BPM Think Tank Day 2: Connie Moore keynote

Today started with Connie Moore and Colin Teubner from Forrester delivering the keynote “Making Sense of the Business Process Management Landscape”. Moore addressed the ever-present (and ever-changing) issue of defining the BPM landscape. She thinks that BPM was co-oped by the integration vendors — a view that I’ve heard a few times over the past day, and with which I agree to some degree — and thinks that it needs to be given back to the business. She splits the landscape into pure-play BPM, integration, traditional B2B, enterprise content management, application platform, and enterprise application. I found her comments about ECM vendors interesting (paraphrasing): “they don’t really understand it, but they created some of the early workflow products”. Considering that they put FileNet in this “don’t get it” category but that FileNet also ended up right on the border between “strong performer” and “leader” in their Wave for Human-Centric BPMS doesn’t match up (I mention FileNet specifically because I worked there a long time ago and still work with some of their products, so have a good idea of their capabilities), so not sure of the value of these categorizations.

She started out showing the results of a Forrester survey from last year about problems with enterprise application implementations, where several of the top responses were related to BPM in some way: inadequate support for cross-functional processes, limits on process change due to application inflexibility, lack of visibility and analytic insight into process results, and inability to extend business processes to external partners.

She showed how BPM evolved from workflow, although I think that her view is simplistic since it only considers the human-centric side. She then went on to talk about Ken Vollmer’s view, which is that BPM evolved from EAI; as you can imagine, I think that’s also a simplistic viewpoint. As I discussed in my history of BPM, I think that the market started to merge a few years back when workflow vendors started adding EAI, and EAI vendors started adding workflow, although all of them maintain an orientation in one direction or another. Forrester now ranks the integration vendors and the human-centric BPM vendors separately, and has very different analyst teams working on them, effectively tearing apart the originally artificial, but now well-accepted, combination of everything integration-related under the BPM umbrella that Gartner made a few years back. It feels like they’re trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube, and I don’t think that it’s going to work. Moore does make a valid point that one product won’t do it all, which is exactly what I’ve been telling my customers for some time: I think that most organizations need two in order to cover all the requirements currently, although they need to work together closely.

They showed a great diagram where BPM is positioned as the crossover technology between business and IT, whereas ESB and other more integration-focussed technologies are clearly on the IT side of the fence. Let’s face it, an IT person might talk to a business person about BPM, but they’re never going to talk about them about ESB or SOA with any degree of success: BPM lives in both of their worlds, although may show different faces to each side.

Moore then said those words that always chill my heart when I hear them from an analyst: “I’m going to talk about where BPM vendors ought to be thinking”. I had a lengthy conversation yesterday about how I disagree with the power that Gartner has as a market-maker, as opposed to an organization that analyzes and reports on the market and trends, and here’s Forrester playing the same game. I was quite relieved when she presented a very vanilla view of a value pyramid of BPM-related functions plus some predictions like the user experience will change dramatically (without mentioning Web 2.0), and that better integration between BPM and BI is needed. Whew.

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