I started to get paranoid yesterday when my meeting with Wolfgang Hilpert and Thomas Vollmering was scheduled at the same time as Ginger Gatling’s session on NetWeaver BPM, then they didn’t show for the meeting – was there something they didn’t want me to know? However, it was just a scheduling glitch, and eventually we met up so that they could brief me on the current release and what’s coming later this year.
When I last had an in-depth look at the product late last year, it was in late beta; since then, it’s been through the SAP ramp-up (early ship) process, and was released for unrestricted shipment on Monday. I’ll be finishing up my review of the current release in an upcoming post, and as soon as Thomas forwards on the material that he promised to send (hint, hint), I’ll be able to post a bit more on the future directions.
The newly released version is still lacking a lot of expected BPMS functionality, but has focused on the features that SAP’s customers said that they needed the most: human-centric BPM (since there are existing products in the SAP suite that cover lower-level orchestration) and a integrated composition environment that can eventually be used for process composition across all layers: human-facing tasks, web services, and core ERP processes. Due to their Yasu acquisition, they also did direct integration between the BPM and BRM environments, although there were some rough edges there and in some of the other areas, such as handling the user interface at process steps.
In spite of the shortcomings of the first release, SAP’s vision for BPM is far-reaching, especially around the integration of events and analytics. They are taking advantage of the innovation that’s happening within the BusinessObjects group, and there’s a potential for them to create a powerful platform not just for managing processes, but for handling events, including the results of analytics at a human-facing step as a decision-support tool, and for analyzing and optimizing processes.