Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.

BPM is taking IT by storm, but are the vendors ready for prime time?

I spent last week at the Gartner BPM Summit in San Diego. If you have never been to a Gartner Summit I highly recommend it. For three days I listened to Gartner analysts, industry experts, and a few customers talk about the benefits of BPM and how corporations need to become process centric to survive in the upcoming years. BPMS vendors are popping up like weeds as everyone is trying to get a piece of the new multi billion dollar pie that is fresh out of the oven. Every day at lunch time I wandered down stairs to the vendor pavilion to catch a glimpse of the new silver bullet. On my first visit to the pavilion I expected to see a dozen vendors come rushing towards me. What I saw was over 40 booths comprised of companies ranging from billion dollar giants like Microsoft, IBM, BEA to little known pure players like Sunguard and Singularity. What I learned was even more surprising. Pure players like Pega Systems, Lombardi, and Savvian have far superior product offerings then IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle. All three of the billion dollar giants I mentioned have recently purchased pure play vendors and are still a year or two away from making a huge impact in this space. BEA, however acquired Fuego last year and is already one of the favorites at the show.

Another thing I learned is that even the stellar pure players are early in the maturity cycle. Many of them, like Appian, grew up delivering solutions targeted at a certain industry. For Appian, government was its major focus. Other pure players lived solely in areas like supply chain or finance. What you will see over the next two years is two things. First, pure players will work hard to round out their industry experience and provide complete solutions. Second, many of these pure players will get gobbled up by the big boys. I expect next year's summit to only have 30 booths and the year after that might only have a dozen.

What does this mean to the buyer? If you can afford to wait, which many of us can't, wait to see which vendors are left standing a year from now and evaluate how well the large companies have integrated the pure players into their product offering. If you can't wait like me, then I recommend looking at BEA and some of the more dominate pure players like Pega and Lombardi. Regardless of which path you take, make sure your vendor of choice uses open standards like BPEL and XPDL in case you to need to migrate to another tool down the road.


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"If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there"

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