Is the Shakeup Continuing?

Scott Francis
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There’s been a lot of coverage of what it means for IBM to buy Lombardi.  Jaisundar proposed that this would upset the balance of power and cause more acquisitions… But perhaps the side effect he (and others) didn’t foresee was the positioning of the remaining BPM vendors (pureplay or otherwise) for the benefit of their suitors. First we have Appian’s CEO posting here.  I don’t blame him for putting a stake in the ground that Appian is going to win, and positioning that the only two vendors left that matter are Appian and Pega.  Savvion might disagree, as would a few others, but nevermind.  He states that they’re the only ones strong enough to survive (by which, I would suppose he means financial strength, but he leaves that as an exercise for the reader’s imagination.  I don’t blame him for slagging IBM as killing innovation – in any acquisition like this, that is a very real possibility, and will determine whether this is a successful buy or not (at least, for folks who don’t work for IBM).  But methinks he doth protest too much, and may be trying to make sure that potential suitors remember that Appian still exists in case they want to get in the game by buying something. Next, we have ActionBase, one of my favorite non-traditional BPM offerings.  In a previous post Jacob Ukelson made the argument that Sharepoint should be a better BPM tool than it is.  Now he argues that Sharepoint + Actionbase is that BPM dream team:  unstructured content + unstructured process… If that isn’t a pitch for Microsoft buying a nice Sharepoint add-on I don’t know what is.  Analysts are frothy thinking about how Microsoft or SAP might want to counter IBM’s move, and this is one option. I’m not sure that unstructured process + unstructured data is the dream of every IT shop, but it is certainly a combination prevalent in many processes and organizations.  And of course those two offerings could work well together. So it looks like everyone is putting on their finest Holiday Sweaters and looking to make a good impression for their potential sweethearts.  It’ll be interesting to see if there really is a wave of acquisitions or if this is it. Its the creative destruction process of capitalism at work.  I just hope BPM doesn’t get lost in the woods in the process.
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  • This is a very interesting point of view. That PoV adds some more fuel to the fire of BPM vendor balance of power.

    Assuming IBM makes the best of the deal soon, the other vendors will want to reposition themselves in the market. I am sure many from their teams are already taking walks to the vending machine filling papercups with coffee over the weekend.

    Some would directly address the same market segment that finds appeal in the new IBM BPM stack. Others would try to take up niche slots and assume specialist positions there. Those that want to keep their appeal up to suitors will try hard, and those that are happy to take the journey on by themselves will try equally hard if not harder. I think overall we can expect to see some re-alignment with vendors re-writing their market positions. More noisy market communications, events, et all. A real shakeup like you term it!

  • This is a very interesting point of view. That PoV adds some more fuel to the fire of BPM vendor balance of power.

    Assuming IBM makes the best of the deal soon, the other vendors will want to reposition themselves in the market. I am sure many from their teams are already taking walks to the vending machine filling papercups with coffee over the weekend.

    Some would directly address the same market segment that finds appeal in the new IBM BPM stack. Others would try to take up niche slots and assume specialist positions there. Those that want to keep their appeal up to suitors will try hard, and those that are happy to take the journey on by themselves will try equally hard if not harder. I think overall we can expect to see some re-alignment with vendors re-writing their market positions. More noisy market communications, events, et all. A real shakeup like you term it!

  • If we were talking the most appropriate acquisition for MS, I think it would probably be Ascentn (now AgilePoint). Others in the lens might be Singularity, Skelta, Global 360, K2, … indeed anyone with a .NET focused tooling.

    But as I point out in my recent white paper (available free on BPM Focus web site) the real problem that MS face is not the prettiness of their tooling, it is the underlying Windows Workflow Foundation which is the route cause of all the issues with SharePoint. For Shpt to really kick ass, it needs to start using a robust process engine that can handle the heat – dealing with issues such as in-flight selective process migration, processes that span SharePoint Site Collections. WWF doesnt deliver on that front, and as far as I can tell, Shpt 2010 will be similarly afflicted.

    • Yeah, I guess I don’t mean to judge “best fit” myself, just noting that that’s how I interpret the ActionBase post :)

  • If we were talking the most appropriate acquisition for MS, I think it would probably be Ascentn (now AgilePoint). Others in the lens might be Singularity, Skelta, Global 360, K2, … indeed anyone with a .NET focused tooling.

    But as I point out in my recent white paper (available free on BPM Focus web site) the real problem that MS face is not the prettiness of their tooling, it is the underlying Windows Workflow Foundation which is the route cause of all the issues with SharePoint. For Shpt to really kick ass, it needs to start using a robust process engine that can handle the heat – dealing with issues such as in-flight selective process migration, processes that span SharePoint Site Collections. WWF doesnt deliver on that front, and as far as I can tell, Shpt 2010 will be similarly afflicted.

    • Yeah, I guess I don’t mean to judge “best fit” myself, just noting that that’s how I interpret the ActionBase post :)

  • ActionBase continues beating the drum of ActionBase + Sharepoint – and using Google Wave as the “proof point” that the strategy is a good one:

    First, how actionbase + sharepoint covers all the bases: http://blog.actionbase.com/actionbase-sharepoint-covering-all-the-bases-of-project-oriented-communications

    Second, why sharepoint needs actionBase: http://blog.actionbase.com/why-sharepoint-needs-collaborative-task-tracking-and-management

    Third, getting a system of record for meetings out of sharepoint: http://blog.actionbase.com/making-the-most-of-sharepoint-a-meeting-system-of-record

    Fourth: Combining Email and Wiki, using Wave and Sharepoint+ActionBase as examples: http://blog.actionbase.com/combining-wiki-and-email-collaboration

    Definitely they are getting solidly behind this positioning. Although I think ActionBase’s product is equally complementary to traditional pureplay BPMS offerings.

  • ActionBase continues beating the drum of ActionBase + Sharepoint – and using Google Wave as the “proof point” that the strategy is a good one:

    First, how actionbase + sharepoint covers all the bases: http://blog.actionbase.com/actionbase-sharepoint-covering-all-the-bases-of-project-oriented-communications

    Second, why sharepoint needs actionBase: http://blog.actionbase.com/why-sharepoint-needs-collaborative-task-tracking-and-management

    Third, getting a system of record for meetings out of sharepoint: http://blog.actionbase.com/making-the-most-of-sharepoint-a-meeting-system-of-record

    Fourth: Combining Email and Wiki, using Wave and Sharepoint+ActionBase as examples: http://blog.actionbase.com/combining-wiki-and-email-collaboration

    Definitely they are getting solidly behind this positioning. Although I think ActionBase’s product is equally complementary to traditional pureplay BPMS offerings.

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