BPM Futures


IBM Cloud steals Lombardi thunder

Another IBM Agility seminar at the Shangri-La Hotel, and some BPM announcements. And in contrast with the sunny spring skies warming Sydney’s harbour (for those of you in the northern hemisphere :cool: ) the best bit in here was the cloud.

But first …. Websphere Lombardi Edition is to have drag and drop integration with both FileNet P8 Content Server and Content Manager 8. The extent of the functionality involved wasn’t clear to me – presumably IBM will start with search/retrieval and later move on to others like metadata update and new document insertion? Anyway, further integration will be with Websphere Service Registry and Repository – useful for orchestration purposes – and with iLog, where it will be possible to browse and select an existing Ruleset on a predefined iLog JRules Execution Server.

In the meantime Websphere iLog itself is to be coupled with Websphere Business Events to become Webspher Decision Server, extending IBM’s business events capability, whilst the iLog BRMS SupportPac is to provide Websphere Business Monitoring and predictive analytics integration

All very worthy, but much less interesting than the next piece of news, which was the launch of Blueworks Live. This combines three elements – the Blueworks BPM collaboration community (blogs, wikis); the highly successful (Lombardi) Blueprint process discovery and definition environment; and a new workflow execution engine. All running in the Cloud and, apparently, available through your browser for a test drive from November 20th. (Yes, that’s this Saturday – perhaps one of the software world’s most specific launch dates ever…!).

Now, Cloud-based BPM is hardly new. Cordys was one of the first to offer it globally, and there are niche players too, such as Australian company OpenSoft, which uses open source products to provide integrated Cloud-based BPM to the burgeoning Australian energy and resources sectors. However, Cloud-based BPM from IBM is something else entirely. IBM’s existing mindshare in the global BPM market and its credibility as a corporate Cloud (and FM) provider mean that the interest in this product will be enormous, and as a result it could well be a game-changer for all BPM stakeholders.

The PowerPoint-based demo that followed included a marketing manager setting up a new process for her latest marketing initiative. Yes, that’s one process for one case/process instance. And if the Powerpoint is to be believed, it only took her a few minutes.

How can this fail? The CIO’s happy because it’s SaaS; the Board because it’s IBM; the Ops Manager is comfortable because its running in an IBM Datacentre; the process improvement people have Blueprint to play with; the IT teams can focus on integrated, production BPM system work; and best of all the Business can replace its endless email trails with easy to access, auditable business processes.

So what next? Well, here’s a prediction –  Blueworks Live will do for business processes what Microsoft Sharepoint did for enterprise content – it will get everywhere. That means a step change in awareness regarding BPM (how many business – or even IT – people knew of ECM before Sharepoint?) and huge opportunities for BPM professionals to sort out all of those ‘home grown’ processes. Bring it on!


A Big Blue bird

I’ve been tweeted by IBM – via the BPM Network, admittedly – announcing the latest news on IBM’s community for BPM process fiends, BPM BlueWorks (beta). I’m glad I caught it because BPM BlueWorks looks like it could add real value – and it’s only 3 weeks old (always nice to catch innovation early).

The idea seems to be that companies are encouraged to join the community, each operating within its own private area, with employees defining and sharing process strategies, capabilities and definitions with fellow employees. At the same time employees can break out into communal areas, to blog and discuss issues that they – most likely – have in common with other similar groups. A great deal of relevant content (including white papers, process maps, case studies) has already been made available by IBM itself, and a partnership with APQC has added more.

It’ll be interesting to see how this develops. Perhaps it will particularly appeal to BPM champions within smaller organizations that lack an existing, coherent process repository. The tools, combined with the community, should be attractive. I can also imagine it being useful to BPM specialists within larger organizations, such as those already participating in a BPM Centre of Excellence, though more as one information source amongst many.

I’d write more, but although I could register for the site, logging on – to access full functionality – proved impossible due to ‘temporary capacity problems’. Looks like the marketing tweeters are slightly ahead of the rest of the big blue bird. Never mind, I’ll try again later….