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Is the process app store the future of BPM?

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As David Moser writes in this blog, Where Are the Process Apps? 2011 is the year of the app store.  So do you think the process app store is the future of BPM?

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  • Max Pucher said in an interview last year “The mobile world will change the way applications are developed, deployed, licensed, and paid for. The concept of the AppStore is the model of the future and you will see it appearing on all operating systems…” and I still believe this is the way forward for BPM too.

    But it must be a community driven model to really work and be a success.

    I wrote about this almost a year ago to the day....

    http://goo.gl/UJbyF

    Nice to see the world still turns extremely slowly in the BPM sphere.....

  • Getting a process project implemented is tough. You need to create the content (map processes, link to documents, develop systems) before the benefits flow.

    Large companies have the resources to create this from scratch plus a centre of excellence to support it.

    For an SME this is too hard. Instead, they continue to run on "staff heroics". But if there were an app store with pre-built content well governed processes could be available, achievable and affordable to every company.

    That would benefit the company, its employees and its customers.

  • I agree with Ian. Getting a process implemented is tough, not just from finding and implementing an app, but managing the change internally to get it to work. And this makes processes hard to deliver as apps.

    My own experience, putting pre-built process apps out on Google Marketplace is that even if SMBs come to take a look, they can rarely spend the time to really dig in and understand what the app can do. A cursory single look, a "this sounds hard" internal discussion is about the best you can expect. No matter how much person-to-person hand holding you offer (and trust me, I've offered), the typical app buyer just doesn't have the time, resources or motivation to get a real process change implemented.

    Now I'm not saying that the apps we deliver are always perfectly simple to use! The ultimate flexibility that appears to be demanded by the buyer whatever size company, balanced against the "so simple a caveman could do it" need, makes these applications more expensive to develop than the $4.95 per user per month cap that seems to be limit anybody will consider (often less).

    Successful app vendors have to play a numbers game to make any real money. And business processes seem to rarely fit the one size fits all requirement to make this happen.

    Apps need to be really well packaged if they are delivering SaaS application functionality. Which means that the value of a flexible process design and deployment environment is lost on the end user, because too many options just get in the way. Somebody will work out the magic to this, though its definitely harder than it appears!

  • There are two aspects to this I think.

    First the mobile device needs to be the BPM interaction platform of choice. So many of us are no longer tethered to our chairs so we need to have fast, always on, intuitive interfaces we can interact with in the palm of our hands. We also need to be able to move content to and from our other mobile devices so this means really smart devices. And this does not mean just delivering to the browser on my smart device: it means fully functional, platform specific solutions that adopt the platform paradigm as well as every other app on the platform.

    Second we have to be really careful about in-the-can apps that provide no flexibility, customization or personalization. Sure, for simple stuff, we can live with the odd idiosyncrasy, but for enterprise class process automation we must have the process we need, it must be easy to modify as we optimize our processes and it must deliver the information to our end-point of choice.

    What this means, I believe, is that we must push on BPM tools to continue to improve the user experience in developing workflows, in interacting with workflows and in ensuring that that interaction can happen on any device I choose to use.

  • Thanks Theo, for referencing me! Would be fair if everyone did ...

    Appstores are about ease of deployment and ease of use. Process Management must offer the same to find adoption and that will be really hard to do with current BPMS. Most apps today have some kind of server backbone they connect to. Which makes the mobile the 'client. Does that ring a bell?

    The main problem is that working with processes MUST NOT be hard and processes MUST NOT be designed. The benefits of processes do not come from squeezing them like a lemmon, but from making them TRANSPARENT. Standardized one-size-fits-all processes work even less then one-size-fits-all apps. But that is where supposedly the big savings of BPM are. What a ridiculous illusion!

    Process maturity is not reached when a process bureucracy dictates the business operation but when the business users are empowered to create and adapt processes transaparently (for management) according to defined goals that are triggered by business events.

  • Thanks for raising this Peter - it's interesting to read the comments of the eBizQ panel.

    Like most of the panel, I have doubts about selling ready-made (or even business template) processes in App Stores. What App Stores could do, though, is sell cloud-based services. (In BPM terms, the sale would be of a single process instance).

    Such services need not be underpinned by BPM technology. However, it does look like an opportunity for cloud-based BPM, and the opportunity will grow dramatically as (if?) cloud-based BPM products become easier to use.

    I'd expect BPM platforms of this type to involve convergence with 'ebusiness in a box' products (web site, shopping cart, payment processing etc), and it could as easily be led by a current ebusiness player, as a BPM vendor.

    BPM for the mass market - should be exciting!

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