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What do you think of IBM moving away from BPM and towards the term 'smarter process'?

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As Scott Francis blogged, "It would have been easy to walk away from the conference thinking IBM didn't care about BPM - because they were using the words 'Smarter Process' all the time." What do you think?

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  • Typical marketing technique. OpenText is doing the same technique repositioning ECM to EIM. Gartner is pushing the 'Smart' trend too. Maybe the positioning helps clarify BPM which has historically been nebulous for many.

  • It's just analyst buzzword bandwagoning.
    They haven't left BPM, they're just adopting the latest terminology that Gartner and Forrester (Smart Business Apps) have coined and positioning their BPM offering in that space.

    As pointed out, OpenText has been heavily pushing this message ever since they made the Quadrant but never heard a peep from them before then.

    If anything though, process platforms are moving away from being bloatware, the enterprise world is moving too fast and tools need to become leaner and faster to keep up. All for this change and it'll separate the mammals from the dinosaurs.

    • What Theo said, buzzword bingo and branding both. Same thing happened within Big Blue on the ECM side with "Information Lifecycle Governance" subsuming that decade old TLA as well. Hell, AIIM themselves said "ECM is dead" at their conference this spring.

      Always looking for new words instead of placing emphasis on solving problems.

  • Come on, it's all about managing your organization by process. And vendors try to sell us software that makes that easier or better.

    So it all starts with the ambitions of organizations on BPM.

    What is the level of grip their processes need?
    What kind of characteristics do those processes have (worklfow vs human driven)
    What is the frequency of process change?

    Actually that's more consultancy than tooling. You know what; I'll sell my services as 'Extremely I-Smart process performance coaching'

    Damn, I couls easily ask € 200 per hour.


    • please don't try to give consultants a bad name :) Whether we admit it or not, almost all businesses are services businesses these days :)

      SaaS? PaaS? these are services. Software support? services... Retail? service. Manufacturing? arguably a service. So let's just admit we're all in the services business.. and the tech business... its an interesting world and whether you charge by the hour, or the product, or the support ticket, or the month, doesn't matter too much. The main service we provide is the utility of our brains :)

  • "Smart" is a major part of the IBM lexicon. "Smarter Cities, Smarter Government, Smarter Planet, Smarter Commerce," and of course - "Smart Business." So, it seems like a nice and natural marketing move for them. Nothing too new here.

  • First it is good to see IBM leading the move to place BPM at the enterprise level. However the use of the word “Smart” is corruption of the term as it implies “smart applications” when in reality they see it as “…simply one where the tooling and implementation more closely maps to the manner in which people actually perform their work” a personal quote from John Reynolds who is product manager IBM BPM made in this extensive blog about this very subject http://www.linkedin.com/groups/We-re-talking-Smart-Process-2452802.S.236133238 Such basic capability has been around for over a decade?

    IBM has taken 40 components and their R&D consists “consolidating” into 4 to deliver as Mr Reynolds describes. The IBM investment in acquiring and then remoulding as required must run into $bns. Is it surprising that the “bosses” and marketing departments like “smart” even if it is quite misleading? Forrester’s and Gartner’s limited research capability need to take more responsibility in understanding what vendors are actually selling?

    A business person would immediately assume a “smart application” is where user decisions can dynamically set up the next appropriate steps to achieve the optimised outcomes. This is a capability that already exists so yet again IBM leads the FUD……no wonder business has a cynical view about “IT”?

  • Big vendors like to create confusion in the marketplace. If you're IBM, do you want to complete with little old BP Logix in the BPM market space? Does that make you look good? No way: that's like like Quinton "Rampage" Jackson challenging me to a cage match. He doesn't look good no matter how it turns out. Instead, IBM would rather own the "Smarter XXX" market space, which nobody else is in.

    That said, we were pleased to see IBM following our lead by introducing Timeline-style process modeling and raising the possibility of predictive analysis based on that model. Good to have our position validated not only by the analysts but by a market juggernaut like IBM.

    • I'd like to know what's the success ratio of BPM implementations worldwide at the moment. Because if everyone's stuck in level 1 and 2, having another product/Solution/branding into the fire will not solve anything.

      • this is a kind of interesting question :) what's the success rate of startups? and yet people keep doing them... and we wouldn't call "startups" as an industry a failure :)

        What is the success rate of IT projects of all stripes?
        What is the success rate of BPM projects that are run exactly like traditional IT projects?
        What is the success rate of BPM projects run in a way that is compatible with BPM? (agile, iterative, business-value-driven)

        Statistics can hide the truth. At BP3 we're doing it right, and yet, we have to convince the customer to come along for the ride- to give our approach a chance. We can't force them to, we have to ask, convince, persuade. The failure rates of those that take our approach is nearly zero.

  • IBM is keen to differentiate itself in the crowded BPM market place, and this "buzzword bingo" is an old marketing ploy with very little substance.

  • 'Smart' clearly has no functional meaning and nis no more than a marketing term. IBM also has no technology to make the planet or its people smarter. After a few billion spent on advertizing people beieve anything. That's business no matter how much it annoys me.

    The same was already true for BPM and now that there is little benefit to be found beyond a few hardcoded, automated, cost-optimized processes that do create a host of other problems, the attention has to be turned someplace else. When I said years ago, lets do Adaptive Process and provide a definition of what that is and does I am told that BPM already solves all problems. When IBM and Yforester Research say lets do Smart Process Apps and don't explain anything then everyone is awed. Wow, what innovation and futuristic thinking ....


    It is in the end the executives who chose analysts, solutions and vendors. Like we have the governments we deserve, they have the IT solutions they deserve. What they don't realize is the potential they are foregoing and that some competitor will pick up on it and do it. Technology is the currency of change and if you use it to cut cost thats what you get. If you use it to empower people thats what you get ... No more, no less.

    Chosing good solutions without falling into the trap of vendor marketing requires competence. That has been outsourced too and therefore there is no one left to make good IT decisions.

    It really should not be so hard to understand ....

  • This blog worth reading on the subject of "smart" http://jimsinur.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/how-smart-is-your-business-only-as_9.html Ex Gartner....how come Gartner can't articulate such a simple explanation.....and by the way Jim is right.....we know we have such capability; it is the start of a new journey BUT you will need an elegant business driven architecture. IBM has a long way to go.....?

  • Should be obvious to everyone (one commenter hit on this) that Smarter Planet was IBM's tagline for a few years now, so Smarter Process fits right in. It isn't something they needed to borrow from the analyst firms, though I'm sure they noted the parallels and liked it.

    My blog was referenced - my complaint was simply that, BPM is what we and customers call this stuff. Smarter Process is more like a tagline on IBM's BPM product offering - which is great and fine and catchy in that it ties in with their other marketing messages.

    But the product space isn't called "smarter process" so it pollutes the marketing messaging (imho) when you try to category shift. It isn't called "adaptive process" either - the market is called BPM for now. smarter, adaptive - i don't care about the nuances of marketing too much :)

    I just know that it is good enough to keep making BPM offerings better, rather than reinventing the vocabulary to score points. And, I have to give IBM some credit for improving their offering every year.

    Also, with regard to the 40->4 comment. I understand why some think this isn't value-added - it doesn't sound like it to a small startup. But it is. IBM had built and acquired a set of products that had overlap in minor and major functions. Rationalizing that set of products such that they work well together and make sense as 4 offerings instead of 40 takes some vision and design work, not just development work (it doesn't mean throwing out 36 products, either). The benefit to IBM's customers is a clearer sense of which products are being used, migration paths, and implementation approach. For a company like IBM to simplify the buying and building experience is kind of amazing, as it was always the knock against them from startup land. (some of that Lombardi DNA rubbing off)


  • LoL...IBM like so many other IT companies is struggling for oxygen. With technology development, both s/w and h/w, outsourced to other countries IBM is being left with a sales force that has to come up with new words ever so often to keep the 3 letter acronym breathing.

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