BPM Think Tank Day 3: Randy Heffner

Day 3 opened with a keynote from Randy Heffner of Forrester on BPM in the world of digital business architecture.

He spoke about the old model of enterprise applications, which was that of functional silos with point-to-point integration between them, and how that’s changing to a process-centric model: not just using BPM to connect up the functional silos, but breaking down the functional silos so that the technology becomes a better reflection of the essential business processes. He envisions a number of portals for different worker roles — sales process portal, executive portal, fulfillment portal, etc. — with a layer of business-oriented services that support those portals by accessing virtualized enterprise data sources (which, of course, may still come from those old enterprise applications).

He seems focussed on SOA and business services rather than BPM and the orchestration of those services; he models the enterprise as portals consuming the services where presumably BPM is implicit in the portal in some way rather than discussing BPM directly. That becomes a bit more clear in a layered diagram of the new “programming” model, with various user interaction channels at the top, then a layer of interaction services, then human-centric process flow, then business services, then integration-centric process flow, then the underlying systems and data sources. Along the side spanning the layers are both business metadata (across interaction services and human-centric process flow) and technical metadata (across business services and integration-centric process flow), and business measurement and optimization across all the layers.

In his slide on the future of key technology platforms, there’s this big fuzzy bit in the middle called “business metadata core / business design platform”, which he admits is poorly defined and states that BPM provides a start to some of that functionality. The surrounding technologies, including the SOA sweet spot of business services, are otherwise pretty well defined in his view.

He finishes with a list of core competencies for the future of IT:

  • Deep integration of business and technology savvy: cross-functional focus on business design
  • Architecture visioning and strategy: vision + implementation = street-level strategy; multilevel investment strategy (strategic, soft dollar, hard dollar)
  • Portfolio management: road map for your business to position and justify investments
  • Project-level architecture governance: incremental build-out against architecture strategy

Forrester seems to have a distinct division between SOA and BPM in its analysts: they either know one domain or the other, but don’t seem all that comfortable talking about the other side. Heffner is definitely an SOA guy.

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