BPM Space Analysis of Today: Big Fish or Big Dinosaurs?

by Taylor Leighton on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 @ 01:49 PM

A recent Gartner post from Jim Sinur suggests that “Big Fish” vendors new in the BPM space are introducing new competition for the already existing “Smaller Fish” BPM vendors.  The maturation of a market space, IT or non-IT (BPM or otherwise), where big vendors finally enter into the space to compete is inevitable.  And I agree with Jim on two points he makes:

  • “Big Fish” vendors have impact on all other vendors in the space
  • Other vendors in the space must find their technological niche / place / specialty

It is this second point that I wish to explore further, especially within the BPM space.

Jim goes on to make the points that speed to innovation, finding a niche in an innovation vein, and then “duck[ing] into a niche” would be the ideal approach for the “Smaller Fish”.  I argue that besides just taking a technology perspective to the livelihood of the space, the “Smaller Fish” BPM vendors can remain competitive and even thrive by providing values to customers not suited for “Big Fish” vendors.  “Smaller Fish” vendors have unique abilities to sell and service customers in the areas of:

  • Pricing options best suited for focused implementations
  • Personal customer service
  • Responsiveness to needed BPM product changes

An example of the previous points:  We were recently contacted by a prior opportunity that chose to go with a “Big Fish” over a year ago.  The opportunity admitted that their original BPM vendor choice was highly influenced by how well known the name of the “Big Fish” was.  After nearly 8 months in failed efforts to model and automate their first enterprise-wide business process, the company’s director grew frustrated with the high cost of professional services, multiple project managers, and inability to solve even the simplest of problems without multiple conference calls and planning meetings.  Nearly $400K has been spent to this point with nothing to show for it.  Ultimus has now been asked to lead their BPM project in the way we feel is best for any sized company:  start small but think BIG.  By providing one single price which includes the BPM software license and a packed automated process solution, as well as a detailed project plan (that is based on weeks, not months) that is committed to by our solutions team, the opportunity’s executives now have the confidence to promote a BPM solution and direction within their company.

Just because a “Big Fish” vendor gains entry into a market and can create a technology solution, it does not mean it will be successful (think Google’s social endeavor with Wave).  With this inability to execute, are we talking “Big Fish” or “Big Dinosaurs”?  While the largest of dinosaurs of old did indeed rule the world in the past, they became extinct and the smaller reptiles survived, many of which thrive in the present day.


Relevant Links:

Successful BPM Suites Are More Than Subjective Technology Evaluation Grades

Think “Small” When Starting With BPM: Recipe For Immediate ROI


Chris Adams

VP Product and Technology


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This post was written by Taylor Leighton