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Business process management, or the mixture of workflow, integration, and process modeling (and perhaps a few other technologies) holds good promise for helping organizations manage business processes adaptively and respond more quickly to changing marketing conditions. Business process management (BPM) vendors are working hard to shape their solutions as offerings that business users and managers can employ to easily create and manage automated business processes. So if BPM is all about business processes, is it the business people who will make BPM products and the BPM market succeed?

Some companies and BPM vendors think the answer is "yes"- that by enabling business people to dynamically define, monitor, and manage business processes, the value of BPM will be so clear that the BPM market will take off. In such a scenario, the business managers/users are the keys to the evolution of the BPM market.

And of course, they're right. In some respects, BPM without the "B" spells EAI (or perhaps workflow, depending on the product you're using). Ensuring that business users can (by themselves) define and modify business processes (or at least easily collaborate in an environment conducive to them) is no doubt an important BPM capability. Generating business-meaningful reports on process status and/or process instances is also critical. And being able to easily monitor and adjust key process decisions and criteria in real-time in response to business changes is core to the ongoing success of a good BPM product. All in all, focusing on the business user is clearly important.

And that's what the industry has done. For example, early integration vendors have been adding BPM capabilities to their integration tools over the past few years, hoping to extend their technically-oriented infrastructure solutions into products that appeal to the business manager. "Pure-play" BPM vendors have been adding more business activity monitoring and reporting capabilities.

But there's also another side of the story. Increasingly, organizations have moved from the old client/server applications to application server-based applications. In the meantime, application servers have continued to evolve to offer integration components and capabilities or closer ties to integration brokers. Portals have become an important method for enabling information dissemination and sharing of business-critical data. Most organizations have moved to standardize (when possible) their choice of application server, portal server, and integration broker. In many cases, this combination of technologies could become the unifying platform for future application development, business logic, and (perhaps?) business process logic.


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