TIBCONOW ActiveMatrix BPM Roadmap

On Monday, we heard an update on the current state of AMX BPM from Roger King; today, he gave us more on the new release and future plans in his “BPM for Tomorrow” breakout session. He started out introducing ActiveMatrix BPM 3.1, including the following key themes:

  • Case management
  • Data
  • Usability and productivity

As we saw in the previous breakout, the addition of ad hoc activities to process models enables case management capabilities. Ad hoc (disconnected) activities are fully supported in BPMN; TIBCO provides tooling to add preconditions and the choice of manual/automatic invocation: that allow an activity to be started manually or to start itself once the preconditions are met. If there are no preconditions, the activity will start (or be available to start) as soon as the process is instantiated. Manually-startable activities are surfaced for the user in the case UI, in the task list and in the process list. Case states and actions are defined in the case model, specifying the states, actions, and which actions are valid for each state. Support for CMIS has been extended to allow the addition of content (in an external ECM system) to a case object via a case folder paradigm; this includes some new document operations such as linking/unlinking to a case object.

Data and self-serving reporting is now enabled with the inclusion of the full capabilities of Jaspersoft — acquired by TIBCO in April 2014 — in AMX BPM (limited in use to BPM) and a number of out of the box reports and dashboards. This works with case data as well as process data. The messaging and capabilities of Spotfire for BPM analytics has been a bit lacking in the past, and obviously Jaspersoft is being positioned as the “right” way to do BPM analytics (which is probably not happy news for the customers that sweated through the BPM-Spotfire implementations).

On the usability side, they have improved some BPM developer tools such as developer server configuration, and added “live development” capability for iterative development of UI forms without needing to rebuild and redeploy: just edit, save and test directly.

He then talked about their future product direction, which is predicated on their role in managing the “crown jewel” core business processes, necessitating a lot of non-functional capability such as high availability and scalability. As for market trends, they are seeing the cloud being used to drive innovation through experimentation because of the low cost of failure, and the rise of disposable enterprise apps. As enterprise processes become more and more digital, organizations are starting to respond with more automated business processes as well as case management for more dynamic processes. Not surprisingly, they are seeing BPMS with HTML5 as an enterprise rapid application development platform: I have been seeing a merging of the high end of the BPMS market with the application development platform market for some time.

Every organization has a lot of non-differentiating applications with standardized experiences, such as those that support procurement and HR; TIBCO’s target is the differentiating apps within an enterprise, which may not be the systems of record but likely are the systems of engagement. The key to this is enterprise case management and process-centric apps, which include data, process, organizational and social aspects, but also UI composition capabilities, since out-of-the-box UI is rarely differentiating. They are moving toward having some large part of their development environment on the web rather than Eclipse, which will roll out around the time that Microsoft finally forces companies onto Internet Explorer 11 where HTML5 is properly supported. Through this, they will support more of the composable situational apps that can be built, rolled out, used and discarded in less time that it used to take you to write the requirements for an app.

Declarative (data and rules-driven) versus imperative (predefined flow) process models are on their roadmap, and they will start to roll out declarative models in the context of case management: not to the exclusion of imperative models, but to augment them where they provide a better fit. Tied into this, at least in my mind, they are providing stronger support for rules integrated into BPM development.

He restated the official TIBCO party line that BPMN is not for business users, but that they need something more like Nimbus UPN instead; however, those are currently offered by two separate and non-integrated products that can’t exchange models, making Nimbus less useful for process discovery that will lead to automation. In the future, they will address this with enterprise BPM in the cloud, providing a “Nimbus-style” experience for business users and business-IT collaboration to start, then more analyst-style BPMN modeling, design and implementation. Not clear how they are going to reconcile UPM and BPMN, however.

King then announced TIBCO Cloud BPM — not yet available, but soon — which will be a BPM service powered by AMX BPM. They deprecated their Silver Fabric BPM support, which allowed you to run AMX BPM in the Amazon cloud; it wasn’t a particularly flexible or supportable cloud BPM offering, and a true SaaS offering will be a good addition when it comes along.

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