Yvonne Genovese opened the day with a discussion on business applications through 2010 and the major changes impacting process environments. Her main focus is on enterprise applications, not BPM, but these applications have a huge impact on process management in any organization.
Her first strategic planning assumption: “By 2009, all leading application platforms will support design and deployment of events, complex events and services in a common, integrated context enabling users to create their own BPP [business process platform].” She followed this up later in the session to discuss how the enterprise application vendors will tend to try to increase the footprint of their application with customer organizations by expanding out to use their own middleware and other platform pieces.
No surprise, she also sees enabling process innovation and agility plus incorporating information into the processes will be a key for success: this is the intersection of BI and BPM that’s starting to occur more often today.
She discussed the problems today with fulfilling the dream of using services to build business applications: in reality, many of the services don’t match up all the well, and it’s not just plug and play as the application vendors might have you believe but still requires some amount of integration. However, by 2010, she sees the application environment becoming more service oriented such that services can be more universally used with less concern about the specific architecture of the services. That allows some parts of packaged applications to be more easily replaced by composite applications or outsourcing with much less custom integration work than is now required. For a process environment, this means more flexibility in sourcing processes or portions of processes, and the packaging and pricing will reorient towards operational processes.
As this happens, control will start to shift from vendors — from the environment of a primary vendor ecosystem — to the customers, who create their own ecosystem by selecting middleware, process components, SaaS, outsourcing and other building blocks. Many of these decisions also shift the control from IT to business within an organization, but it’s very necessary to distinguish between the processes that provide an organization with their competitive differentiation when selecting what to outsource or even move to SaaS. For example, SAP is announcing this week that they’ll have an entire SaaS platform for customers to use, but it’s not as functional as the full on-premise suite that you would buy from them directly, nor will it be integrated or customized for your environment to the same degree.
Getting back to the recurring theme of people within the process that I’m seeing this week, she also stated that the focus will move from process efficiency to arming the information worker. In fact, she states that by 2010, more than 50% of collaboration and user productivity interactions will be integrated with process technologies such as BPM — this addresses not just the transactional human interactions that occur in many automated processes now, but also all those messy, event-driven, less structured human interactions that are almost purely manual now.
Genovese went through three different process governance models — safe and steady control, cautiously dynamic, and aggressively predictive — and discussed the pros and cons of each as well as their basic characteristics.
We then arrived at this week’s first explicit definition of what Gartner means by a business process platform:
The business process platform is a combined IT and business model that enables enterprises to accommodate rapid but controlled business process change through the use of integrated process composition technologies and the delivery of reusable business process components and their management.
Whereas at the conference in February, they were saying that the large vendors would be creating BPPs and organizations would be buying them, it now sounds like they think that customers will be rolling their own BPP from best-of-breed components that best fit their environment and business needs, and assembling a virtual business services repository. In this context, it’s especially important to build or buy services with reuse in mind.
Genovese finished with a review of some of the large vendor’s BPP architectures, including a view of their BPP stack, and a summary of their strategies, strengths and challenges: Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and IBM. Her final recommendation for end-user organizations brought home why it’s important to understand what these vendors offer:
This era of change will require many users to re-platform all or some of their process environments; therefore, understand how the current business applications changes affect your environment now.