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Effektif, Tom Baeyens' Latest BPM Venture, Launches Cloud-Based Tool

by Charles Humble on Jan 14, 2014 |

Effektif (pronounced "effective") is launching version 1 of its cloud-based BPM product today. As we reported last year, Effektif was started and is lead by Tom Baeyens, the original creator of JBoss' jBPM (acquired by Red Hat) and Activiti, owned by Alfresco. It was set up in partnership with Signavio who invested €1.2m to accelerate development, and who will also be selling the product using their existing channels.

Whilst both Baeyens and Signavio have a background in BPM, Effektif at it stands today has a different emphasis, taking its cues more from a task management system than a BPM tool. This isn't to say that more traditional BPM capabilities won't be added over time, but as it stands the product is very much aimed at allowing business users to create and manage tasks. As such, Baeyens' team have put a great deal of emphasis on the user interface, aiming to make it as simple and accessible as possible.

Effektif comprises three conceptual layers. The first is a browser-based wizard aimed at providing a simple mechanism to enable business users to define tasks and create forms for those tasks and handovers. This part of the product is complete and is available today for free. It also includes APIs that allow Effektif to be embedded into third party applications - again for free. The APIs support creating new tasks and sub-tasks, adding documents and so on.

Effectif UI Screenshot

The second layer adds a set of adaptors to integrate with other cloud-based packaged applications. Work is in progress for adaptors for Google Drive, Salesforce and Box and these are expected in "the next few weeks" Baeyens told us.

The third and final layer - activity workers - will allow developers to write custom software to be included in a workflow. This is expected in one to two months' time, according to Baeyens. The shipping product does provide a scripting engine and an on-line IDE with code completion for JavaScript. The scripts execute on a Node.js instance. Skeletons will be added for Java and other languages over time.

These three layers roughly map to the three editions of the product. The collaboration space, which includes document sharing and a shared task list, is available today and is free. A "Team Workflow" version will add support for process flows and cloud connectors. This will be free for the first five users. Finally a planned Enterprise version will add more advanced integration capabilities and analytics.

In terms of core architecture, the engine is being developed using Java and uses Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) 2.0. The team were going to use the Restlet framework to build the REST layer, but have switched to using their own framework. Jackson is used to process JSON. As already mentioned the product uses Node.js for JavaScript execution.

Effektif is entering a crowded market, worth around $5bn according to Forester. Many of the major players already have cloud offerings including Appian, Fujitsu, Kofax, and Pegasystems. Appian Cloud is Java-based and is now used by "several hundred organizations and public-sector agencies, with more than 45,000 users", according to Gartner. Fujitsu's RunMyProcess is used by more than 350 companies and 23,000 users in 44 countries. Kofax, whose Microsoft Technology-based TotalAgility launched as a BPM PaaS in 2012, has 50 companies signed up (over half in the US). Finally Pegasystems cloud offering has 70 companies with 30,000 named users. There are also a number of smaller more task-orientated niche players including Zapier and IFTTT, and Effektif has clearly taken some inspiration from these. Given this I asked Baeyens what advantages he felt Effektif offered. "We concentrate on making it simpler," he told us:

We have the background: Me from building a large chunk of the currently operating process engines. And Signavio has a successful track record in building a booming SaaS business on BPM modelling.

The timing is perfect for redefining workflow. In recent years, the cloud has produced a huge number of startups creating innovation. IFTTT and Zapier are two very cool examples. The same functionality used to require an ESB and a couple of developers. Now a non tech person can have their light switched on whenever they get mentioned in a tweet. All that in a matter of minutes.

A similar transformation is what we will bring to workflow. We'll make it simpler and offer it with a great user experience so that many more people can actually use it in their daily routines.

So we have the background, we have the great inspiration from the cloud service boom, and we can work this out as a native cloud service.

Effektif uses a proprietary non-open-source license. You can sign-up and try it out from the Effektif website. The firm will also be running two launch webiners on the February 3rd and 6th to give you a chance to find out more.

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