A Few Shots Across the Bow of IBM

Scott Francis
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Looks like I wasn’t the only one who noticed that IBM picked a name for their new “social BPM” site that sounds suspiciously like the most familiar name in that space – Lombardi’s Blueprint.  In my previous post, I noted that the naming seemed a bit suspicious (IBM’s BPM Blueworks) in that there’s no particular reason to include the word “Blue” in the name… Meanwhile, Jim Rudden, VP of Marketing at Lombardi, responded on their blog:
In particular, we could not help but notice the name similarity with Blueprint — our cloud based process mapping and modeling application that has been on the market for two years. Now, before you call me paranoid, know that we average several thousand hits to our website per quarter from IBM labs in China, Italy, Germany, Canada and the US. And we get dozens of requests for Blueprint accounts from IBM Labs across the world every quarter. So, at the very least, the IBM team was aware of Blueprint — if not imitating it. They are not the first to follow Blueprint’s lead — and won’t be the last.
Jim doesn’t pull too many punches in his response to IBM’s announcement.  It is certainly interesting that IBM labs are hitting Lombardi’s Blueprint so frequently, and requesting so many accounts. He has some substantive arguments about whether IBM’s release will really “democratize” process modeling the way Lombardi’s Blueprint purports to do (its a good read whether you agree or not). Meanwhile, Forrester’s business process blog has made note of the IBM announcement as well, in a post titled “Not Your Daddy’s IBM” by Robert Richardson. He accurately describes IBM’s participation in the BPM market circa 2006, and concludes from the announcements at their annual user conference that IBM now “gets it”.  I think it is reasonable to assume that IBM picked up some new BPM-related “DNA” with some of its acquisitions – notably that of Webify here in Austin, TX.  But IBM is a big company, and change comes slowly.  Although I think BPM makes even more sense for IBM to focus on than SOA, they have, instead, been beating the SOA drum for the last 5+ years.  So I think we’re justified in taking a wait-and-see attitude about announcements, and wait to see the shipping products. IBM is due to release BPM Blueworks on June 26.  Lombardi is about to deliver a new version of Blueprint as well (they ship new versions approximately every quarter, and Blueprint has been live for over two years now).  Hopefully IBM will offer trial versions so we can do a bit of a comparison at that point (and maybe a few more fireworks).