IBM-Lombardi Deal Closes

That was fast! Proving my predictions to be ever so inaccurate when I said that it could be months before this closed, the IBM acquisition of Lombardi has closed less than six weeks after it was announced. Good news for IBM, Lombardi, and Lombardi customers.

Not surprisingly, IBM has toned down the “departmental” rhetoric that they initially used when talking about how Lombardi fits into their portfolio; there’s now only a mention of departmental managers rather than branding the software suite as being targeted only at departmental applications:

Lombardi adds a new dimension to IBM’s enterprise-wide BPM capabilities by giving organizations the ability to quickly adjust their business processes to support sudden and changing needs, especially those that rely heavily on collaboration to complete a task or project. Lombardi strengthens IBM’s capabilities in automating these processes, while empowering managers at the department level to change already running processes on the fly, eliminating the need for complicated and time-consuming technical intervention.

Of course, this now makes BP3’s upcoming bpmCamp an IBM user group conference. 🙂

9 thoughts on “IBM-Lombardi Deal Closes

  1. While I have to admit I never thought I’d be organizing an IBM conference… here we are…!

    Sandy, if you want to make a last minute trip down to Stanford and join us, please do : )

  2. (incidentally, someone pointed me to a 2006 post of yours that I hadn’t seen before, regarding the high price of conferences and the potential for unconferences… hopefully bpmCamp will be the first of many of this flavor. )

  3. Scott, if you want to make a last minute donation to my travel expenses, please do 😉

    I believe that we need a non-partisan BPM unconference, not one tied to a specific vendor or product. It also needs to be a true unconference; it appears that you’ve used some crowdsourcing for presentation topics, which is a great first step, but have prefilled many of the slots with your own speakers.

  4. Sandy – I’d love to but this isn’t one of those expensive for-profit conferences – so I don’t have any comps to hand out 🙂 Even the two lombardi/ibm folks are paying to come.

    I know the bigger expense is travel – we did everything we could to get good travel expenses- including cheap hotel and transportation 🙂

    Sandy – regarding the need: I don’t perceive the same need.
    1. vendor neutrality. Have you been to an iphoneDevCamp? a preDevCamp? They’re single-vendor gatherings… would they be higher value if they did a hybrid iphone/pre dev camp? i doubt it. How about a ruby camp or java camp? higher value if they had a ruby-java camp? Not really… IF you are going to talk about anything technical or product specific, multi-vendor just makes it harder to talk apples to apples, and exposes people to IP and NDA risks. Incidentally, I tested this concept with every single person I talked to about coming to bpmCamp – and every single Lombardi customer-employee I talked to wanted a single-vendor conference… I expected agreement of a plurality, but I didn’t expect 100% agreement. It was a hypothesis, and I tested it with every customer I worked with for the last year+… (Not every one of them is coming to this event however, due to travel constraints).

    2. “true” unconference. Look, I appreciate your interest in unconference purity. But if attendees have to have travel expenses approved, or even modest fees or meal expenses approved, most corporations require a modicum of agenda. And it helps at any rate to prime the pump. I chose the term “un-conference” because it implies a lack of the usual conference rules, not because it implies a new set of equally constraining rules 🙂 I wanted to prepare attendees’ expectations that there would not be the usual bevy of industry analysts and vendor-speakers dominating the agenda (even where a “speaker” is listed -for the most part this is to help facilitate discussions, not to run through slides), and also prepare them that it might be a little more disorganized! : )

    “it appears that you’ve used some crowdsourcing for presentation topics, which is a great first step, but have prefilled many of the slots with your own speakers.”

    To the first part- yes, we have absolutely crowdsourced. I put out some ideas, and asked for volunteers to contribute by moderating, presenting, facilitating – to their degree of comfort. I believe that SOME of these topics actually require preparation, to add sufficient value. To the second part, I disagree with your characterization. I did not “pre-fill” *many* of the slots with my own speakers. We are participants in the conference and volunteered for topics we want to talk about – just as everyone else who is speaking has done (or will do, day of). If there isn’t interest in the topic as the event is happening, we’ll punt on them and talk about what people want to discuss, or continue on topics that still have more energy. We’ve actually taken bp3 folks off of speaking spots because others volunteered, which is great! The agenda is subject to change, based on what people want to do. Pretty much the only session that isn’t subject to change is the very first one of Day 1, which will not be given by myself or any of “my speakers”.

    We can’t very well ask others to do what we wouldn’t be willing to do ourselves – get up in front of the room and get the discussion going or seed it with some ideas : )

    I’ll just say this: I’m not interested in purity, I’m just interested in a good event where attendees get as much as they can out of it. We’ve tried to strike a balance this time between planned and unplanned topics – and have crowd-sourced the topics and confirmed interest in them as much as is possible ahead of time – final “voting with feet” will happen at the conference of course : ) If the takeaway from the event is that it should be less-planned, we’ll do that next time. If the takeaway is that it needs more planning, we’ll do that next time. I’m not stuck on our approach, but I felt it was the best way to balance the goals of attendees and their organizations given it is our first time to organize something like this – and we arrived at this approach in consultation with Stanford University’s BPM team, which is our host for the event (I’m just helping organize and recruit attendees and topics from attendees).

    If someone organizes the multi-vendor pure unconference with absolutely no agenda ahead of time, I’d be happy to talk to them and keep tabs and see if it makes sense for someone from bp3 to attend. Obviously if thousands in travel costs are required, we’re going to have to consider whether that investment will be worth it – will we learn enough from the conference to justify the expense? How will we determine that? (Of course, if it happens to be in austin, we’ll be there ; )

  5. Scott, thanks for taking the time for such a comprehensive response.

    My quibble of the vendor-specificity is that you called this “bpmCamp”, when it should have been called “LombardiCamp” or something similar — I have no problem with vendor/product-specific unconferences, only when they attempt to masquerade as being an unconference for the entire industry, like if iPhoneCamp were called SmartphoneCamp or just PhoneCamp. All of the unconferences that I’ve been to have been non-vendor-specific: MashupCamp, Enterprise2Open, BarCamp, EnterpriseCamp, TransitCamp, CloudCamp, ChangeCamp and CrisisCamp. However, I am well aware of vendor/product-specific ones, such as WordCamp (for WordPress) and the ones that you mentioned. There needs to be a critical mass of people using that particular product or technology in order to have an unconference, however, and I’m not sure that is true for Lombardi products. The key is not just to have enough attendees, but enough people who are willing to lead a session, as well, which are typically a much smaller segment of the population.

    I laughed out loud at your comment that “every single Lombardi customer-employee I talked to wanted a single-vendor conference” — well, duh, of course they did, they have a vested interest in a focus on a single vendor’s products.

    Good luck with the (un)conference!

  6. I wouldn’t have assumed that “wordCamp” was wordpress… and the palm pre’s predevcamp isn’t amazingly obvious.

    We could have called it lombardiDevCamp but that would be using a trademarked and registered name which we have no right to use. So we didn’t use it. And it might imply that we were endorsed by Lombardi, which we weren’t (although they’ve decided after the fact to support the event by sending a couple of people to contribute). We’ve been VERY clear that this particular instance of a bpmCamp is focused on Lombardi’s products. No one has been confused on that front (I’ve not gotten any attendance requests from folks who aren’t Lombardi practitioners or customers). The name was available, no one has done one before, and I didn’t want to use the general “barCamp” term because it means something much more specific in terms of format.

    So- glad you got a good laugh – but if the point of our conference was to include a community of people we work with and are colleagues with – and they support the conference thesis- does it matter what their vested interest is? does that make their participation or interest less valid? Does it make a conference to support their interests less valid? If vendor-neutrality had more value to them- then people who had “vested interest” in a vendor would still be interested in it, or advise me of their interest in “either” not just vendor-specific. Is this response unique to lombardi customers? I doubt it. And if there are enough of them why shouldn’t they get a conference? 🙂 Should this unconference that is vendor neutral be pitched to people who don’t do bpm because they’re the only people who don’t have a vested interest? The point is, I polled the community and found enough interest in attending and speaking to have an event in the Bay Area – and we sold out our room capacity. In my mind that refutes your thesis somewhat, but I’m sure it doesn’t to you.

    In the future maybe we (or someone else) will do (un)conferences for other products if they have critical mass of practitioners. We’d be happy to assist. Or maybe someone will do the completely vendor-neutral version – again, happy to assist. It just happens to not be what we’re doing this time. In my mind, we’re advancing the ball in the right direction. If someone else wants to pick it up and advance it further, that would be great for everyone. It doesn’t cheapen what we’re doing in any way.

  7. Hi Sandy,

    You’re right, this is good news for our customers (that the acquisition closed so fast)! And, as Scott Francis pointed out (here –>, we also announced our first integration: you can now move your Blueprint-based process diagrams into Websphere Business Modeler. This is just the first of what will become deep integration into all aspects of the IBM product portfolio.

    But more important, I think it demonstrates our ability to continue to execute, which we think has become a hallmark of Lombardi. Throughout our “courtship,” IBM has consistently challenged us to stay ourselves, to continue on our mission, even as we do the necessary work of “bluewashing” our products so that they can be sold globally by IBM. And our mission is, above all, provide an elegant simplicity to all aspects of high-end BPM.

    So I think the fast closing process coupled with the Day 1 release of an easy-to-use Blueprint-to-Websphere Business Modeler transfer (here –> shows that we’re still committed to moving fast and delivering capabilities that make it easier and easier for real business people to use enterprise-class software.

    There will be more to come now that we’re officially one company, but I appreciate everyone acknowledging our successes – even as all of you need to keep us on our toes going forward.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *