Category Archives: conferences

What’s on your agenda for 2017? Some BPM conferences to consider

I just saw a call for papers for a conference for next October, and went through to do a quick update of my BPM Event Calendar. I certainly don’t attend all of these events, but like to keep track of who’s doing what, when and where. Here’s what I have in there so far; if you have others, send me a note or add them as a comment to this post and I’ll add to the calendar. I’m posting just the major conferences here, not every regional seminar.

Many vendors are eschewing a single large annual conference in favor of several regional conferences, easing the travel concerns of attendees; since these are usually just one day long, they aren’t announced this far in advance. It will be interesting to see if more vendors decide to go this way, or do more livestreaming to allow people to participate in more of the conference content remotely.

At this point, I don’t have confirmed attendance or speaking spots at any of these, although I will almost certainly be attending bpmNEXT and a few of the vendor conferences, either as a speaker or as an analyst/blogger. If you’re interested in having me attend your conference, let me know; I require that my travel expenses are covered (otherwise they come out of my own pocket in addition to the billable days that I’m giving up to attend), and a speaking fee if you want me to do a keynote or other presentation.

Avoiding a surfeit of conferences

This time of year, I’m usually flying back and forth to Las Vegas to engage in the fall conference season: software vendors hold their annual user conferences, and invite me to attend in exchange for covering most of my travel expenses. They don’t pay me to attend unless I give a presentation – in fact, many are not even my clients – and since I’m self-employed, that means I’m giving up billable days to attend. Usually, I consider that a fair trade, since it allows me to get a closer look at the products and talk to the vendor’s employees and customers, and I typically blog about what I see.

This year, however, I stepped away from most of the conferences, including the entire slate of fall events. A couple of family crises over the summer required a lot of my attention and energy, and when I started getting requests to attend fall conferences, I just didn’t feel that they were worth my time.

Many vendors have become overly focused on the amount of blogging that I do at their conference, rather than on strengthening our relationship. My conference blogging, described as “almost like being there”, is seen by some vendors as a savant party trick, and they consider themselves cheated in some way if I don’t publish enough content during the conference. What they forget is that by attending their conference, I’m gaining insights into their company and products that I can use in future discussions with enterprise clients, as well as in any future projects that I might do with the vendor. I generate revenue as a consultant and industry analyst; blogging is something that I do to analyze and solidify my observations, to discuss opinions with others in the field, and to expand my business reach, but I’m never paid for it, and it is never a condition of attending an event – at least in my mind.

Another factor is the race to the bottom in travel expenses. Many vendors require that they book my air travel, and when booking the one conference that I was going to attend this fall, I asked their travel group to pay the $20 fee to select a decent (economy) seat for the 5-hour tourist-class flight, but they refused. Many times in the past I’ve just paid for seat assignments and upgrades out of my own pocket, but this time it became about the principle: the vendor in question, who is not an active client of mine, placed that little value on my attendance.

So if you’re a vendor, here’s the deal. A paid client relationship with me is not a prerequisite of me attending your conference, and has never been in the past, but there has to be a mutual recognition of the value that we each bring to the table. I bring 25 years of experience and opinions as a systems implementer, consultant and industry analyst, and I offer those opinions freely in conversation: consider it free consulting while I’m at your conference. I expect to gain insights into your company, products and customers, through public conference sessions and private discussions. I may blog about what I see and hear (at least the parts not under non-disclosure), or use that information in future discussions with enterprise clients. Or I may not, if I don’t find it relevant or interesting. Lastly, when you ask me to fly somewhere, keep in mind that it is not a treat for me to travel to Las Vegas or Orlando, and at least make sure that I’m not in the middle seat at the back of a 50-row aircraft.

As always, everything after the bar opens is off the record.

KofaxTransform 2015 In Pictures

As I prepared to depart Las Vegas, I flicked through some of my photos from the past couple of days and decided to share. First, the great work of the ImageThink team of graphic recorders:







There were more of these that I didn’t capture; great idea and nice execution. 

We had a fun evening event on Monday at Tao nightclub at the Venetian, with an impressive turnout considering that it wasn’t in the same hotel:



I also captured some Vegas day and night shots from my hotel room at the Aria:





Lastly, our Kofax-branded tiramisu dessert from the awards dinner last night:



A good mix of work and play!

SAP TechEd Keynote with @_bgoerke

I spent yesterday getting to Las Vegas for SAP TechEd && d-code and missed last night’s keynote with Steve Lucas, but up this morning to watch Björn Goerke — head of SAP Product & Innovation Technology — give the morning keynote on putting new technology into action. With the increasing rate of digital disruption, it’s imperative to embrace new ways of doing business, or risk becoming obsolete; this requires taking advantage of big data and real-time analytics as well as modern platforms. SAP’s current catch phrase is “Run Simple”, based in part on the idea of “one truth”, that is, one place for all your data so that you have a real-time view of your business rather than relying on separate sources for operations and analytics. You can’t run — and respond — at the speed that business requires if your analytics are based on yesterday’s transactions.

SAP HANA — their in-memory data store — allows for real-time analytics directly on operational transaction data, events, IoT machine data, social media data and more, all in a single data store. With the release of SAP HANA SPS09, they are adding support for dynamic tiering, streaming, enterprise information management, graphing, Hadoop user-defined functions, and multi-tenancy; these improve the management capabilities as well as the functionality. SAP deploys all of their business software solutions on HANA (although some more traditional databases are still supported in some products) with the goal to providing the basis for the “one truth” within business data.

Goerke was joined on stage by a representative from Alliander, an energy distribution company based in the Netherlands, and he demonstrated a HANA-based analytical dashboard based on geographic data that reduces the time required for geospatial queries — such as filtering by pipelines that are within a certain distance from buildings — from hours using more traditional database technology, to seconds with HANA. Geospatial data is one of the areas where in-memory data and analytics can really make a difference in terms of performance; I did a lot of my early-career software development on geospatial data, and there are some tough problems here that are not easily addressed by more traditional tools.

Another part of the simplicity message is “one experience” via the SAPUI5-based Fiori, providing for a more unified experienced between desktop and mobile, including management and distribution of mobile apps. They’ve added offline capabilities for their mobile apps – a capability widely ignored or dismissed as “unimportant” by developers who live and work only in areas blanketed in 4G and WiFi coverage, but critical in many real-world applications. Goerke demonstrated using some of the application development services — with some “help” from Ian Kimbell — to define an API, use it to create a mobile app, deploy it to a company app store, then install and run it: not something that most executives do live on stage at a keynote.

SAP now has a number of partnerships with hardware and infrastructure vendors to optimize their gear for SAP and especially for HANA: last week we saw an announcement about SAP running on the IBM cloud, and today we heard about how sgi is taking their well-known computational hardware capabilities and applying them to running transactional platforms such as SAP. SAP has also partnered with small software development shops to deliver the innovations in HANA-based applications needed to drive this forward. Applications developed on HANA can run on premise or in SAP’s managed cloud (and now IBM’s managed cloud), where they manage HANA and the SAP applications including Business Suite and Business Warehouse. Through a number of strategic acquisitions, SAP has much more than just your ERP and financials, however: they offer solutions for HR management, procurement, e-commerce, customer engagement and more. They also offer a rich set of development tools and application services for software development unrelated to SAP applications, allowing for applications built and deployed on HANA with modern mobile user interfaces and collaboration. In keeping with Goerke’s Star Trek theme in the keynote, very Borg-like. 🙂

Lots more here than I could possibly capture; you can watch the keynotes and other presentations online at SAP TechEd online.

Fall 2013 Conferences: Where I’ll Be

I’ve had a summer of tending to my enterprise customers, but October and November are when I kiss the hubby (and cat) goodbye and head for the vendor conferences. In some cases, I’m giving a presentation; in others, just checking things out and possibly blogging about what I see and hear there.

Here’s where I’ll be this fall:

If you’re going to be at one of these events, ping me so that we can meet up, or drop by my presentation.

That looks a bit crazy (especially the part about three trips to Vegas in a month), but there are others that I’ll be missing out due to conflicts: iBPMS Expo and IBM’s IOD, to name two. Also, a couple of local Toronto events that I’ll miss because I’m travelling, including AIIM’s Information Governance seminar and IBM’s Smarter Content Summit.

Disclosure: As I discuss on my Legal page, if I attend a vendor conference to watch and blog, I am not paid but my travel expenses are covered by the vendor unless it’s in the Toronto area; if I give a presentation, it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m being paid a fee to do so. In either case, I am not compensated for anything that I write here on my blog (which the exception of the publication of my presentation slides), although it’s fair to say that vendors who host me at their conferences get more coverage simply because I have greater exposure to their products and customers. If you’re interesting in having me attend or present at one of your events in the future, drop me a line.

IBMImpact Next Week

I’m off to IBM Impact next week, where I’m speaking on a panel on Monday afternoon about “What’s Next For BPM”, along with Neil Ward-Dutton, Bruce Silver, Eric Herness and Pierre Haren, hosted by Irene Lyakovetsky. I’ll also be attending the analyst briefings and will post about what’s new with IBM BPM, Blueworks Live and related products. Annoyingly, there doesn’t appear to be any way to see the agenda unless you’re signed up for the conference, meaning that I can’t link directly to session descriptions, but will blog about whatever I attend if I have time.

It will be a pretty crammed few days, but if you’re going to be there and want to say hi, let me know and we can try to connect. And speaking of connecting, get yourself invited to the BP3 Connect cocktail hour on Tuesday evening (I’m sure that Scott Francis can help you with that), I’ll be there for sure [and everything will be off the record, if you know what I mean 🙂 ].

IBMConnect (Lotusphere) 2013 Highlights: Product Updates, Smarter Workforce and Smarter Commerce

A couple of weeks ago, IBM had two analyst calls about the announcements this week at IBM Connect 2013; since I’m not at the conference, I wrote most of this at that time but only published today due to embargo restrictions. It’s the 20th anniversary of Lotusphere, although the conference is no longer branded as Lotusphere since the “smarter workforce” and “smarter commerce” streams are beyond just products with a Lotus heritage or brand.

The first briefing featured Jeff Schick, who heads up social software at IBM. He discussed new software and cloud services to put social business capabilities in the hands of C-level executives in HR and marketing, covering the dual goals of managing corporate intranets and talent, and managing external marketing campaigns. The catchphrases are “Activate the Workforce” and “Delight Customers”, enabled by IBM social business solutions for Smarter Workforce and Smarter Commerce, built on the social integration capabilities of IBM WebSphere Portal.

Specific product releases coming up in the next several weeks:

  • IBM Connections v4.5, with FileNet ECM now available as a native service: documents and their processes (processes within FileNet, I assume, not within IBM BPM) can be integrated into a Connections community, exposing FileNet functionality such as metadata and foldering through Connections, and providing fully integrated social capabilities such as tagging, commenting and liking, making content a first-class social citizen. This is hot. It will not include records management or Case Manager: it appears that these functions would be available on the FileNet side, but not exposed (at this time) through Connections. Quickr customers are being offered a migration path to IBM Connections Content Manager, which is a bundled FileNet repository that can be upgraded to the full ECM suite if you wanted to use it outside the Connections context. Connections can also integrate with SharePoint and Outlook, so is an option even if you’re a Microsoft customer in those areas.
  • IBM Notes 9 Social Edition, competing against Outlook 2013 with social-enabled email, activity Streams and other social capabilities.
  • IBM Docs for web-based collaboration, now available on-premise as well as in the cloud. This competes against Office 365 and Google Docs, but offers better collaboration than O365 (which requires passing control of a document between collaborators) and better rendering/conversion of Office documents than GDocs. IBM Docs is integrated with Connections for social features and sharing, in the same sort of way as Content Manager.
  • IBM Sametime replaces their existing meeting service in the cloud, including iOS and Android support. It uses the Polycom framework for video and audio support.
  • Deployment of all of this can be public cloud, private cloud, on-premise (not really sure of the distinction there) or a hybrid of these. Their SmartCloud for Social Business provides for the cloud deployment and adds wiki, blogs and other social authoring functionality. SmartCloud has Safe Harbor certification, making it a bit mire immune to government snooping, and can be private-labeled, with two telelcom companies already using this to provide these capabilities to their customers.

Everything is focused on mobile: mobile meetings, chat, Connections including Content Manager access, Docs and more.

Jonathan Ferrar, who heads up strategy for the Smarter Workforce business area, gave us an update on what they’re providing to support attracting, empowering and motivating employees. They have just completed their acquisition of Kenexa, and offer a portfolio of HR and workforce management products that includes behavioral sciences plus the entire platform for social business that Schick talked about, including analytics, collaboration and content management.

There are three main functional areas related to workforce management: attract (including recruitment, hiring, onboarding), empower (including learning and intranet content such as benefits and procedures), and motivate (including surveys, assessments and talent management). An integrated employee and HR portal uses existing IBM portal technology to expose Kennexa functionality and social features. There are also workforce analytics to monitor, provide insight and predict based on demographic, qualitative and social data, using both Cognos for dashboards and SPSS for analysis. There’s also some features related to outsourcing but not a lot of details; I was left with the impression that this was a strong capability of Kennexa prior to the acquisition.

I don’t know a lot about HR systems, although I’m seeing a huge potential to integrate this with operational systems such as BPM to drive analytics from the operational systems to the HR systems (e.g., employee performance measures), and even some from HR to the operational systems (e.g., learning management to push training to people at the point in their work when they need the training).

In the second briefing, we heard from Larry Bowden, VP of Web Experience software at IBM, covering the website building and user experience sides of Smarter Commerce and Social Business. He started out the the same “smarter workforce/exceptional customer experience” catchphrases as we heard on the earlier call, then went on to highlight some of their customers recognized for exceptional web experience awards in 2012. Web experience includes the smarter workforce (employee engagement, workplace social portal) and smarter commerce (web presence and brand marketing, buy, sell, market) areas, but also can include direct business uses (e.g., online banking, claims), engaging a broad variety of constituents (e.g., e-government), and customer self-service. The core of the IBM customer experience suite, however, is on the buy, market, sell  and service capabilities under their Smarter Commerce umbrella. They are working at putting the web marketing/commerce capabilities directly into the hands of business users (although if this is anything similar to how most vendors put BPMS capabilities directly into the hands of business users, I wouldn’t be too worried if I were a web developer), including both web content management/analytics and campaign management.

The Smarter Workforce and Smarter Commerce solutions are built on the IBM Social Business Platform, as we heard from Schick earlier, which includes WebSphere Portal, Web Content Manager, Connections, Notes & Domino Social Edition, Sametime, Social Analytics Suite, ECM, Web Experience Factory and Forms. That’s nine products just in the platform, then the Customer Experience Suite and Employee Experience Suite solutions built on top of that. Whew. There are other products that come in at the higher level, such as Worklight for mobile enablement.

There’s been a refresh on all of their web experience capabilities, resulting in a new IBM Web Experience “Next”, providing for faster content creation, social content rendering and multi-channel publishing. This is not so much a product as the list of everything across their product base that is being updated, and a more consistent user interface.

There’s a new digital asset management system for rich media management (part of a WCM Rich Media Edition?), although that’s currently in tech preview rather than released.

They’ve also done some PureSystems updates that make it faster to deploy and optimized complex configurations of the multiple IBM products required to support these capabilities – arguably, they should have spent some time on refactoring and reducing the number of products, rather than working out how to make bigger and better hardware to support these patterns.

As always after an IBM briefing, I’m left with a sense of almost overwhelming complexity in the number — and possible combinations — of products that make up these integrated solutions. Powerful: yes. But expect some rough edges in the integration.

Wanted: UK/European Customer Case Studies For IRM BPM London, June 2013

Each year for the past few years, I’ve been a speaker at the IRM BPM conference in London; this year, it’s June 11-13 at the Radisson Blu Portman Square, and is co-located with the Enterprise Architecture conference. There’s always a good lineup of speakers, including half-day workshops, keynotes and breakout sessions on a variety of tracks.

This year, they’re looking for a few more UK and European customer case study presentations at the conference. If you have an interesting BPM initiative going on in your organization that you’d like to present, or if you’re a vendor and have a customer who might fit the bill, contact conference co-chair Roger Burlton, rburlton (at) bptrendsassociates.com. The call for speakers ended in December, but I know that they have some spots available for customer case studies.

What’s Next For BPM? bpmNEXT!

Sometime last year, I ran into Bruce Silver at a conference, and he told me about a new conference that he was planning together with Nathaniel Palmer, called bpmNEXT. As Bruce described it then, and as it says on the recently launched website, “Part TED, part DEMO, part Think Tank, bpmNEXT is not your usual BPM conference”. The concept is to see and discuss BPM innovation, not the same old stuff that we see at so many BPM vendor and analyst conferences every year, and to do it through demonstrations of new technology and ideas as well as presentations. I remember chatting with him at the time about how we needed to have something like the BPM Think Tanks back in the day when they were really about vendors, analysts and hard-core practitioners getting together to hash through ideas about how the industry needed to evolve. Then 2008 came, Think Tank tried to become a business-focused BPM conference with lots of case studies from customers, and it died a quick death – you can look back through my posts on three years of BPM Think Tank to see how it evolved.

We need a place where people involved in creating the next generation of BPM software can get together and collaborate, even if they’re competitors outside the conference. bpmNEXT has the potential to become that place.

bpmNEXT is now ready to go for March 19-21 at the Asilomar resort in Pacific Grove (Monterey), a 2-hour drive south San Francisco. The speaker list is impressive: these are all vendors, but the topics are focused on emerging capabilities. Process mining, analytics, simulation, internet of things, mobile, cloud, ACM and more; Bruce has a summary of the program in his latest blog post. Lots of people who I know, and many who I know virtually and look forward to meeting face-to-face.

You’ve already missed the extreme early bird pricing that they had last fall, but there is still a chance to sign up at a discount until February 19th – note that the price includes two nights lodging and meals. You can download a brochure here; I’m listed as a media sponsor, which means that I will be blogging from bpmNEXT, but I am only being comped the conference portion of the fee, not any travel and living expenses, and I’m definitely not being paid for my time.

I hope to see you there. If you’re in the Bay area and want to connect with me that week outside the conference days, let me know early enough that I can make extended travel arrangements.

TIBCO BPM Product Update and Strategy

The TUCON 2012 keynotes are done, and all of my analyst meetings have finished, so I’m free to attend some of the breakout sessions. This afternoon, I went to the BPM update with Roger King (director of BPM product strategy) and Justin Brunt (BPM product manager).

The current AMX BPM release is 1.3.1, with 2.0.0 coming in November, bringing a number of enhancements:

  • Some impressive performance statistics within a single engine: 20,000 simultaneous users opening and completing work items, and management of 1.6M process instances and 18.8m activities in a 10-hour working day.
  • Better administrative tools for managing halted process instances, including being able to examine the instance payload.
  • Worklist views can now be server-based, so that a filtered view of a work list is passed to the client rather than the entire list for client-side filtering.
  • Pageflow debugging and testing tools.
  • Calendaring to control deadlines and work assignment. This allows different calendars to be created for different business areas, each of which can have its own time zone, holiday schedule and working hours. These calendars are then used to calculate deadlines for work assigned to a business unit that references that calendar. Calendars can be assigned to work dynamically at runtime, or at design-time.
  • Changes to the in-process event handling, with improved support for event handler patterns including non-interrupting boundary events for catching external thrown events.
  • Enhancements to work item deadline handling and priority management.
  • Immediate reply with process ID when starting a process instance using a web service.
  • Optimization of large forms when they are used as application interfaces.

This is a fairly long list of mostly minor features, specifically to address customer requests, and gets the x.0 numbering only to indicate that it’s moving from an early-stage to stable product version.

Going forward, they’re looking a satisfying the needs of the initial customers and core market, then adding features for the pure BPMS functionality and intelligent business platform. The high priority candidates include a number of performance enhancements, plus improvements to single sign-on and multi-tenancy. Medium priorities include enhanced form control support; getting BPM event data into external systems by defining custom events and including business data in externally published events; enhanced access control; enhanced web services; and greater control over process instance data purging.

In order to compete better in the BPMS market, they’re looking at updating their standards compliance (BPMS 2.0 and CMIS), and providing a case management offering. Case management will include an adaptive end user interface, global case data and content management integration, improved integration with social streams including tibbr and Nimbus, and plan-based process management (i.e., using a Gantt chart style interface). They will be moving onto the Silver Marketplace structure for public cloud, which I know will be exciting for a number of customers.

Looking at the intelligent business platform functionality, their vision includes event intelligence and the use of realtime data to inform process execution. There will also be enhancements to their AMX Decisions rules product, which is pretty rudimentary right now.

iProcess is still alive and well, with a list of performance and feature enhancements, but they’re certainly not encouraging new development on iProcess. However, they do not appear to be throwing the existing iProcess customers under the bus by sunsetting the product any time soon.

BPM systems are becoming complete development environment for enterprise application development, and any BPMS needs to offer a complete suite of capabilities for application developers as well as business analyst and end-user tools. AMX BPM is continuing to build out their feature set, in part by integrating with other products in their portfolio, and they offer a fairly complete set of functions as they move into the version 2.x product cycle. The challenge for them is not so much new customers, which they are now well-positioned to win, but in convincing the existing iProcess customers to redevelop their iProcess applications on AMX BPM, or at least to start new application development on AMX BPM.