BPM Spending and the Hockey Stick

Scott Francis
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There were several reports about BPM spending going into next year, mostly based on the Gartner report to that effect.  Much of the commentary around this report seemed to be to treat it with cynicism:
“I think this is the 10th anniversary of Gartner predicting hockey-stick growth in BPM. Sure to happen some day…” – Sandy Kemsley
Of course, part of the problem is that, if a market has CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 15% or more, EVERY year is going to look like the bend in the hockey stick when you plot it out on a linear graph.  And it appears that that is what we’re seeing in the BPM market today. There are other interesting signs of a change afoot.  Lately, when I tell people what I do for a living in social settings, sometimes people actually know what BPM is.  Or they do when I start to explain it.  More surprising: sometimes they’re actually interested in it.  A few years ago I’d get looks like I was doing something incomprehensible or foreign.  So when gartner says “Spending on business process management (BPM) projects will increase significantly in 2011” I believe them.  Gartner considers 5% increase significant (54% of respondents) and 10% even more significant (20% of respondents).  That actually doesn’t sound like predicting hockey stick growth to me, but maybe the compounded charts into the future make it look that way. I can relate to this somewhat just looking at the historical growth rate at BP3. We’re already having our best year yet in 2011, and setting up for an even better 2012 with the hiring we’re doing.  To anyone in the BPM services or product market, it anecdotally feels like a hockey stick growth curve. Appian’s take:
The hockey stick growth that BPM analysts continue to predict year after year is achievable. But it will not come from the minority of people already focused on process. Neither will it come from incremental updates to old BPM paradigms or from the resolution of debates over BPMN minutiae, for examples. Exponential BPM growth will come through the majority and its rapid adoption of Mobile, Social and Cloud technology.
Well, no one was really talking about “exponential” growth were they? I think they were talking about 15% compounded growth, at most.  And while mobile and social may provide an exponential growth (for a time) in usage, they’re not likely to provide exponential growth in revenue, which is what Gartner is attempting to estimate.  Most users’ expectations is that these social apps are free. (Appian goes on to mention that they’re hiring.  So are we!)

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