Gartner Day 2: Michele Cantara

Michele Cantara is holding the session on the BPMS market, including key players and trends. I can tell that the straw poll that Daryl Plummer did yesterday is correct in terms of there being more business than IT people at the conference, since this session seems to be shockingly poorly attended. Maybe it’s just that this is the first session after lunch.

Gartner is now pushing the idea of integrated composition environments (ICE) as an expansion on a BPM suite: they position BPMS as one step on the way to an ICE.

Cantara shows the current Gartner representation of BPMS as a set of functionality that is available as a “single product experience”: process component registry/repository in the middle, surrounded by process execution and state management engine, model drive development environment, document and content mgt, user and group collaboration, system connectivity, business event BI and activity management, inline and offline simulation and optimization, business rules management, and systems management and administration.

She sees the BPMS market as having started in 2005, since prior to that, no vendor had all of this required functionality; in 2006, there were 19 of them (including a few that I have never thought of in this space or have never heard of, such as Graham Technology), and there’s another 5 as candidates for the 2007 BPMS market share analysis. The prediction is that 4 or more of these will be acquired by platform or application vendors within the next two years, so will drop out of the BPMS market — a bit of a weird statement considering that IBM and Oracle, which are clearly platform vendors, are still here and are considered the two largest BPMS vendors: why wouldn’t the acquiring vendors just be added to this list if they acquire the BPMS vendor?

There’s some pretty interesting conclusions to be drawn from a chart that she showed of the top 10 BPMS vendors and their comparative 2005 and 2006 market share: many of the vendors had their market share stay the same or even reduce, even though they increased their revenues, since the size of the market grew. Since IBM and Oracle, shown as the top two vendors for 2006 and non-existent for 2005, really skew the numbers: I suspect that they didn’t build that business in one year, but that Gartner reclassified a big chunk of what they do as BPMS and therefore “increased” the market size without it actually increasing all that much. This comes back in a later slide that shows a projection of the market size based on the 2006 numbers: since the market “grew” by 69% between 2005 and 2006, which I think is based primarily on Gartner reclassifying existing business rather than actual growth, another 40% is expected for 2007, then 20% year-over-year until 2011. Short of a whole new bunch of recategorization, I just can’t see the BPMS market tripling from $1.7B to $5.1B (which is the effect of those growth rates compounded over time) over that five year period. The overarching category of “middleware” (PPMW = portals, process and middleware) that includes BPMS is predicted to only double during that time, which looks conservative in comparison.

She showed another interesting chart that plotted business user-driven versus IT driven control against infrequent versus continuous change. BPMS’ fit best in business user-driven, continuously-changing processes, but may also be applied to any business user-driven process and any continuously-changing processes even though less integrated pure-play BPM products may also fit in these latter situations. For IT-driven processes that change infrequently, a BPMS is likely overkill.

She also looked at the four main BPMS buying patterns: automating a specific process, continuous process improvement, moving to SOA, and business transformation. Each of these has different types of buyers and different goals, which can mean quite different requirements for a BPMS depending on what’s driving the original purchase. Market drivers (e.g., compliance) and inhibitors (e.g., market share consolidation) also impact purchasing patterns.

Vendors that can’t play the entire BPMS functionality game that Gartner has defined can take a few different routes. They could concentrate on some best-of-breed functionality that they offer, and partner for the remaining functionality (which as recently as a year ago, was Gartner’s definition of a BPMS). They could focus on specific process-based applications for a small number of verticals rather than a cross-industry horizontal suite. They could focus on an integrated service environment (ISE) with service assembly and some degree of development in a model-driven approach. Lastly, they could focus on a business process platform (BPP) approach.  Cantara discussed the different situations in which you might choose one of these types rather than a full BPMS, and showed some indicators for telling whether a BPM vendors is moving in one (or more) of these directions; in some cases, the distinction between these four routes are pretty vague.

Her final recommendations really position BPMS as a development platform, which is more accurate than not, but not necessarily the message that the BPMS vendors give to the market. She also pointed out the critical role of round-tripping capabilities between modelling and execution environments.

I thought that they’d have a new BPMS magic quadrant out by now, but apparently it’s due next month, so stay tuned to Gartner for that.

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