I’m going to do as much live blogging as possible in order to give you a sense of what’s going on here, which means that I won’t be doing a lot of in-depth analysis in these posts, but will try to add more of that after a bit of introspection.
This is the first IDS Scheer user conference that I’ve attended, and one of the first conferences where I’ve attended a press/analyst briefing. I’ve spent the past 12 years implementing BPM systems, doing design and architecture, and this transition to “press/analyst” is still a bit weird for me, although I’m sure that I’ll get used to it 🙂 One nice thing about these conferences is getting to meet people who I’ve only ever “met” online, such as Gregg Rock from BPM Institute, and Jim Sinur from Gartner
The briefing was hosted by Sinur, and included a panel of IDS Scheer executives: Thomas Volk (CEO), Dr. Wolfram Jost (CTO), Dr. Mathias Kirchmer (Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer), and Charlie Doucot (SVP of Sales for the Americas).
In Volk’s high-level update on IDS Scheer at the start of the briefing, I found that the BPM acronym is being used here to focus on the modelling end of the spectrum; not surprising, but likely causes some confusion still in the marketplace where BPMS vendors push BPM as an acronym for the execution end of the spectrum.
We heard from Jost about some of their new technology that we’ll see showcased here this week, and rolled out over the coming months:
- As a result of their partnership with Corticon, an integration of the rules engine into modelling as a Business Rules Designer, which is being piloted at Barclays Bank now
- A new SOA Designer (piloting within SAP, who is a user as well as an OEM partner) for modelling services and bringing business modelling to SOA
- A new version of Business Optimizer
- Six “solutions” that are pre-made combinations of their underlying products in order to offer specific vertical market solutions
Volk discussed some of the corporate expansion initiatives: although the bulk of their revenue is still in Europe, they are opening an office on the US west coast (I heard something about the Mountain View area, presumably to be close to Oracle) in addition to the current eastern US offices. They are also expanding in Asia from their strong base in Japan, including 100 people in China and further expansion plans in other Asian countries, through partnerships as well as regional offices. They will be announcing many more partnerships in the coming months, and see both OEM and SI partners as a crucial part of their growth.
I was particularly intrigued by the innovation relationships that they have with a number of universities around the world. Having graduated in Engineering from University of Waterloo, I’m very aware of the amazing things that can happen from the synergy between an innovation-minded technology company and a university, so I think that this is a great idea. I had to chuckle at one comment from Jost during the discussion of customers where they are helping to drive innovation and piloting their products: he mentioned VW/Audi, then qualified that with “they’re a big automotive company in Germany”, as if we might not have heard of them. I love the weird language and cultural mashups that occur when people from different countries get together (the Germans also say proh-cess instead of praw-cess, so I feel right at home), although I think that IDS Scheer needs to loosen up a bit in the press conference format to fit the more casual North American business environment.
There was a discussion based on a question from the floor about the involvement of business people both in the decision to purchase ARIS, and the general user population, and it appears that more and more non-technical people are using the product and attending the conference. 10 years ago, 80% of users were technical; now 80% have a business background or are in a business function. They’ve seen a definite change in mindset over recent years for business to drive IT rather than vice versa. Sinur expanded with what Gartner is seeing, in that as organizations migrate from functional excellence to end-to-end process excellence, it forces business and IT to work together across the organization and also facilitates a larger role for business.
We also heard about how they differentiate their product from the modelling capabilities within a BPMS, a topic that I’ve been looking at lately. They see ARIS as process modelling in a larger context, not just for execution but for the management of business processes and their performance. They see the modelling done in BPMS products as “technical” modelling, whereas ARIS is for “business” modelling, a distinction that I think is starting to get a bit fuzzy as the BPMS vendors introduce different views/personalities in their modelling tools for different roles. However, it is the case that you can’t use a BPMS modelling tool to model non-automated processes, only those things that will be executed/automated by the BPMS, so there is some value to IDS Scheer’s perspective on this. ARIS can integrate with a number of BPMS engines, including SAP NetWeaver, Oracle Fusion, IBM WebSphere, Microsoft BizTalk, BEA Weblogic, Fujitsu Interstate, and TIBCO; most of these vendors come from the ESB space so haven’t developed the same sophistication of modelling tools as the pure-play BPMS vendors or those from human-facing workflow origins, and most benefit from partnership with a serious modelling product like ARIS.