Forrester Wave: Human-Centric BPM for Microsoft Platforms

In mid-2007, Forrester released their Wave for Human-Centric BPM, but with a twist: it only covered Java Platforms. As much as I disagree with this separation of products based on platform (since most customers that I see have both Java and Microsoft in their environment, and this is a meaningless distinction to business people who are involved in vendor product selection), at least they’ve finally come out with the complementary report, Human-Centric BPM for Microsoft. It’s also complimentary 🙂 on the Global 360 website (registration required).

Keep in mind that Forrester also publishes Wave reports on integration-centric BPMS (last issued in December 2006, so expect a new version in the coming months) and BPM for document processes.

Here’s the vendors covered in each of the Forrester reports:

Human-centric Java Human-centric Microsoft Integration-centric Document processes
Graham Technology
Software AG
Global 360
Magic Software
Software AG
Autonomy Cardiff
Global 360
Open Text

Some of the larger vendors appear in multiple categories: BEA, Software AG and TIBCO all have human-centric (Java) and integration-centric offerings; Global 360 has both human-centric (MS) and document BPM; and IBM appears in all of human-centric (Java), integration-centric and document BPM.

Contrast this with Gartner’s approach, which is to have a single Magic Quadrant for all BPMS types, and covers the following vendors:

  • Adobe
  • Appian
  • Ascentn
  • AuraPortal
  • BEA
  • Captaris
  • EMC
  • Fujitsu
  • Global 360
  • IBM
  • Intalio
  • Lombardi
  • Metastorm
  • Microgen
  • Oracle
  • Pegasystems
  • Savvion
  • Singularity
  • Software AG
  • SunGard
  • Ultimus
  • Personally, I like the Gartner all-in-one approach, although I take issue with some of the vendors that they choose to include. As I mentioned previously, most of the companies that I work with support both Java and Microsoft platforms, from necessity, and have BPMS needs that span across human-centric, document and integration-centric: often within related processes. Except for the large vendors who appear in multiple reports, Forrester can make it hard to compare BPM products for heterogeneous environments.

    16 thoughts on “Forrester Wave: Human-Centric BPM for Microsoft Platforms”

    1. Sandy – I agree this is tough for folks looking comparatively across heterogeneous environments. It is further complicated by the integration-centric and document-centric distinctions as we see a great deal of convergence occurring.

      In all fairness to Forrester, I think they were attempting to help reduce clutter for a broad base of customers who have some level of platform bias and specific need. The criteria they emphasized was different for each – for example, .NET interoperability is important in evaluating a Microsoft-based technology, but perhaps not as important to everyone else.

      Josh (K2)

    2. Vinayak, they state in the report that the product they evaluated is IBM FileNet Business Process Manager, which is the former FileNet P8 BPM product.

    3. I am surprise to see that Cordys has be categorized as integration centric BPMS. Cordys, in my view is one of the first platform which combines the strengths of integration centric and human centric BPMS in one suite.

      Mohan Kumar

    4. Sandy, I think I agree with both you and Josh (hedging my bets?!). The Java and MS split is likely to be unimportant to business users, unless they have a CIO who has already told them they must select one or other platform before starting to look for products. In reality I’m sure that business and IT do work fairly closely in early product selection, so this could be the case.

      In a report that focuses on technology to some extent it does make sense to be able to address platform specific requirements, as Josh notes. Also, the Gartner MQ has turned out pretty cluttered (albeit quite comprehensive), so I’m sure many customers will pick and choose what matters to them from all their trusted analysts.

      Nice review of this current analyst activity.


    5. Josh, I think that it’s good for a company like yours (K2) because it highlights the Microsoft platform players, but I’m not sure what you’d get if you overlaid the two human-centric reports — are the leaders in both still leaders if they were to be compared on the same criteria? As Phil points out in his comment, business users usually don’t care about the technology platform; it should be a filter on the results, not an initial dividing line.

      As for splitting out “document processes”, I think that’s just plain dumb. Most of the human-centric processes that I see involve documents at some point along the way — that’s a big part of why they’re human-centric in the first place, since there’s unstructured information to be interpreted. I believe that the only thing that Forrester is doing with that report is pandering to the ECM vendors who want to play in the BPM space but don’t have the chops for it yet.

      Interestingly, by splitting human-centric and integration-centric reports, Forrester is effectively trying to undo the past 7-8 years of Gartner’s efforts to just call everything to do with process “BPM”. Back in the good old days, we had workflow and EAI; now we have HC and IC BPMS.

    6. Mohan, I was surprised to see Cordys only categorized as IC as well — they play in both areas, which exactly highlights why I think that you can’t split up the market like this anymore.

      The categorization as IC is likely due to their kick-ass mashup builder that’s part of the offering, although in reality, you’d use this to build a HC interface. I reviewed Cordys almost a year ago here.

    7. Clearly, Forrester’s segmentation of the market is an attempt to differentiate from Gartner. The question is whether or not it is helpful to anyone.

      I’m sure many smaller or less sophisticated organizations welcome the simplification offered by Forrester’s Wave. And while my Fortune500 business partners are not concerned with technology platforms or EA or SOA or EDM, per se, I’m sure there are a lot of smaller companies wading into this space where business people are not only plugged-in to platform decisions, but clearly understand and drive them.

      This said, personally, I prefer Gartner’s MQ.

    8. Troy, I’m with you on preferring Gartner’s MQ over the Forrester over-segmented reports. However, Gartner’s model could be greatly improved by some interactive filtering, if it were converted to an online report rather than a static PDF/paper. Imagine that you could filter the MQ by any number of factors, such as platform or the presence of a specific functionality.

    9. Agree with your point conceptually about how platform should not matter if you’re product is built on an SOA like most of the vendors listed are. However, the market realities (from a vendor’s perspective) are that there remain a large contingent of companies that choose on platform or rule you out based on platform. We still see it in at least 1/3 to 1/2 of the RFPs that we get roped into.

    10. Ritesh, this post is over two years old, which makes the Forrester waves even older than that. You may want to check the update Forrester reports for information on Skelta.

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