TUCON: Mark Elder and Venkat Swaminathan

I played hooky for a couple of sessions to go over my presentation for later today; as I mentioned earlier, TIBCO’s product base is broader than my interests, so where a couple of natural dead spots during the schedule for me.

Just before my presentation with Tim Stephenson, I sat in on Mark Elder and Venkat Swaminathan, both from TIBCO, talking about BAM. Since this room (which is also where I present next) has crappy wifi reception, publication will be delayed until after I present, since it might be considered a bit cavalier to dash out between presentations just to post.

They spent some amount of time at the beginning explaining what BAM is and why you need it; I’ll assume that most of you already know that stuff.

The interesting part (for me) are the specifics about TIBO’s BAM product, iProcess Insight, which is a plug-in to the BusinessFactor framework to provide BAM capability for monitoring iProcess process flows. Like most of the other BAM products that I’ve seen, it allows the definition of industry-specific KPIs in the business processes, then provides real-time monitoring of those KPIs with drill-downs from the aggregate statistics to the details. You can also use BusinessFactor to integrate external data sources, like a customer database. There’s not shared process models between the BPM execution environment and BAM, since the first step is to download process definitions from the iProcess Engine to create a project; changes to the iProcess model require the model to be re-downloaded to the iProcess Insight project and the project manually updated to suit the updated process model. With all the round-tripping problems that we have already with process modelling in one environment and execution in another, I would have favoured a shared model approach.

Once you have your project defined, the BAM runtime sends information over to the process engine about what to monitor, and the engine sends back the relevant events to be aggregated, analyzed and presented within iProcess insight.

You can define different dashboards for different parts of the process, with different KPIs visible in each dashboard. There are some standard dashboard views, but it’s pretty configurable/customizable for views such as balanced scorecards or even geographical overlays.

Looking at the components of iProcess Insight, there’s a wizard interface to initially create a BusinessFactor project that will become your BAM dashboard, a process monitor for the start/end of procedures, a step monitor for the start/end of steps and their deadlines, a resource monitor for user/group metrics, and a supervisor capsule to allow someone with the appropriate credentials to change a specific process instance.

We then looked at a comparison between iProcess Insight and iProcess Analytics: basically, Insight is near-real-time, event-driven operational BAM, whereas Analytics is historical analysis and reporting based on batch statistics export from the process engine. Many BPM vendors (especially the more mature ones) end up with this same split of functionality, since they tend to have first built the analytics years ago when they built the process execution engine, then OEM’d or bought a BAM engine and strapped it on the side within the last year or two.

Based on the audience questions, and some earlier observations, I’m starting to get the idea that TIBCO’s “user” base is pretty technical, with not much representation from the business side of organizations. Given that many of their products are development and low-level integration tools, this isn’t surprising overall, but I expected a few more non-geeks in the BPM sessions. If this is any indication of who’s using TIBCO within customer organizations, TIBCO needs to focus more on the business side of their customers to really play in the BPM space.

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