I feel like I’m on the last mile of a marathon: it’s the closing keynote of the conference, and it seems like it’s been going on a long time. Gartner may have jumped the shark by moving to two North American BPM summits per year; a lot of the material is heavily recycled, making it much less valuable to repeat attendees (although still very good for first-timers), and I’m sure that the vendors are completely fatigued — both in terms of time and money — from attending two of these each year, plus the one in London. Attendance feels lower than last spring, although more than last fall’s dismal attendance, and at some point the vendors will find that it’s just not worth their time and money to attend both North American BPM summits each year; that in turn will impact the quality of the experience for the end-customer attendees since they’ll see less of the vendors’ customer presentations, and less vendors at the trade show.
I’m hearing Daryl Plummer for the first time this week — not sure how I missed him earlier — as he moderates the open research meeting, joined by Janelle Hill, Matt Hotle, Elise Olding and Jeff Woods. I’ve never managed to attend one of these before, since I always seem to have been heading out of town during the last session. The format is that they put forward a series of strategic planning assumptions, then they are debated by the analysts on the stage and anyone from the audience who wants to participate.
The first strategic planning assumption is that business application vendors that do not deliver model-driven applications by 2012 will be marginalized as application providers. The dominant players — SAP, Microsoft and Oracle — are already moving in the direction of model-driven architecture, but there are still a lot of other ERP applications out there that are not heading that way, and there seems to be a strong argument that four years is just too aggressive of a timeline, especially in vertical industries where there might only be one dominant layer for a vertical-specific application. When it does come, it will likely be driven by the business, since model-driven architecture provides a world of difference to business (although it still has significant benefit to IT).
The second strategic planning assumption is that by 2012, more than half of new mission-critical business functions will be delivered by teams outside of IT through model-driven and agile techniques. Related to the previous SPA, this means that not only will the vendors be providing the model-driven applications, but that the business area will be delivering the functionality based on them, and on inherently model-driven platforms such as BPMS. This, of course, presupposes that the business even wants to lead these initiatives, which isn’t at all obvious since it isn’t happening in a majority of companies now. An interesting debate rose out of this that resulted in one of the analysts stating that “it might happen, but it might not work”, and pointing out that if their strategic planning assumptions don’t have some risk of being wrong, then they’re just tactical planning points.
The third strategic planning assumption is that enterprises that modernize their applications portfolio without a model-driven application focus will spend an equivalent amount of money by 2012 on a second round of modernization to get to model-driven applications. This highlights that not only will it be necessary to move to model-driven applications, but that it’s expensive; there was also discussion that if it’s not model-driven, then it’s not modernization, which seems to be a bit of a stretch.
All in all, I found this session interesting and am glad that I stuck around for it. I think that Gartner is very bullish on model-driven applications, and are overly optimistic about the timelines for how this technology will roll out. I don’t think that there’s any question that these things will occur, but 2012 is only four years away.