Gartner Day 0: Bill Rosser

I totally forgot that there were some late afternoon sessions today at the Gartner BPM summit until I showed up at registration around 3:30 expecting it to be deserted, and found a lineup of people trying to get registered before the 4pm session started.

This first session of the conference — missed by most attendees, who haven’t even arrived yet due to extremely inclement weather conditions across half the continent — was entitled “BPM: The Discipline”, presented by Bill Rosser of Gartner.

Rosser’s focus is on strategy, planning and modeling, and he recently shifted to BPM from enterprise architecture and other areas. In fact, last year when I saw him speak at the BPM summit, he was talking about EA, and I wasn’t all that impressed with his presentation then because it failed to make an adequate link between EA and BPM.

Rosser defines “discipline” on a number of levels, from “a field of study, knowledge and expertise” to “a system of rules of conduct or methods of practice” to “a method to ensure adherence to the rules”, then spends most of his presentation on the question of whether BPM is a discipline. First of all, to be blunt, who cares? Secondly, from a purely logical perspective, I don’t think that he proves his argument of whether BPM is or is not a discipline.

Although he had some nice slides on why to pursue BPM — performance improvement, greater agility [sic] to change, and stimulus for innovation — plus some on top-down versus bottom-up implementations, there was really nothing here specific to BPM. I had the sense that this was material recycled from other presentations about other topics, since it was really just a general discussion about discipline and implementing strategy: you could replace the words “business process” with “enterprise architecture”, for example, and hardly have to tweak the presentation at all. In fact, one chart was based on an HBS paper on enterprise architecture strategy, making me think that Rosser had just carried these over from his work in EA. Although some of these ideas here are as valid for BPM as they are for any other business/IT strategy area, I would have expected something that is much more specific to BPM.

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