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What Do You Think Will be the Biggest Trend or Development for BPM in 2010?

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As we're in December, and the end of the year is in sight, I thought it would be a good time to ask: What do you think will be the biggest trend or development for BPM in 2010?

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  • With the BPMN 2.0 specification having reached beta status just this past August and products based on it starting to come out, I think the dominant discussion topic in BPM will be this standard. Who implements it? What subset is the most important (since no one will implement the whole thing). Which execution model is better, between the two that are standardized? Proprietary process languages will fall out of favor, similar to the way that proprietary application servers fell out of favor soon after J2EE came out.

  • I see a few trends:
    1. BPM+BI/Analytics - BPM vendors wants to empower users to better leverage the data created from process variables, form fields, among other areas for reporting and analytical purposes. For example, HandySoft, a BPM vendor and Jaspersoft, an open-source BI vendor, have started working together to extend HandySoft BizFlow BPM Suite into areas of dynamic reporting, dashboarding and analytics. The marriage makes sense becuase BPM naturally feeds BI, and BI naturally enhances BPM's ability to optimize operations through automation and collaboration.

    2. Templates/Out-of-the-box Apps - The more vendors work with customers the more opportunities they have to repurpose their service engagements into templates and out-of-the-box applications. The problem with templates that I've seen is that every company does work a little differently. And because BPM design and development environments should be user friendly, starting from scratch may be just as easy as starting with a template based on the unique activities and business rules that exist within an organization. The out-of-the-box applications normally become part of the original product as vendors release new versions year over year.

    3. Thin/Thick Forms - BPM vendors want to help their cusotmers build all types of forms. Rather than developing forms outside of the BPM product, vendors will offer functionality enabling customers to create basic forms as well as Web 2.0 thin forms and Rich Internet Applications. Integration with other systems should also become easier, and as a result ROI comes faster.

  • I believe the trends for BPM will be highly influenced by the market economics. If business is convinced that the global recession has subsided and we are on a path for growth, then I believe BPM will see a significant uptick as means to streamline the losses in personnel and jump on the growth bandwagon. However, should business not be convinced that the global recession has receded, then I believe BPM will take a backseat to investments in business intelligence and analytics.

    Although, Garth makes a fair point that the two work solidly together, the realities of market dynamics will impose limitations in 2010 on the ability for companies to explore how these efforts can work together.

  • I really hope Michael Rowley is wrong.
    We have so much else to do in the world of BPM than worry about BPMN 2.0 - in the real world most organisations are still trying to figure out where the boundaries of BPM are and what tools they can use to best effect change.
    I agree that BPMN 2.0 will be interesting for vendors; but I'd be very surprised if it's interesting for anything but the most advanced of regular organizations.
    Garth makes a couple of smart points about BPM+BI, though I'd add that we see BPM+collaboration as being at least as likely to be a killer combination of interest in 2010.
    I normally agree wholeheartedly with JP, but on this occasion I'm not sure. I think we'd all agree that 2009 has been a crappy year, but most BPM tech vendors have seen revenue grow 20-30%. BPM is one of those strange beasts - it's attractive in bad times (reducing waste = cost reduction) and attractive in good times (flexibility = improved time-to-market, more latitude in service delivery, better customer experience, etc).

  • It will be the management of unstructured, ad-hoc human processes. Now that BPM is being more widely adopted, there is a growing realization that handling structured processes is just the tip of the process iceberg.

    These types of processes are already starting to get lot of attention, the problem is that everyone seems to have their own terminology(e.g. unstructured processes, ad-hoc processes, human process management, case management). In 2010 I see this area jelling into a distinct segment - with vendors vying to position themselves in this segment, and analysts rushing to define the segement.

  • To Neil's point: I think that real organizations will gain the necessary understanding of BPM when their employees can take courses that teach BPM technology in a way that is not specific to any particular vendors product. This means standards. It is like the early days of database systems -- standards had to take hold before a critical mass of trained people could appear and change the way the way regular companies used and thought about their data. The same will be true of BPM. It will really have an impact when business schools start to teach it -- and naturally these schools wouldn't feel comfortable teaching an individual company's technology.

  • The coming year one of the things I expect to see is most mainstream BPMS vendors announcing major version releases, dominated by a host of Social Media and collaborative features and functionality - along the lines of recently launched Chatter by Salesforce - but much more directly influencing an improvement in execution of processes.

    This is going to be a very significant development because we are talking about improved collaboration and communication and so it will force a re-think on the way many features are being handled in current versions (some simple eg: approvals, escalations & notifications, doc mgt, etc).

    The other big development is likely to be collaboration and communication again, but between various applications. Mashups and smarter ways & means to share and sync small packets of data with different other apps will bring a new angle to 'bridging the gap'. And of course, those areas where apps can really hand-shake for bigger bang - the kind that Garth talks about.

    These then, will have the potential to directly impact other things like the way unstructured processes are being handled - what Jacob talks about above.

    So the next year is going to be about collaboration and communication. Not just between people, but between apps as well.

  • Great discussion. Both Mike and Neil make good points around BPMN and the role of standards in relation to BPM.

    But I think you are going to see that BPMN is just a small factor – the really import ant evolution in BPM is the wider use of models beyond simply processes. We are seeing BPM projects that are borrowing more and more from enterprise architecture and process analysis – and using models to capture strategy, organizational structure, information flows, and systems/services architecture. Firms that learned to use process models to document how work is accomplished are now looking to take the power of modeling and understand how processes fit into the bigger picture.

    I think that Garth makes a good point about templates and applications. In 2010 we think that many packaged applications will either release or be working on offerings that are built on top of proven BPM platforms. It’s about time!

  • The major trend for BPM in 2010: growth.
    The BPM pie is going to get bigger.
    The demand for BPM skills is increasing.
    But there's enough competition that it isn't clear that software vendors have much pricing power.

  • "packaged applications will either release or be working on offerings that are built on top of proven BPM platforms"

    We are working on one now!

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