Gartner’s BPM trends and forecasts

Another webinar going on right now, Gartner BPM Roundtable: Business Process Management Trends and Forecasts, hosted by Global 360 and featuring Jim Sinur of Gartner (yes, this turned out to be “webinar day”, I have a third one after this if I’m not burned out).

The usual webinar format is the “expert” talks to his slides for 30-40 minutes, then some marketing geek from the vendor talks about their product for 10 minutes. Not this one: it’s a very dynamic conversation between Mr. Sinur and Michael Crosno, President of Global 360, and both of these guys are really smart about BPM. Yes, Mr. Crosno talks about Global 360 product features, but it’s used as a springboard for Mr. Sinur to talk about the importance of specific functionality in the current and future BPM suites marketplace.

A few really great insights. The first one is was that legacy BPM deployments are more likely to have been for the purpose of reducing paper, whereas the new deployments are all about streamlining processes and improving productivity, with a new and increasingly important focus on extending the enterprise. Although this is something that we all know by gut feel, it’s good to see some real numbers behind it:

The second insight is that customer requirements are evolving from enterprise content management (ECM) to enterprise process management: a shift from information lifecycles to process lifecycles. As a “column 2” advocate, I’m really glad to see Gartner recognizing the shift in focus from content to process. Mr. Sinur showed a scale that started with image management and went all the way through to business optimization, with the crossover from ECM to EPM happening between portals and process execution. He puts “workflow” in the ECM space, that is, the subset of BPM that is used for content lifecycle management.

Another point was the trend for CRM vendors to integrate BPM with their products, usually by buying or OEM’ing in a third-party product, because they see it as an essential part of managing the customer relationship. I’ve been seeing this trend lately as well, such as with Onyx‘s acquisition of a BPM product and their current push to integrate it into their mainstream CRM product.

By far the best webinar that I’ve listened to in months. The slides and the audio playback will be available tomorrow on Global 360’s site.

BPM in compliance

I’m listening in on a Ziff Davis webinar “The State of Business Integration: An Overview of Patterns and Best Practices”, featuring Ajay Patel, VP of of Server Technology for Oracle. In the course of the webinar, they’ve been doing a few listener polls, and this one was particularly interesting:

In other words, 27% of the webinar listeners consider BPM to be the most important technology for their compliance efforts, second only to corporate reporting/BI at 33%.

Minimalist view in IE

Just noticed that this blog (and my wine blog) are not visible in Internet Explorer: just an empty page. Fine in Firefox, so it took me a while to notice that something is wrong in IE. Both blogs are published via FTP, and a test blog that I did on blogspot works fine, so I suspect that it’s something in the publishing. Any ideas on how to repair this are welcome!

Update: I stripped out all the formatting to an external CSS file a few days ago, which appears to be causing the problem. When I re-included the contents of the CSS file in my blogger template, all is well again. Not the expected behaviour.

BPM as part of BAM

A few more notes on today’s ebizQ webinar on BAM. Ms Gold-Bernstein talked about another topic close to my heart, namely that BPM is one of the contributing sources to BAM/performance management, rather than BAM being a part of BPM (as the BPM vendors would have you believe). The term “BAM” was originally coined by Gartner, so they’ve had first dibs at saying what is and is not BAM:

BAM defines the concept of providing real-time access to critical business performance indicators, along with the supporting information to improve the speed and effectiveness of business operations.BAM is accomplished by monitoring multiple systems, creating real-time dashboards, and using context and rules to detect the occurrence of a pre-defined set of circumstances.

They list BAM technologies as including BPM, integration middleware (arguably part of BPM under Gartner’s own definition), BI, dashboards with KPIs (which I would consider part of BI), and IT operational management (ditto). Since BAM is defined as a concept and is linked to all of these technologies, there are a lot of vendors from all different areas scrambling to get into BAM magic quadrant — not unlike what’s happening with BPM vendors ever since Gartner lumped together all process-related technologies as “BPM”.

To confuse things further, Gartner’s report on the convergence of BPM and BAM lists three main areas of overlap, and therefore potential conflict:

  • BPM acting as “BPM+BAM”
  • BPM serving as BAM’s response mechanism or recipient
  • BPM ? or business process analysis (BPA) ? serving as a passive analytic/visualization model for BAM

Prior to Gartner defining BAM, there was performance management, which is more focussed on the BI side of the equation, including technologies such as BI, dashboards and, lately, CEP (complex event processing). Although the goals of performance management are fundamentally the same as BAM (business alignment, real-time KPIs), the scope is narrower by excluding BPM and middleware technologies.

Somehow, the concept of performance management as pure business intelligence makes more sense to me than including (rather arbitrarily) some of the technologies that produce the data that feed into the performance management. If BPM is included as one of BAM’s technologies, why not databases, or CRM, or any other technology within an enterprise that produces data that may be of interest to management? In fact, if there’s a technology within an enterprise that doesn’t contribute data to performance management KPIs, why is it there?

Strategic process optimization

A webinar going on right now on BPM, BAM and SOA: Optimizing both Business and IT focussing on the ROI of process integration. Beth Gold-Bernstein contrasted the tactical versus strategic approaches to process integration:

  • Tactical approach requires defining underlying integration infrastructure
  • Strategic approach — enterprise integration architecture defines infrastructure, business defines the process

This goes back to one of the key ideas that I’ve been working with lately, namely the role of process and BPM in an enterprise architecture framework.

She also made a distinction between web services orchestration and business process management, where she sees WSO as providing a graphic way to design and control flow between web services, but without all the process governance (monitoring, analytics, management and simulation) that you would find in BPM. Given the role being assigned to BPEL, is this just another artificial distinction in the process marketplace?

BPM Think Tank

I couldn’t make it down to Philadelphia this week for the AIIM conference, but if you’re there, consider dropping in for the BPM Think Tank task group sessions organized by BPMI that form part of the WfMC meetings.

After an initial think tank meeting in Miami in March, three working groups were formed: Execution, Modeling, and Education, and the latter two of these will be meeting this week. If you want to see what happened at the meetings in March and keep up to date on these joint meetings, check out the Specifications section of the BPMI.org forum (no registration required unless you want to post a comment). You might also find out something about that rumour of BPMI and WfMC merging.

BPM and measuring performance

A week ago today, I was in a tutorial by Roger Burlton of the Process Renewal Group on Enterprise Business Architecture: Strategy, Process and Capabilty Alignment while at the BPMG conference in London. He made a great analogy regarding performance measures: knowing the final score doesn’t tell you if it was a good game. (Although after once watching the Blue Jays lose 22-2, I posit that you could have told that it was a crappy game by the score alone.) Roger was one of many people at the conference who spoke about BPM in the context of measuring business goals. To quote Terry Schurter, who I heard speak the following day at his session BPMS – Selection by Business Value, “goals that can’t be measured aren’t goals”.

All this shows that BPM is finally creeping out of departments and into the mainstream of the enterprise. I read a post about a CEO’s view of BPM as discussed at a recent CEO roundtable today on the Milestone Group’s Thoughts On The Tech Industry blog that really nailed it:

BPM, or Business Process Management is the fasting growing segment in the BI / Data Management market sector. Growing out of departmental process management initiatives, the key driver now is to integrate across the enterprise, and to provide scorecards, reports, and other “C Level” deliverables with more confidence, so that predictive modeling and optimization initiatives are really based on the most complete and highest quality set of data available in the enterprise.

The CEOs consider BPM as a feed for enterprise BI/performance management, which is completely accurate — after all, why else would you be doing BPM if not to improve performance, and why would you be doing anything to improve performance if you weren’t also including it in your enterprise performance measures?