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New Frontiers in Business Intelligence

Nari Kannan

The Vision for Process Overlay Software Products

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My last blog entry argued that a lot of companies are already dealing with Business Processes rather Functional Modules like Financial management Software or Manufacturing Software or Sales Accounting Software -  The Coming Boom in Process Oriented Enterprise Software.

In this blog, let me speculate about what these new products might be, what shape they might be in, and how they could be a win-win for customers, software makers and others.

The current approach is to make all these modules Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) friendly and link all of them up so that data flows freely between these modules in support of these business processes. These are all done again and again as individual software development efforts!

This is how all the functional module software products evolved anyway. Initially every company developed software to handle each of the functions with custom developed software. Then they could go out and buy these functional modules off-the shelf from Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP and others, and do the necessary customizations!

However, think about this. This is tremendous duplication of effort in each and every organization that is using these functional modules and integrating them with SOA. A better approach might be to think in terms of Process Overlay Software Products.

In an article I wrote some years ago for DM review - 10 Ways Process Excellence Impacts Corporate Performance Management, I proposed a number of main processes that any company making widgets of any kind uses (Of course, services companies, non-profits, may all have their own different sets of processes):

  1. Innovation Processes
  2. Product Development and Manufacturing Processes
  3. Marketing Processes
  4. Sales Processes
  5. Product Delivery and Installation Processes
  6. Financial Processes
  7. After-Sales Service and Support Processes
  8. Compliance Processes
  9. Human Resource Processes
  10. Outsourcing Management Processes

These processes could span multiple Functional Modules and could form a set of Process Overlay Software Products. These have knowledge of the above processes and have pre-built SOA adapters for each of the functional modules. For example, if SAP or Oracle are producing these, they would have pre-built adapters for their own functional modules at first and later on, adapters for others' also. For example, many customers of Oracle may be using SAP Manufacturing while buying Oracle CRM from Oracle. This way they can make money by selling additional modules to their customers who are struggling to link all of these systems they bought from Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft (now Oracle) and even others possibly!

Customers who have spent millions of dollars buying functional modules and making them work inside their companies are not going to throw all of these investments out to but new fangled process-aware software. However, they are all struggling with getting a Business Process View of information flow within their companies. They are doing this with SOA integration.

A set of Process Overlay Software Products will be win-win for all concerned. Customers can get better value from their own functional software modules by adding a process layer on top of it by making it easy to integrate software modules , whether they are bought from them or from their competitors.

Software companies can make additional monies by standardizing process view of things and making them happen with their software functional modules and even those of their competitors!

Process Overlay Software products can standardize and make it more efficient, effective and breathe new life into a mature Enterprise Software market. Their customers are struggling with getting a process view of their operations instead of functional views and everybody wins by making this vision happen!

Start out with an ideal and end up with a deal. -- Karl Albrecht


Nari Kannan's blog explores how new approaches to business intelligence can help organizations improve the performance of business processes--whether these processes are creative or operational, internally-focused or customer-facing, intra-departmental or across functions.

Nari Kannan

Nari Kannan started and serves as the CEO of appsparq, a Mobile Applications development company based in Louisville, KY with offices in Singapore and India. Nari has over two decades of experience in computer systems development, translating product and service strategy into meaningful technology solutions, and both people and product development. Prior to this, he has served as both Chief Technology Officer and Vice President- Engineering in six successful startups, two of which he co-founded. He has proven experience in building companies, engineering teams, and software solutions from scratch in the United States and India. Prior to this, Nari started Ajira Technologies, Inc., in Pleasanton, CA, where he served as Chief Executive Officer for more than six years. While at Ajira, Nari was instrumental in developing service process management solutions that modeled, monitored, and analyzed business processes, initially targeting the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Telecom, and Banking verticals in India, and Finance, Insurance, and Healthcare verticals in the United States. Prior to this, he served as VP-Engineering at Ensenda, an ASP for local delivery services. He also served variously as Chief Technology Officer or VP-Engineering at other Bay-Area venture funded startups such as Kadiri and Ensera. He began his career at Digital Equipment Corporation as a Senior Software Engineer. Nari has a long involvement with Customer Support and other customer facing processes. At Digital Equipment Corporation he was involved with their 1800 person customer support center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was tasked with coming up with innovative tools to help customer support people do their jobs better. He holds a U.S patent for a software invention that automatically redirected email requests for customer support to the right group by digesting the contents of the request and guessing at which software or hardware support group is best equipped to handle it. At Ensera, he led a 45 person team in developing an internet based ASP service for handling auto insurance claims, coordinating information flow between end-customers, Insurance companies, Repair shops and Parts suppliers. Ensera was acquired by Mitchell Corporation in San Diego. Nari holds a B.S. degree in Physics from Loyola College, and an M.B.A degree from the University of Madras in Madras, India. He graduated with a M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1985. Contact Information: Nari Kannan. Email: nari@appsparq.com Mobile: 925 353 0197. Website: www.appsparq.com View more .


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