the presentation. His big message to the existing BPM vendors: look out, because the power vendors have the ability to crush you within three years if they do everything right and you aren’t sufficiently innovative and financial stable. He sees the power vendors as being 12-18 months away from competing successfully in the full BPM space (as opposed to the integration-focussed side of the space, where most of them started), and that they’ll continue to partner with and OEM other companies’ products (such as SAP OEMing IDS Scheer) to build up capabilities as they mature.

He went through a map of BPM capabilities for each of the vendors (I posted about an earlier version of the generic scoring diagram last August), and I imagine that you’ll be able to get the full scoring details from Gartner soon. Basically, the top part of the map shows human-facing capabilities, the bottom shows integration capabilities, the left indicates incremental improvement and optimization capabilities, and the right shows the ability to make BPM human-friendly (including portals and content management, for example). Interestingly, he shows both the inherent vendor capabilities and the capabilities when combined with their partners on each map, using solid and dotted lines.

There were some surprises in here for me, since I tend to focus on the BPM vendors and not the power vendors. First, who knew that Fujitsu is in the BPM market? Or that both Fujitsu and Oracle have strong support for human task processing? Turns out that Fujitsu is big in Asian markets, but has little presence in North America and Europe, so has more of a marketing than a technical problem. No surprises with IBM or Microsoft, both of whom have strong integration support typical of a platform vendor, but are still building the human-facing side. As for SAP, probably the less said, the better.

He showed charts of the five vendors with a ranking of poor, medium or strong for each of the 10 capabilities in the diagram: one chart with just the vendor product, and one when combined with partner products. In the combined chart, Fujitsu had the highest number of “strong” ratings, at 4/10, but when you add the medium and strong, three vendors tie for a score of 7/10: Fujitsu, IBM and Oracle.

Sinur’s conclusion: Oracle is the best contender to close the gap soonest, with IBM a strong second; Fujitsu needs some serious North American and European marketing push to be a viable contender. Which leads me back to my original question: which BPM vendor will Oracle buy in order to close the gap sooner?

He also went through a list of non-power vendors who could become power vendors if they do everything right — Pegasystems, FileNet and Global 360 — as well as other large vendors who could decide to enter the space, including such wild cards as Yahoo!, eBay and Google. My favourite quote from the presentation came from his somewhat offhand dismissal of JBoss, the open source BPMS: “If you can’t sue them, do you want to buy them?”

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