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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

BPM Software Leadership: Perceptions Centric Vs Analyst Endorsed

Increasingly shriller voice like that of the very balanced M.R.Rangaswami of Sandhill.com questioning the the growth opportunities for enterprise software keep getting heard. Quite true considering the trends/ developments of recent times. A deeper assessment of the enterprise software maturity in terms of reality Vs perception – atleast in cutting edge/ newer areas look very interesting. Business Process Management is one of the hottest areas that would see lot more action in the coming days. A close examination of the products that are available in this important space reveals that somewhere between the analysts' picture of BPM and users' perceptions of technology leadership, there's a major disconnect – but still these hardly get noticed.
Bruce Silver points to user survey results that show IBM, Microsoft and Oracle as leaders of BPM much to the chagrin of "pureplay" BPM suite vendors, who in reality fulfill the industry analysts view of must-have functionality & are much more ardent embracers of BPM philosophy Viz business performance optimization through modeling, human task automation and business activity monitoring (BAM). BPM systems are the evolution and merging of a number of software categories – process modelling tools, workflow platforms, software integration middleware, business intelligence tools and simulation tools. BPM integrates the activities of employees, departments, applications, customers and partners into unified processes. A BPM system runs supervisory applications that integrate and balance human activities with automated IT systems. Processes are managed explicitly as a new type of business record, rather than remaining implied, embedded and dispersed across business units, departments, human practices and fragmented software systems and presented for monitoring measures of performance as KPI data. Bruce Silver rightly argues that examined from this perspective

- Oracle’s philosophy of BPM is questionable - Only 10 percent of a company's business processes are "structured" and addressable by BPM, while BAM can monitor performance of the other "unstructured" 90 percent. Clearly oracle isn't buying the model-automate-optimize vision of BPM.

-Microsoft describes only BizTalk as "BPM," but says it won't be WWF-enabled until the version following BizTalk Server 2006, ruling itself out of contention.

- IBM shows promise by integrating the execution piece with optional business-oriented tools for process modeling, simulation and performance management. In doing so, it matches the functional capabilities of the leading BPM pure plays – but in all IBM’s direction is centered towards SOA.

BPM goes beyond Web services orchestration – binding activities that integrate business modeling, simulation, business rules, analytics and BAM, thereby connecting business analysts and process owners more directly to IT solutions. Through massive ERP implementations - individual business processes across enterprises are becoming faster and more reliable, but much less intelligent. There is now little differentiation between competing processes and much less flexibility to deal with change –BPM implementations are supposed to provide intelligence to such processes and do it with lot more focussed and lighter codes as against interfused amidst heavy duty enterprise implementations. In an high impact arena like this it is supreme irony that BPM pureplay vendors who have largely implemented this vision aren't getting the recognition for it. Already substantial challenge exists for BPM players to demonstrate ROI in traditional frameworks - buffeted as they are between infrastructure players and enteprise applications. It is time that we begin to recognize the players based on their capabilities and general strengths and not necessarily look at the big players for all types of solutions – Big players need to be grilled a lot more in their ability to provide emerging cutting edge solutions on specific niche areas– while they may be the starting posts for any enterprise procurements – as things evolve it may become the case that they may not be seen near the end posts in evaluation post everytime. Therein may lay the solution for the growth of the enterprise software sector and the ability of business to overall extract better value from IT. Bryan Stolle once wrote there is still much innovation to be done, especially as the market gets more and more vertically focused. With the current moods however many innovative vendors will have to shut their doors before they get the chance to be the next Salesforce.com. Big vendors also need to begin to get measured on new parameters like innovation /innovation absorption, to ensure that they stay along the curve of progress. As I wrote recently I do not see how the large platform players can do away super special players( there are many of them - some have existed for decades - though a majority of them for just under a decade) or provide justice with specialized smaller companies like rules engines, collaboration systems, content management systems, document management systems, procurement solutions, business intelligence etc. Clearly there shall be several smaller companies that would co-exist as part of the larger enterprise ecosystem. Big vendors may not be the only choice for connecting all the dots in enterprise space(while unarguably they shall hold the central place there) - other specialist/niche players also hold a legitimatley well earned space - the sooner this is understood and get reflected in thoughts and actions - the better it is for the complete enteprise ecosystem - without further straining the already near fatigued corporate buyer sentiments.

Category :Enterprise Solutions,
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