I sat in on a roundtable with Doug Hunt, VP of Business Performance and Service Optimization (which appears to be a fancy name for industry accelerators) and Alan Godfrey of Lombardi. Basically, BP&SO is a team within the software group (as opposed to services) that works with GBS (the services part of IBM) to build out industry vertical accelerators based on actual customer experience. In other words, these are licensed software packs that would typically be bundled with services. A BP&SO center of excellence within GBS has been launched in order to link the efforts between the two areas.
I heard a bit about the accelerators in the BPM portfolio update this morning; they’re focused on making implementation faster by providing a set of templates, adapters, event interfaces and content for a specific industry process, which can then be built out into a complete solutions by GBS or a partner. In particular, the accelerators look at how collaboration, monitoring, analytics, rules and content can be used specifically in the context of the vertical use case. They’re not really focused on the execution layer, since that tends to be where the ISVs play, but rather more prescriptive, such as the control layer for real-time monitoring across multiple business silos.
Interestingly, Hunt describe the recently-revealed advanced case management (ACM) as a use case around which an accelerator could be developed; I’m not sure that everyone would agree with this characterization, although it may be technically closer to the truth than trying to pass off the ACM “strategy” as a product.
This trend for vertical accelerators has been around in the BPM market for a while with many other vendors, and the large analysts typically look at this as a measure of the BPMS vendor’s maturity in BPM. The WebSphere accelerators are less than a packaged application, but more than a sales tool; maybe not much more, since they were described as being suitable for an “advanced conference room pilot”. In any case, they’re being driven in part by the customers’ need to be more agile than is permitted with a structured packaged application. There’s no doubt that some highly regulated processes, such as in healthcare, may still be more suited for a packaged application, but the more flexible accelerators widen the market beyond that of the packaged applications.