It’s My 16th Blogaversary

Sixteen years ago, with some trepidation, I hit the Publish button for the first time on Column 2, posting a review of the BPTrends 2005 BPM Suites Report. This was early in the social media days, and I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in anything that I had to write about. Since then, I’ve written 2,236 posts and 1,026,740 words. My readers from all over the world have contributed 2,095 comments. The readership stats are not completely accurate, since I’ve transferred platforms twice and they would have been reset at those points, although the last change was quite a number of years ago. Based on the current site stats, aside from the Home and About Me pages, the most popular post of all time is Policies, procedures, processes and rules from 2007. More readers are from the US than any other country, although India and Germany have respectable second and third place showings.

Social publishing platforms come and go, and I occasionally dabble in other places such as LinkedIn and Medium, but I believe that maintaining control over my content is important. I choose to make this open platform (self-hosted WordPress) my main platform, rather than a proprietary walled garden that may limit who sees what I write, or go out of business and take my content with them.

When I started writing this blog, I was doing similar technical strategy and architecture consulting work to what I do now. The exposure that I have from writing here has leveraged me into a different and complementary business, and I now spend half my time as an indepedent industry analyst. That started with me asking for free press passes to vendor and industry conferences, since I was writing about the conferences; eventually, the value of what I was writing was recognized, and vendors started to invite me to attend (covering my travel expenses) and include me in analyst sessions and product briefings. Now, they hire me to help with internal strategy, as well as to write and present on thought-leadership and educational topics regarding our industry.

Writing this blog has expanded my business social circle enormously, and I count as friends (or at least friendly business colleagues) many people who I have met because I hit that Publish button. Without a doubt, it has been transformational for me, both in business and in life.

Blast from the past: what I was writing about on Column 2 in 2010

After I posted earlier this week about top 10 blog posts for 2019, I decided to take a look back at my archives and see what was happening 10 years ago. We were just starting to crawl out of a recession, and interesting things were happening in the industry.

Acquisitions! IBM had announced the acquisition of Lombardi just before Christmas 2009, and closed the deal in January 2010. Also that month, Progress Software acquired Savvion. Later that year, I ranted briefly about how when vendors acquire multiple overlapping products, it’s not good for the customers.

Standards! BPMN 2.0 neared release, and started to gain traction with many vendors. There was a fiery online debate about the use of BPMN by business people later in the year.

Conferences! The academic BPM conference came to North America for the first time, landing at the Stevens Institute in New Jersey. I spoke at the Software 2010 conference in Oslo on BPM and Enterprise 2.0 (what we would now call social BPM), a topic I’d been covering since 2006 and was “discovered” by the large analyst firms around 2010. I went to a lot of vendor conferences that year, and blogged about them while there.

Cloud! Faced with a growing number of vendors offering cloud BPM products, I climbed up on my usual soapbox about how geography does matter when it comes to cloud, at least US versus non-US hosting locations. It took some vendors a long time (and a few EU regulations) to realize this.

Case management! This was definitely the year that case management started to hit the BPM vendors’ radar, with many of them adding or acquiring capabilities to handle less-structured processes. I did a webinar with Keith Swenson on the top of agile and social BPM: while Keith and I don’t always agree, we always have interesting conversations.

New products! The creators of jBPM moved over to Alfresco and started the Activiti project. The reverberations of this are still felt today, with both of those creators having moved on, and at least two notable forks of Activiti currently available.

Column 2 turned five that year, which means that this year will be fifteen years that I’ve been blogging.

The top Column 2 posts of 2019

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my post that has had the most visits over all time, a 2007 post on policies, procedures, processes and rules.

Here’s what was the most popular in 2020:

  1. That same 2007 post, Policies, procedures, processes and rules. Obviously, this theme strikes deep with a broad range of people, and a recent comment on that post was from someone who had used it as a source in developing definitions for the PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
  2. An even older post from 2005, Adaptive approaches. This is about application development and deployment methodologies, and would now be called “Agile”. I also talk about my usual method of “get something simpler into production sooner”, which would now be called “minimum viable product”. The only thing that has really changed here is terminology.
  3. The first product-related post, my 2012 post Introduction to AWD 10. I was at the user conference for DST Systems, now part of SS&C Technologies, and wrote about what I saw at a session where they presented the new product version.
  4. Another terminology post, this one from 2017: What’s in a name? BPM and DPA. This was prompted by Forrester’s move to relabel business process management (BPM) systems as Digital Process Automation (DPA), and the ongoing confusion in terminology. This problem continues today, with Gartner sticking to the term iBPMS (Intelligent BPM Suite) but shifting it to mean low-code application development platform.
  5. The first that was originally published in 2019, Snowed in at the OpenText Analyst Summit 2019. In the midst of a massive snowstorm (I arrived on one of the last flights before the airport shut down), I attended OpenText’s analyst meetup in Boston, and this post was on the main keynote featuring CEO Mark Barrenechea’s vision for their future product direction.
  6. From the 2019 bpmNEXT conference, bpmNEXT 2019 demos: microservices, robots and intentional processes with Bonitasoft, Signavio and Flowable. My conference live-blogging is usually popular with those who can’t make it to the conference themselves, but this post was likely read more than most because it covered the Flowable chatbot + CMMN demo that went on to win the “Best in Show” award.
  7. Another throwback to 2005, Shallow vs. Deep Knowledge. I was writing in response to a post from EDS that said that they believe that someone working on a business application based on vendor components really had to see the vendor’s source code to do this right. I disagreed.
  8. A post on service-oriented architecture standards from 2009, The Open Group’s Service Integration Maturity Model and SOA Governance Framework. This was the result of a briefing that I had with them in advance of the standards’ release; to be honest, I’ve never used these frameworks and have no idea how broadly they were adopted.
  9. A post from this year’s academic BPM conference in Vienna, Day 1 @BPMConf opening keynote: Kalle Lyytinen on the role of BPM in design and business model innovation. The keynote discussed the concept of digital intensity, namely, the degree to which digitalization is required to perform a task, and how technology is changing the way that we do things on a micro level.
  10. Another post from the academic BPM conference, Workshop at @BPMConf on BPM in the era of Digital Innovation and Transformation. This workshop day preceded the keynote mentioned above, and covered a number of talks on digital transformation. This is the only one of the top 10 posts for 2019 that covers a presentation that I made, since I was invited to give a short talk at the end of the workshop.

I blogged quite a bit less in 2019 (in fact, my blogging has been a bit slow the past couple of years) although I had a lot of activity around conferences and a few product briefings. I’ve been fairly active on Twitter, and I’m looking at ways to bring together some of the links that I post there onto the blog for more discussion.

Looking forward to 2020!

The Need for Goal Alignment — on the @trisotech blog

I’ll be writing a few guest posts over on the Trisotech blog, starting with this one on goal alignment through the hierarchy of your orgnization to make sure that you’re not only doing the right thing, but doing the thing right. As I mention over there, I have this conversation with almost every enterprise client that I talk to, and thought it would be good to put down some thoughts around a goal alignment structure like this:

This is (techinically) sponsored content, although I don’t discuss Trisotech products at all, so I’m not reprinting it here but encourage you to head over there and give it a read.

Cleaning up the deadwood…dead links, that is

I’ve been writing Column 2 for almost 13 years, and there’s quite a bit of crud that’s accumulated. I’ve also been seeing some performance problems that are completely out of line with the amount of traffic on the site, so doing some tuning as well.

Please be patient if you see any glitches on this site as well as my corporate website while I complete the following:

  • Moved to the more modern Twenty Sixteen WordPress theme, which is supposed to have better performance than the Twenty Thirteen theme that I was using. I’ve also replaced JPG graphics on the page design with much smaller GIF graphics.
  • Use Cloudflare as a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to cache all images from the site plus a lot of the content to help reduce load. This only includes images that are stored on my WordPress site, not those embedded from Flickr, but should help the load on the site as well as loading performance.
  • Added CAPTCHAs to certain countries and IP ranges that were pummeling the site for content scraping/indexing. If you’re in one of those, you’ll need to click a “I am not a robot” checkmark.
  • Enforced SSL (https). This was a bit of a process, since I had to track down all of the internal links and embedded objects that used http. If I link to your site and it’s http, that will still work but I really recommend that you update to SSL. I may just change http:// to // to provide a protocol-relative URL, which means that the site will map through to https if it exists, or http otherwise, which will be a bit more future-proof.
  • Added an EU Cookie Law banner, where you are notified that this site generates cookies, and you need to accept that to dismiss the banner. I don’t explicitly place cookies, but some of the WordPress services and embedded objects do. To my knowledge, there isn’t anything that’s particularly nefarious in there.
  • Remove the “links” posts: these were older posts generated from delicious and other link saving services. I haven’t been posting these since some time in 2010, when Twitter took over this type of sharing, and many of the links were dead.
  • Strip out the worst of the dead links. I’m using a broken link checker to find the most common of these (usually when a company changes its URL or ceases to exist) and will gradually get rid of them. This is a longer term project, I’ll keep combing through to find them in my spare time but will likely only fix up the past couple of years.
  • Replace the old Flickr Flash-based slideshow plugin with the newer embed code from Flickr. I tried using different plugins but they just don’t work as well; the only disadvantages of the direct Flickr embed is that the slideshow doesn’t auto-advance, you have to click on it to move forwards and backwards through the images, plus it has some wonky sizing sometimes when the images are of different sizes. I’m also gradually moving the screen snapshots over from my personal Flickr account to a dedicated Column 2 Flickr account, although the process of cleaning up the related links within posts is a bit of a pain.
  • Removed other old Flash embeds, such as the original method of embedding a Slideshare presentation.
  • SEO tuning through better use of post tags.

My goal is to create a faster, cleaner experience for readers with a minimum of clutter. If there are other tools that you’d like to see on the site, let me know: I’ve initially set it with search, top posts and categories for navigation.

Column 2 wrapup for 2017

As the year draws to an end, I’m taking a look at what I wrote here this year, and what you were reading.

OpenText pillowsI had fewer posts this year since I curtailed a lot of my conference travel, but still managed to publish 40 posts. I covered a few conferences – Big Data Toronto, OpenText Enterprise World, ABBYY Technology Summit, TIBCO NOW (as an uninvited gate-crasher) and some local AIIM seminars – and a variety of technology topics including BPM (or DPA/digital business as the terminology changes), low code, RPA, case management, decision management and capture.

Inexplicably, the two most read posts this year were one from 2007 on policies, procedures, processes and rules, and one from 2011 on BPMS pricing transparency. The most popular posts that were written this year were from OpenText Enterprise World, plus the page that I published listing the books and journals to which I’ve contributed.

Although US-based readers are the largest group by far, there was also a lot of traffic from India, Canada, Germany, UK and Australia, with many other countries contributing smaller amounts of traffic.

I also made some technical improvements: the site is now more secure via https, and uses Cloudflare to enforce security and fend off some of the spam bots that were killing performance, which has resulted in the use of CAPTCHAs for some IP ranges and countries.

Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting this year, and I look forward to engaging in 2018.

Happy New Year!

Twelve years – and a million words – of Column 2

In January, I read Paul Harmon’s post at BPTrends on predictions for 2017, and he mentioned that it was the 15th anniversary of BPTrends. This site hasn’t been around quite that long, but today marks 12 years of blogging here on Column 2. Coincidentally, my first post was on the BP Trends 2005 report on BPM suites!

In that time, I’ve written more than a million words in about 2,600 posts – haven’t quite got around to writing that book yet – documenting many conferences and products, as well as emerging trends and standards in BPM. I’ve collected over 3,000 comments from many of you, which I consider a measure of success: I write here to engage people and discuss ideas. Many of you have become clients, colleagues and friends over the years, and it’s always a thrill to meet someone for the first time and hear them say “I read your blog”. I know that I’ve inspired others to pick up that keyboard and start blogging, and my RSS reader is still the first place that I go for news about the industry (hint: I’m more likely to read your site if you publish a full RSS feed; I only get to the partial ones every week or so).

In the early days, I blogged more frequently, every couple of days; now I seem to be caught up in projects that consume a lot of my time and have less hours to spend focused on writing. Also, I’ve cut back on my business conference travel in the past year or so, attending only the ones where I’m presenting or where I feel that there is value for me, which gives me far fewer opportunities to blog about conference sessions. I’m not going to make any predictions about whether I’ll blog more or less in the next 12 years; I’m just happy to have a soapbox to stand on.

10 years on WordPress, 11+ blogging

This popped up in the WordPress Android app the other day:

This blog started in March 2005 (and my online journalling goes back to 2000 or so), but I passed through a Moveable Type phase before settling into self-hosted WordPress in June 2007, porting the complete history over at that time. WordPress continues to be awesome, including a great new visual editor in the latest Android version, although my flaky hosting provider is about to get the boot.

I’ve written 2,575 posts — an average of about one every business day, but quite unevenly distributed — and garnered almost 3,300 comments. Those posts include a total of almost 900,000 words, or 10 good-sized books. Maybe it’s time to actually write one of those books!

Reading And Writing Resolutions For 2014

The past year was a pretty busy one for me, with quite a bit of enterprise client work that I couldn’t discuss here, so my blogging was mostly limited to conferences that I attended and webinars/white papers that I created. Okay for information dissemination, but not so much for starting conversations, which is why I started blogging 9 years, 2,400 posts and 850k words ago. I’m also way behind on my reading of other blogs, so much so that the older unread ones are starting to drop out of my newsreader.

Catching up on the reading will likely involve committing a drastic act in my newsreader (clearing all unread – yikes!), trimming down the blogs that I follow, and making time regularly to browse for interesting developments in blogs and Twitter.

Getting back to some more interesting writing will follow from the reading: reading other people’s interesting ideas always helps me to generate some of my own, then it’s just a matter of putting hands to keyboard on a regular basis, and letting the ideas out into the wild.

Here’s to 2014!

New Theme for Column2.com

I’ve been looking for a new theme for this blog that has more functionality built in, especially a more responsive feel on mobile devices. With the latest upgrade to WordPress 3.6 and the release of the Twenty Thirteen theme, I thought that I’d give it a try. I’ve left the sidebar pretty much the same, although removed the Pages and Search items because they are in the theme’s title bar, and added links to my online social presence. I added a custom header image that matches my business cards. The default location for widgets with this theme is at the bottom, but I need to think about whether I want to exclude any content before I move to that format. There are now nested comments, gravatars and the ability to login using your social media accounts in order to post a comment.

Let me know if there are any strange behaviors on any platforms. I’ve tested it on Chrome and IE (newer versions only) on Windows, Chrome and Safari on iOS, and Chrome and Firefox on Android; so far, so good. Note that the mobile theme in Jetpack is disabled; otherwise the header was a bit wonky. The header is a bit large on an iPhone but looks okay on the desktop and tablet versions, and the header fonts are a bit big on the desktop; I’ll continue to do some tuning. And hopefully start adding some meaningful content again soon.