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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action

Michael Dortch

Microsoft and Health Care: Going Vertical with BPM?

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Microsoft Corp. announced that it had won the first new customer for its Azyxxi health care management software since Microsoft acquired the company behind that software last year. New York Presbyterian Hospital will use the software, developed by actual doctors working with software developers, to gather administrative, clinical, and financial data from systems at five major health-care centers in the New York metropolitan area.

Hmm. Software developed with input from practitioners of specific, particular processes, "business" and otherwise? Deployed in ways that span multiple locations and platforms to deliver actionable information to various "enterprise" role-players? Sounds a lot like human-centric BPM, or, if you like (and I do), "business knowledge management" (BKM) to me.

This is also coincident with how Microsoft is integrating Microsoft Office and its Dynamics business applications with back-end systems such as those from SAP AG. This type of integration, combined with capture of information about the use of "front-end" Office and Dynamics applications, also leads inexorably toward BPM, BKM, and their ilk. (Yes, they have ilk. Lots of ilk. See almost all previous posts in this space, or e-mail me, and we'll talk.)

So what's the downside? Well, Microsoft's ultimate BPM/BKM strategy is still more confusing than clear, at least to me and others with whom I've discussed such things. Microsoft Office applications make logical front ends to BPM and BKM initiatives, but how best to integrate them with which BPM/BKM applications? Microsoft has formed a Business Process Alliance, and announced plans to support the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), but will that support actually mean fully seamless interoperability with other vendors' solutions? Microsoft Dynamics applications may also make good front ends to BPM/BKM applications as well, but similar questions apply.

And now there's Microsoft going after specific verticals with acquired applications. How will that play out? Which markets will it pursue with such solutions, and which will it target in other ways? Will there be versions of Office tailored for specific verticals, perhaps via templates and/or customized menus?

Lots of questions, few answers. And Microsoft hasn't yet articulated a strategy that is either sufficiently comprehensive or obviously interoperable with other solutions or open standards to reassure me. What about you? Do let me know. Meanwhile, I'll see if I can't pry some more useful information out of "the Colossus of Redmond," perhaps with help from your comments and questions.

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Business process management and optimization -- philosophies, policies, practices, and punditry.

Anne Stuart

I am the editor of ebizQ.

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