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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action

Dennis Byron

BPM VIEWPOINT: Don't Bet Your BPM Plans on Analyst Quadrants

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I’ve written here and here about the general problems with magic quadrants and waves and other x-/y-axis analyst views of enterprise software. There are no hard numbers behind the product placements on the grids and as a former IDC analyst, I’m sure that that’s what bothers me. The dimensions and characteristics are always amorphous things like “ability to execute,? “feature/functionality content,? “side of head on which CEO parts hair,? and so forth. I’m from the Jerry McGuire school: “Show me the money.?

Now along comes a hard business process management (BPM) example that half proves my point. My concern has always been that almost every product makes the upper right corner of the quadrant. Active Endpoint’s Alex Neihaus’ has the opposite complaint in his recent blog posting about the Forrester Wave on Integration-centric BPM Suites. Only 10 BPM suppliers out of the hundred or so in the market were considered. The wide range of choices you enjoy/face in BPM software was illustrated on November 10 release of the Alfresco Open Source Barometer.

Alex goes on to say that probably not coincidentally only the BPM market leaders were considered. If Forrester had said that BPM market leadership was the criteria to be included in its survey that would have been fair. (But in that case Forrester should have interviewed Fujitsu and Autonomy rather than Cordys and Vitria.)

The bigger issue in my opinion is why do analysts draw artificial distinctions among BPM (and other types of) products. Forrester says there are also human-centric BPM and document-centric BPM products in addition to Integration-centric BPM suites. That’s not an exhaustive BPM taxonomy. Where would Active Endpoints’ BPM product fit if those were the only three choices you had? My 30-plus years of information technology market research say you don’t make such distinctions. According to you—in the plural, statistically speaking—functionality rules. My last half dozen years of BPM product research says that integration/document/human-centric/etc. functionality is all merging in 21st century BPM.

-- Dennis Byron

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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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