The Future of BPM: A Storm Before Calm?

Many BPM product vendors have announced impressive results and as Scott Francis mentions in this post, BPM companies have really started to crow about their growth despite the recession.

While there’s a wee bit of understandable scepticism about the validity of those claims, they do tie-in to market outlook from months ago predicting a higher investment in technologies such as BPM that will help organizations minimise cost and improve efficiency.

Jim Sinur in this insightful post titled Is BPM becoming Viral, says he does observe an increased use of BPM. Jim poses a question that has been nagging my mind in the recent past – considering that the heightened interest in BPM is coming from a compulsion to cut costs and improve efficiency, is this wave a phase? Would the interest in BPM wane as the recession eases out?

Jim presents two possible scenarios – a ‘pro’  view that suggests that BPM will sustain in the long run, and a ‘con’ view that suggests that BPM is experienceing a temporary lift phase.

The fact that cost compulsions certainly contribute to increased interest in BPM is probably validated by the release of cloud versions by many BPM vendors – And cloud BPM certainly stands more for a lower cost proposition than many of the other benefits of BPM. Of course, one can interpret it differently by saying, for most organizations it is indeed the other benefits of BPM that are important, but because of stringent budgets, the cloud option may be compelling since it offers a cheaper entry point alternative.

I have come across organizations that were close to investing in licensed BPMS before budget constraints made them hit the ‘pause’ button. Given the fact that they understood and appreciated the need to hold back expenditure, they were also pretty charged on the benefits a BPMS initiative could bring to the organization – and cost was not really the primary benefit they were looking for. While some of them did toy with lower-cost alternatives like open-source and cloud these are the organizations are likely to invest in BPMS when the economy recovers and budgets get back to normal – and they add strength to the ‘pro’ point of view.

The ‘con’ Jim mentions in his post may be a hard line of thinking for BPM believers to deal with. But, as he says, BPM will sustain.

What’s your take?

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4 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. 1

    Jaisunder-

    I’ve certainly seen companies cancel or postpone all kinds of capital expenditures (capex), and in some cases, they’ve punted on their purchases of licensed BPMS software.

    However, for those who have already purchased software, we’re seeing accelerated plans to deploy processes on their BPMS. And anecdotally, it looks to me like companies are starting to free up that capex to invest in BPMS software. I think the economic situation is giving BPM a boost, but BPM still has small penetration in the market relative to its potential, and I expect the interest in BPM to intensify as the economy improves, as the followers try to catch up to the early adopters and leaders in their space(s). I wouldn’t worry about a “slowdown” in BPM until after the economy has been improving for about 2 years…

    [Reply]

  2. Jaisundar

    2

    Scott – It is very interesting that this press note is being released while we are having this conversation.

    The Gartner press release also seems to state the same point you made that the economic situation is giving BPM a boost.

    I think you make a very interesting point about when a ‘slowdown’ in BPM is likely. In other words – and correct me if my interpretation is off mark – spend on BPM (first time buy) is likely to be a curve that works opposite to conventional IT spend. An organization would feel compelled to unlock hidden costs, efficiency, etc., when the going is tough – and they look at BPM. Those compulsions would wane and the curve will go down as the market eases and tight fists loosen around budgets – while at the same time conventional IT spend curve goes up.

    It’s not clear to me what size these organizations are that Gartner talks about. But I think there will be two kinds of organizations – one that looks at BPM for savings related benefits – no further. And the other for all the other benefits (process control, visibility, agility and continuous improvement).

    I think the real market for the real BPM is the second kind. I think this is the market you were referring to when you said BPM penetration is not up to the potential. Couldn’t agree more with you.

    [Reply]

  3. 3

    Jaisundar

    My take is that the most successful BPM initiatives taking place over the next few years will remove the bloat of the typical BPM project.

    In light of disclosure, I work for Serena Software and we offer a Lean BPM solution–so I may be a tad biased :)

    Our customers rely our our technology to design and deploy process-based applications at a fraction of the cost of traditional BPM systems. I see a lot of organizations adopt solutions for Lean BPM either in lieu of traditional BPMSs, or as a means of augmenting existing BPMS investments.

    Besides seeing our customers trim the fat of BPM initiatives, Forrester, ebizQ, etc.have been talking about this lean and pragmatic approach to BPM as well. Have you seen a similar movement as part of the BPM trends and markets you’ve been following?

    Thanks,
    Tim

    [Reply]

  1. | Bouncing Thoughts - Dec 20th, 2009

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