One of my responsibilities is to talk to as many customers, partners, and BPM industry experts as possible. I normally have a wide range of conversations relating to BPM, workflow, and business processes in general. With BPM maturing as a technology (growing from workflow), I am often engaged in discussions relating to BPM product innovation, comparison of Ultimus Adaptive BPM Suite with other products in the space, and product vision. While these conversations are certainly important, I also make it a point to remind myself to not take myself so seriously all the time. Meaning, while BPM is as popular and ubiquitous as it has ever been, there is a large percentage of the customer base who are not specifically interested in advanced BPM subjects such as Ultimus version 8's SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) and market differentiating 3D XML data model. Rather, many customers have identified basic problems with their basic manual processes in their work environment. If a BPM product cannot address the simple problems in intuitive and an easy-to-understand format and is mainly geared for "BPM experts", then we as an industry are abandoning a signification portion of today's new customers.
My concerns for the masses of customers who are beginning their BPM initiatives or have yet to start enjoying the benefits of BPM are confirmed with a recent article by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) that hit the wire: http://soa-talk.blogs.techtarget.com/2008/11/19/bpm-adoption-hits-56-in-latest-survey/. In this post, I see that AIIM, a global community for users and suppliers of enterprise content management, is reporting that:
- BPM is already implemented in 56% of IT organizations
- The remaining 44% are planning BPM initiatives in the next 12 months
- AIIM further classifies that the majority of customers interviewed identified back office operation for their primary BPM projects, followed by IT, HR, and Customer Service needs.
These findings match what I am seeing in the BPM space. Today's customers are identifying basic BPM needs for some of their most basic business processes. While Round Trip Optimization is a very important process optimization strategy, how does this relate to today's new BPM customer who is identifying they have HR process needs like Employee Roll On or Vacation Request Management. While established customers will indeed eventually start focusing more on process optimization as they get a process or two up and running, my argument is RTO (Round Trip Optimization) is often not a major factor in new BPM sales. I think it is vital in these types of cases to realize that while we (BPM vendors) eat and drink BPM daily, companies just beginning to think about BPM have basic needs.
One final thought.....As workflow matured to BPM approximately 6-8 years ago, if it has taken this long for 56% of the customers to adopt BPM, and if the other 44% will begin their adoption in the next 12 months, all BPM vendors stand to be VERY busy and stand to generate GREAT revenues in 2009.
VP Product Marketing and Management