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What is your perspective on how BPM suites need to evolve over the next five years?

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From Forrester's Clay Richardson (who's latest Forrester Wave on BPM suites is here): Forrester and Gartner have outlined two very different views of how the BPM suites market will evolve. Gartner's view focuses around intelligent process, while Forrester's focuses on BPM evolving to support customer experience and business architecture. What is your perspective on how BPM suites need to evolve over the next five years?

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  • A nice example of a big analyst firm crowdsourcing future predictions......

    "BPM suites" will disappear in the next 5 years.

    They've gone from standalone process modelers, to execution engines, to platform builders, to cloud based BPM, to enterprise platforms, to business (process) applications.

    The next logical step is for the concept of a "suite" to disappear completely.

    Where the analysts have led vendors down the product path of bringing as much as possible under the title of "BPMS" (ie analytics, process, cloud, data, social, mobile) in reality an organization is no longer interested in putting their eggs all into one basket anymore. They want agile, faster, leaner tools not bloatware and the complexity of a learning curve to manage it all.

    Sadly if Forrester believes that BPM is only now evolving to embrace the customer experience I think that says a lot about the analysis you've been fed over the last decade.....

  • Having actively resisted having a great product dragged into the 'suite' trap (during a previous corporate gig as a product manager), it is nice to see the two analysts touting different visions. From a vendor perspective, this allows the opportunity to pick a better niche for existing products, which in turn provides more choices for customers. If everybody is chasing the same 'top right' position on two equivalent analyst grids there can only be one winner (and for the rest it is a race to the bottom).

    Although I agree with Theo's view that it is sad we are only now really focusing on customer experience, that doesn't make the focus any less worthwhile. We are hopefully through a tough economy where 'efficiency' is the only goal. Time to refocus on customers and employees, like the good corporate citizens we claim to be.

  • In my role I've been directly involved in both analyst reviews and discussions.

    When BPM became a defined market in 2003, workflow/process management and automation focused on two primary areas - human-oriented flows which purpose was to mimic the paper experience, and system-flows to streamline transactions. Design generally followed what was on paper. Creativity was either limited by regulation (in Govt electronic forms had to exactly replicate paper forms) or by functionality.

    Today I see the UX playing as important a role as the workflow. Customers not only want to replace the paper workflow, they also want to create a better experience.
    BPM Suites today must have form/web application design and development tools that create attractive, flexible, and dynamic solutions. They need strong integration and rules management capabilities to allow data/documents to flow freely through human and system activities. They should support both structured and dynamic activities equally as workflows patterns often involved both.

    In 2003 there were 5-10 competitive workflow/BPM vendors. By 2011 there are 20-30 with another 40 imitators. I can understand why Gartner created a new BPM segment that customers should also consider deep analytics, pattern recognition, sensors and actuators, presence awareness, etc. But what percentage of custmers really need these capabilities? 5%? More?

    Since BPM is a very crowded field, one has to ask:
    - What workflow issue am I trying to solve? Do I have more than one workflow than needs fixing (If I buy one tool, can I use it elsewhere in the business)?
    - How much functionality do I need in a tool to solve it/them?
    - How easy is the tool to learn and master?
    - Do I have (or can I quickly hire) resources to learn and use the tool? Or do I outsource?
    - How fast can I move? How quickly will I see ROI?
    - What are my budget constraints and timeline?
    - Do the solutions I build need to be really attractive and highly adaptable?
    - How important is integrating disparate systems?
    - How important is reporting? How important is ad-hoc reporting? How important are dashboards?
    - Can I start small and grow?

    Knowing the answers to these questions will help filter the market and select the best vendor.

  • Poor Clay, I'm not seeing any 5 year predictions here.

  • As ever Forrester and Gartner at least 5 years behind what BPM technology supporting innovators have had for years…….?

    Sorry Gartner we have had the intelligent process for over 5 years. We call it the Living Process which reacts to previous actions and decision of users. I see this becoming even more focused in the future with the intelligent task which will dynamically change as the user makes decisions.

    As for Forrester research focused on how well BPM suites can build out sustainable business change programs, as opposed to just delivering individual process projects from siloed perspectives and thus concluding the next generation of BPM suites focus on helping change programs. Is that the best they can conclude? That’s been around for a decade with the critical difference does not require “suites”. Selling suites as a vendor version of a solution will slide into history. In the future it will be the adaptive software tool with the focus on people collaborating formally and informally to build on the exact supporting requirements. Over time this may result in prebuilt adaptive BPM applications which can very quickly be configured as required saving time but the real benefit maybe a good start point to bring ideas from domain experience into play to determine the best solution for the specific circumstances? This approach recognises every business is different where people work creating information.

    PS If Gartner and Forrester want to know more they are welcome to come and see in the UK and carry out real research maybe even make suggestion on behalf of the long suffering customers…..?

  • To provide context, this question came up after I wrapped up a recent podcast interview for eBizQ that focused on best practices for creating sustainable BPM programs. After we wrapped up the podcast recording, I mentioned to Peter that we see more clients shifting to adopt BPM to drive customer experience initiatives, away from the traditional cost-cutting efficiency saving drivers of the past.

    My prediction to Peter - and we call this out in the BPM Suites market evaluation - was that BPM will continue to move closer to blur the lines between process design and experience design. I also pointed out that intelligence (i.e., embedded guidance and analytics) was only one piece of the puzzle. BPM tools also need to evolve to simplify creating dynamic user experiences connected to well designed processes and screenflows. In a way, this future means taking more an of an outside-in approach to BPM - focusing on the user experience first and then fitting the process model to deliver on that particular experience.

    I recommended that Peter pose this question to his audience since I was presenting a different view of how the market will evolve from what he was seeing from other analyst firms.

    Based on my 12 years of working on all sides of the BPM industry - from software vendor, to system integrator, to analyst - I see this as one of the most fundamental shifts the industry will go through and it will require a major shift in thinking and will change what we consider as a "process".

    To date the definition of BPM suites (i.e., BPM software) has only focused on automation. In other words the equation has primarily been BPM = automation. Moving forward, the equation and definition for BPM will expand to cover automation, experience design, and business change.

  • Without a doubt it is a combination of both visions. Specifically, we are seeing processes getting more and more intelligent and moving faster and faster. However, we are also seeing a lot of consolidation by vendors around the stack (Polymita acquisition, for example). I don't think it is much a prediction to say that BPM Suites will disappear in 5 years. That is pretty obvious - almost all software as we know it today will disappear in 5 years (which is a hell of a long time in software years). The world is become more and more specialized everyday, and as a result the future for BPM providers is 1) consolidation in a stack leader, 2) vertical specialization, or 3) Horizontal Hyper specialization.

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