"It Just Confirms I'm as Smart as I Thought I Was" part 2

Scott Francis
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Gartner’s 2010 Magic Quadrant for BPM Suites is out.  As Sandy Kemsley points out, you can almost determine the contents of the report from the requisite vendor press releases (which reminds me of our previous post on the Forrester Wave):
However, three of the leaders have a lot to say about it: At some point, you could probably reconstruct the Leaders quadrant based on press releases; many of the vendors in the other quadrants don’t bother to do a release about it (do they have to pay Gartner for that?): consider that IBM placed all three of its major BPM products in this MQ, but I only saw a press release about the one in the Leaders quadrant.
Luckily, you don’t have to reconstruct it if you are a lucky partner or customer of one of these vendors, they may be quite willing to share the report with you (presumably they’ve paid for the rights to share with their customers).  I think there were some interesting takeaways from this year’s magic quadrant. And not just that it differs so much from Forrester’s evaluation (in particular, the position of the Lombardi suite is dramatically different between the two… and if I may say so, I think Gartner has that positioning more correctly than does Forrester). First, Gartner’s focus has shifted to four key usage scenarios, which paraphrased are:
  • continuous process improvement
  • industry-specific or company specific implementations
  • business transformation initiatives
  • process-based SOA redesign
I do like the fact that when Gartner has an opinion they go ahead and put it out there (in Gartner’s opinion, model-driven process execution, as opposed to code-based execution, is preferable).  Its refreshing to have those types of things spelled out.  You can disagree, but you know where they stand on that issue. They also take great pains to note the difference between “market leaders” and “best product” (the two are not the same, though strong product offering is a contributor to market leader status). Gartner specifically called out an emphasis on “cohesiveness” of the suite, and support for all of the four key scenarios, above.  As Gartner puts it “The individual composition technologies are often well-proven on their own. Since we are evaluating a suite, we consider how well these technologies work together, and how easy it is for someone (a composer) to use the complete environment.” The emphasis is now on evaluating as a whole rather than evaluating the solutions in parts and then summing the scores for each part.  Experience might be harder to evaluate objectively, but this is a move in the right direction. In light of recent discussions of why experience matters, I think this is a welcome shift in Gartner’s evaluation methodology – especially for BPM.  As I’ve noted before, BPM is typically comprised of doing many simple things right – but knowing which of the many things you can do is the trick.  With a BPMS, it isn’t a matter of brand new tech so much as it is composing existing technology in ways that really make sense at a deeper level to the composer. The market trends that Gartner observes bode well for BPM consultancies like ours – a greater emphasis on continuous process improvement and business transformation. We observed anecdotally, and Gartner confirms, that in 2009 BPM initiatives continued to receive funding in a VERY challenging economic and funding climate. A surprise entrant in the leaders quadrant is Adobe – under the radar (to me), Adobe has grown quite a business around BPM. The pure-play heritage BPM vendors make a strong showing in the leader’s quadrant, either independently or as the purchased solutions of large vendors (IBM, Progress, Software AG, etc. ) In describing leaders, Gartner explicitly calls out the “experience” as being a critical differentiator. I found it interesting, as well, that Gartner concurs with my own experience vis-a-vis Lombardi customers (now IBM Websphere Lombardi Edition) – that they are the most advanced in BPM maturity.  I think this is a result of the consulting (and product) culture we cultivated at Lombardi (during the time I was there at least).  What a great endorsement of the excellent people who worked in Lombardi’s professional services group.  (it is, also, an endorsement of the sales group – whose job it is to open customers’ eyes to the possibilities, and to the customers, who have seized the opportunity of BPM with both hands and made the most of it). Overall, this report tells me that despite the acquisitions, there is no shortage of BPM vendors in the market, no shortage of real choices for customers.  And there is still so much for these vendors to improve on – the innovations to come could make a huge difference for BPM professionals in the near future. Congratulations to the leaders in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, I hope the increased market exposure will inspire you all to innovate BPM in ways we haven’t yet imagined (and in some of the ways we’ve imagined, but waited impatiently for!).

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