A good dust-up in BPM

Scott Francis
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Not too long ago Jim Rudden posted a fun read at Lombardi’s Blog Site, and Bruce Silver responded with an equally good post here. I couldn’t resist commenting on Bruce’s post…  I hope he won’t mind since I haven’t been a regular contributor of comments to his (or any other) blogs lately, but I hope to be more involved in the future.  To sum up my three basic points more quickly:
  1. Not having a stack is rarely a sales problem for the pure-plays once they are in an evaluation with a customer.  (clearly, it is an advantage for the stackers to have a big customer-list to go calling on and get evaluations started… but once a multi-vendor evaluation is going, not having a stack is just not perceived as a problem by buyers).
  2. The whole point of SOA is interoperability.  So having bought a Stacker’s SOA stack just has very little bearing (technically speaking) on whether I buy any of their other products that bolt onto that.  I evaluate each of those products against other products in that space from both other Stackers, and from pureplays.  This isn’t just true for BPM, but also for doc management and J2EE servers and databases and content management…
  3. Time-value-of-money still favors the pure-plays.  If you have a process implementation that can save you $1M/quarter, you can’t afford to wait 2 years to get the software you need from your Stack Vendor.  That software will have cost you $8MM (assuming no growth in your business nor worsening of the process in question) before you give one dime to the software vendor.  By all means, buy software that works today and save as much of that $8MM opportunity as you can!
But my favorite part about all of the market analysis is that the big guys will “catch up” to the smaller players in the space.  Short of acquiring the pure plays I just don’t see how that happens.  The Stackers have so much inertia and so many lines of code to maintain, it is really quite hard for them to develop new products.  Let alone new products that appear to infringe on the turf of legacy products :)  History doesn’t show catchup through organic development investment happening that often in large software companies, and they’re running out of good pure plays to acquire! From my perspective, I wish them all well in expanding the BPM marketplace.  I see a huge potential benefit to customers in having successful BPM roll-outs, and healthy competition can help create good solutions for customers, and for BPM practitioners like myself (ok, I admit to some self-interest here :