BPM in the Real World
The 2008 Business Process Management Software Landscape
By Dennis Byron, Analyst, ebizQ
ebizQ watches close to 100 software products that support the business process
management (BPM) value proposition. This software is provided by more than 50
suppliers. The use of the term value proposition is important conceptually
because there is really no such thing as BPM software or BPM technology, but
rather products and technologies that enable BPM.
The idea is not to confuse the value proposition with the enabling products
or technology. They can range from products with the term BPM in their names
such as Oracles BPM Suite to SAPs NetWeaver-based Business Process
Platform to collaborative software such as IBM Notes or Microsoft Outlook (both
companies also offer products with BPM in their names) to workflow-based document-centric
products such as Adobe LiveCycle and EMCs Documentum-heritage products.
Most companies, such as the six mentioned above, offer BPM-enabling software
and a range of other types of software. Some offer only BPM-enabling software.
In ebizQ topic
terms, the business process management value proposition encompasses BPM
suites and platforms, enterprise content management (ECM), business activity
monitoring, business performance and optimization, human-centric BPM, business
process (e.g., CRM, ERP) integration, process monitoring, process modeling,
and other such terms commonly used in the IT industry. For division of labor
reasons, BPM in ebizQs view does not include IT Lifecycle Management (ITLM),
which we admit could be considered BPM for the IT department, or Enterprise
Architecture Management (EAM), which although it uses many of the same enabling
technologies as BPM-related software, does not offer the enterprise the same
The BPM value proposition is most akin to the ERP value proposition of the
1990s (easy integration, unified information about business activity and access
to reports about that information by knowledge workers without IT intervention,
and so forth). But BPM does not require IT users and line managers to selectand
therefore depend ononly one vendor.
Which software product or products you use to solve your BPM challenges will
depend on the extent it is, for example, workflow-centric or requires more straight-through
processing (STP). Other characteristics include whether or not the products
are better suited to internal workflows (Intranet) or business-to-business (B2B)
or similar Extranet process flows that span legal entities. Whether the flow
is more event- or data-driven is a third important characteristic. In an ideal
world, one software suite would support all these functions but such software
is not yet available.
What Software Suppliers Are Doing
As is so often the case whenever an analyst takes a year-end/new-year retrospective/look-ahead
of any information-technology (IT) grouping, at the end of 2008 the list of
BPM suppliers and products is not the same as it was at the end of the previous
year. In 2008, BEA was folded into Oracle (but of course Fuego had been folded
into BEA in 2006). Skywire was also folded into Oracle in 2008 (but Skywire
had acquired Whitehill in 2007, which had acquired Metaserver in 2005). Axway,
a part of the Sopra Group, acquired Tumbleweed. Seagull was acquired by Rocket
in 2007 (but Seagull had acquired Oak Grove in 2005). Users need to be concerned
about such consolidation in order to determine whether their favored products
are going to survive a merge and continue to receive functional enhancement.
Consolidation such as outlined above is often a sign of a markets maturity,
meaning users will receive less choice, the pace of functional enhancement will
slow, and/or the approach being offered by the supplier communityin this
case, BPM as a value propositionis not receiving market acceptance. Although
few outright new "BPM companies" formed in 2008 to balance these consolidations,
that is more because of the worldwide financial climate (that is, 2008 was not
been a great year for raising financing) and not because of any slowing down
of the BPM value proposition momentum. In fact, companies from outside the U.S.
such as Axway, Cordys, Handysoft, Newgen, Procession and Singularity are making
themselves heard more vocally on the world stage.
Other companies as diverse as Open Text and Lawson gave notice that their software
can be applied to the BPM value proposition. And, despite the fact that they
may eventually have to compete with Microsoft, Microsoft-centric suppliers such
as Blue Prism, Flosuite, K2, Skelta and Ulitmus continued to increase their
BPM development and marketing efforts. Of course the classic integration-engine
suppliers such as Fujitsu, Software Ag (WebMethods), Sterling Commerce, Sun
(SeeBeyond), TIBCO, and Vitria continued to enhance their products to apply
to the BPM value proposition.
Not to be overwhelmed by the BPM marketing blitz, especially by the major suppliers,
the companies most associated with offering only BPM-enabling softwarefor
example, Appian, Global 360, Lombardi, Macronetics, Metastorm, Pegasystems,
and Savvionall rolled out new versions or new products during 2008. Active
Endpoints, Collossa, Intalio, Red Hat (JBoss) and Sarasvati emerged more strongly
as alternatives for those that prefer open source terms and conditions or simply
the community aspects of open-source development. Industry-specific BPM gained
ground especially in government and financial services, with suppliers such
as ACI (Transaction Systems Architects), Clear Technology, DST, and Kaulkin.
What Users Think
But the dynamics of the marketplacewhat you in IT and line management
want from your suppliersdoes not change with any flip of the calendar.
One thing IT Investment Research
analysis found in the list of suppliers on its horizon is that it is becoming
more multinational and that it is including broader functionality. Although
BPM-enabling software that handles all the characteristics you want is not yet
available, progress was made
Research found, as documented here,
- More extranet than intranet support but that mergers and acquisitions were
often driving you to use BPM software within a legal entity as if it were
supporting multiple-enterprise relationships
- More straight-through processing (STP) than workflow-centric but ideally
it cannot be an either/or situation
- More seamless connectivity between modeling and execution but for the foreseeable
future, you will have to have both developers and line-department personnel
work in tandem to get BPM project off the ground
- SaaS-based BPM functionality, which you think will be a particularly fast
way to move to extranet-oriented BPM
- Fewer arguments over standards.
- Better interconnection points with other software.
The good news is that during this decade BPM-related products have evolved
to cross firewalls, handle both event- and data-driven state changes, and incorporate
state of the art rules engines and modeling techniques. Your end-of-2008 wish
list will hopefully follow shortly.
A subsequent article in this series will lookahead to BPM in 2009.
About the Author
Dennis Byron brings three decades of analyst experience to his role as
ebizQ's Community Manager for Improving Business Processes. This
community covers Business Process Management (BPM), Process Modeling,
Process Analysis, and Business Alert Monitoring (BAM), among other
More by Dennis Byron
As Community Manager, Byron will blog and podcast to keep the ebizQ
community fully informed on the latest news and breakthroughs relevant
to enterprise BPM. Byron will be responsible for bringing you breaking
news on BPM daily, writing feature articles and sourcing content from
other analysts, industry associations and vendors for publication on
ebizQ. Finally, each week, Byron will compile the most important news
and views in an e-mail newsletter for ebizQ's ever-growing BPM
Byron is ideally suited to the job, as he has researched and analyzed
all areas of IT and information-systems use for the past 30 years.
Byron looks at BPM market dynamics backed up by facts, while taking
into account the perspective of the IT and business person. He is a
frequent speaker and moderator on business processes, which will also
be one of his roles as Community Manager.
Byron was the ERP and Middleware Analyst with the Datapro division of
McGraw-Hill and IDC from 1991 to 2006. In these roles, he was the
primary analyst for Business Process Management. He has conducted
over 500 specific information-systems case studies. He has contributed
to Application Development Trends, IT Business Edge, Research 2.0 and
Byron is also the principal of IT Investment Research, which is aimed
at institutional and individual investors in IT, or anyone who enjoys
peering under the covers of "the financials," where large companies
and emerging IPOs like to bury their most interesting facts. His main
area of interest is investment opportunities in enterprise software.
ebizQ is the insiderís guide to next-generation business process management. We offer a growing collection of independent editorial articles on BPM trends, issues, challenges and solutions, all targeted to business and IT BPM professionals.
We cover BPM standards, governance, technology and continuous process improvement, as well as process discovery, modeling, simulation and optimization, among many other areas. We follow case management, decision management, business rules management, operational intelligence, complex event processing and other related topics. We closely track important trends such as the rise of social BPM, mobile BPM and BPM in the cloud. We also explore BPMís use in functional areas, such as supply chain and customer management, and in key verticals, such as financial services, health care, insurance and government.
ebizQ's other BPM-oriented content includes podcasts, webcasts, webinars, white papers, a variety of expert blogs, a lively online forum and much more.