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Is BPM-as-a-Service Giving a new Chance to BPM?

by Jean-Jacques Dubray on Oct 16, 2008 |

Rashid Khan, former CEO of Ultimus, noted this week that the BPM market did not live up to its expectations, as some BPM startups claimed in 2000 they would be one day as big as Oracle dominating the BPMS market:

Even if I take a conservative forecast and assume that the market was $1 billion in 1998 and growing at 15% per annum, it should be at least $4 billion today. But the most recent forecast continue to put it in the $2 billion range.

$2 Billion for a 10 year old IT technology is by all measures puny when you consider how many business process improvement initiatives are under way in G2000 companies.

2008 has seen the emergence of a new kind of BPM engines delivering BPM-as-a-Service. Sandy Kemsley summarized a Gartner session on the topic last February where Ben Pring expressed that :

It is useful to consider, however, some of the reasons why companies are moving to SaaS, since these are true for BPM as it becomes available in a SaaS environment:

  • Too much software and hardware that is purchased but never used.
  • The high cost of software implementation, particularly the cost of services required.
  • The hidden costs of IT that drive up the effective cost of on-premise systems.
  • The emergence of new technologies that enable SaaS, such as grid computing.

SaaS is almost always used to reduce costs, both the up-front costs of the systems themselves and the infrastructure required to support them.

 Last, Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer at TechTarget, reported that:

veteran BPM player Pegasystems Inc. is proposing a twist on the SaaS model it believes corporate customers will find more palatable...BPM Platform as a Service (PaaS) that essentially turns corporate IT departments into their own BPM Software as a Service providers. The on-premise hosted model offers two boons in one, boasts Pegasystems, providing the efficiency of a SaaS offering without the anxieties of sending proprietary business information off into the "cloud."

This announcement is the fourth of its kind this year after Fujitsu, Appian and RunMyProcess.com.

In a recent blog post commenting on an article from two IBM architects on BPM 2.0, RunMyProcess CEO, Matthieu Hug, noted that:

The feature of BPM 2.0 [include]

  • Rich user experience
  • Process tagging
  • Lightweight integration model
  • BPMN and BPEL
  • Zero code
  • Dynamic process optimization
  • Business performance optimization
  • Industry flavour in BPM

we do think the authors have forgotten a couple of items on their BPM 2.0 list:

  • The Form Factor of process engines.
  • Ubiquity

[BPM-as-a-Service] changes dramatically the form factor of traditional Business Process Engines. You no longer need a large budget to get started, you no longer need to take risk in deploying a large and unfamiliar piece of infrastructure in your organization in several environments (development, test, production…). We have done all of that for you already.

That's certainly in line with Rashid's conclusion on what's needed to move forward:

To realize its true potential, BPM has to become as easy as the browser or the word processor to deploy and to use. That is because it has to be used by a very large number of users. So the challenge is for the vendors to constantly focus on making it easier intrinsically, not by dumbing it down.

Would you considering BPM-as-a-Service to simplify and lower the cost of deploying a Business Process Platform? Do you see some BPM-as-a-Service complementing some of the more data-centric SaaS offerings available today? Will Web 2.0 technologies contribute to the growth of BPM?

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I'm 2.0'd out by JP Morgenthal

Really, 2.0 this, 2.0 that, c'mon already. When did this become the defacto way to talk about potential innovations in the field? Moreover, what place does RIA hold in a BPM universe? As I stated in my podcast 5 Minutes To Understanding BPM and Workflow, BPM is about ensuring that business processes are operating within normal ranges, so, where does RIA belong in this? Is it the modeling of the process? Is it the UI of the monitoring of a process? I can throw buzzwords around too, but what does that prove? Seriously, moving BPM to the cloud is totally the "I look at BPM through IT-colored glasses" approach to dealing with BPM. That's not going to help the "I look at IT through BPM-colored glasses" crowd and, I venture to say, will only limit their potential to succeed further.

Re: I'm 2.0'd out by Jean-Jacques Dubray

JP:

sorry, for the long delay in replying. I am with you with the "2.0" this or that. as a BPM practitioner, I would however point to a series of problems that BPM-as-a-Service is addressing and that IMHO, has been making it difficult to start BPM initiatives:

a) Tools - Business people have trouble to deal with complex tools and if they finally get it installed on their machines (assuming their machines can accommodate it), they usually will never upgrade it. Using a web-based development environment really simplifies collaborations on process design and implementation (please try it for yourself)

b) Initial Cost - BPM infrastructures cost a bundle to get up and running (pick a number between 500k to 1.5 M). License cost being the least of these costs (0 - 120k). BPM-as-a-Service gives you 3 environments (Design, Test, Production) for 1-2k per month. Usually you get unlimited designer licenses for that price. You need about 1 week of training and you can deploy your first process 2 weeks after that.

Most processes that are initially tackled are low in value (actually a lot of what BPM does beyond the packaged apps is fairly low in value). If you have to find a ROI on $1.5 M compared to 24k / year, you get the picture.

JJ-

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