Picking at the Gartner 2012 Magic Quadrant for iBPMS, part 2

Scott Francis
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I thought we could spend another post picking at the Magic Quadrant further – both where it might be right (and why), and where it might be too optimistic or pessimistic.

Looking at the vendors outside of the three Vendors That Matter:

Bosch.  Ok.  I have to admit, I thought I had heard of every BPM suite on the market, but this one was new to me.  The fact that it is a small division of a $70B private company is dubious recommendation in my book. I’m not sure, based on what was written in the report, how Bosch essentially scores fourth in the MQ.  Nicer things were said about some of Bosch’s competitors, and I’ve literally never heard of their BPM offering before now.

Cordys.  They were placed in the niche players quadrant (not where you want to be as a vendor).  I have to hand it to them in one evaluation in which I saw they’re work they did a great job of relaying the customer’s requirements into a coherent demonstration.  I’d love to understand how they compared with Bosch for example – what drove the difference in scoring?  I would have put these two in the same bucket based on what I can see in the report.  It looks like they got dinged the most for not having “intelligent” capabilities referenced by customers.

DST Systems. They seem to come and go from the BPM universe.  I think they’re placed about right given that they’re focused more on using BPM as a way of adding flexibility to their existing software packages.  Gartner acknowledges that they are not well-recognized as a BPM vendor, and Sandy Kemsley’s coverage of their latest user conference was like unearthing a hidden BPM society.  Usually when a software company is keeping secrets, there’s a reason.  It looks like now DST is feeling confident enough in AWD to get some publicity.  Of course, DST is another vendor that never adopted BPMN as its primary process notation. It doesn’t sound like that is a good thing, in this case.

OpenText.  Well this is the marriage of many BPM products.  So many that the list of products get their own paragraph.  Since the acquisitions, I just haven’t seen OpenText products in competitive evaluation situations – but as a small company we only hear about a small fraction of the total number of deals, so take that with a grain of salt. What concerns me is that here is yet another vendor using non-standard process modeling language – but without being able to promote any special benefits for this notation.  So they have many products to merge and create a roadmap from that-  but they still don’t support basic industry standards like BPMN…

Oracle. They’re probably not too happy with we’re they’re slotted, barely in the visionaries quadrant rather than niche players.  But honestly, they are lucky to be positioned as well as they are, given their recent history.  Bruce Silver recently covered their offering, and I think the key passage was this:

If this sounds to you suspiciously like the path IBM went down in the shift from Process Server to Lombardi, I think so too.  If you remember, IBM first positioned Lombardi as “departmental” BPM and Process Server as, I guess, “real” BPM.  But it didn’t take very long before “IBM BPM” was basically Lombardi, and Process Server became just the SOA stack.  My bet is that Oracle will follow on a similar path, with Composer becoming a mainstream development environment for corporate developers and SIs, not just a sandbox for business users.  Or, to put it slightly differently, I think Oracle BPM would be more successful if they positioned and supported Composer in this way.  Today that doesn’t seem to be Oracle’s vision for BPM.  But in early 2010, handing the BPM keys to Lombardi wasn’t IBM’s vision, either.

A few bones to pick:  Oracle bought their BPM product (Fuego, inside of BEA), two years before Lombardi sold to IBM.  And two years AFTER the Lombardi acquisition, Oracle still hasn’t come as far on the product strategy, marketing, and positioning (not to mention actual product development) as IBM has in half the time.  It is kind of astonishing when you compare the two.

Also, to be fair to IBM, that “departmental” positioning lasted about two months before they realized that wasn’t going to fly.  And by the time one year had elapsed, Lombardi was the lead horse in their BPM stable.  It may be too late for Oracle to hand the keys to the Fuego team – by all accounts all of those folks have long since left. Oracle never really took BPM seriously, in my conversations with current and former Oracle employees.  They were literally surprised to find out that BEA owned a BPM product. That just isn’t a recipe for success.

PNMsoft.  They’re .NET focused, which just hasn’t been a winning strategy in BPM (ask OpenText’s many acquisitions).  It sounds like they’re a niche vendor in Western Europe, which is a good recipe for a future acquisition by OpenText, I’d say.

Software AG.  They’re BPMS is based upon webMethods BPM, a product I was never too impressed by due to observing its performance in competitive evaluations back in the 2000’s.  Other parts of webMethods seemed much more robust.  It doesn’t surprise me that the projects tend to “have long development cycles”, along with several other yellow caution flags.

Tibco Software. Tibco can’t be too happy with their placement, but whether Gartner had the right reasons or not, it may be a “fair” positioning in that they’re not in the leader’s quadrant due to a lower “ability to execute” scoring.  The “strengths” section leads off with Tibco having “all the components to make a great iBPMS.”  That is faint praise – a bit like saying they have a bunch of pieces but don’t have a vision of the whole.  It really raises the question of why they’re positioned so far to the right on the visionary axis, and in that respect I’d give credit to their CEP background and their Nimbus acquisition – both of which lend their BPM portfolio a bit of that “vision” thing.

The big red flag is that there aren’t many production deployments of AMX BPM – and thus the lower execution score.  AMX was a reboot of their BPM strategy – so it isn’t a surprise that it has been a bit rough.

Vitria.  Now here’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time.  Vitria used to look like a big company to me back when I first started at Lombardi in 2003.  Now they’re listed as a small company with limited financial resources.  Like the other EA vendors (hi, Tibco, webMethods), they just never fully made the transition to BPM, because they weren’t focused on people.  I remember these companies laughing at the Lombardi approach in 2003-2004.

Whitestein.  So I thought Bosch was going to be the only company I hadn’t heard of in this report. Let’s make it two companies.  Here at least, the company is espousing their alternate modeling approach as an advantage over BPMN – although it looks like they also support BPMN.

Lots of Vendors Left Off.  I’m sure a couple vendors feel like they got left off and should have been included.  There are probably 100+ companies in the BPM space.  Clearly, the way Gartner has chosen to evaluate, there is a stark separation between the haves and the have-nots.  That lends some credibility to Gartner’s analysis, to be honest, but it has to be disappointing for vendors who feel like they are working hard to compete in this space.

One of the surprising things is that a couple of vendors don’t support BPMN at all.  What concerns me is that here is how many vendors are using non-standard process modeling languages – but without being able to promote any special benefits for their notation.  If you’re going to do something different, do it with a purpose.  Don’t be different and inferior! Or different solely due to historical reasons or current lack of investment.

In part 3, we can take a look at some other nuggets buried in the back half of the report.

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  • “Vitria. Now here’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time….” You sound like Obi-wan Kenobi ;)

    Whitestein I’ve come across and know a couple of peeps there, yes Western Europe but remember there’s more to BPM than just the US Scott.

    SoftwareAG customers are unhappy with the interface too because of how the UI is implemented, plus, and lets face it, buying up ARIS was a terrible idea.

    Vitria I took a look at a few years back and they were nothing in the BPM space, now this ? It’s a bit of a stretch of the imagination indeed.

    PNMSoft have some interesting new developments, and they are partially responsible for the Synergy product in the Casewise stack.

    Bosch….they make good screwdrivers, perhaps for attaching that A1 process map to the wall…..seriously though they have this “internet of things” concept which I’m getting a taste of later but this curveball has thrown the grenade with the pigeons for a lot of vendors.

    And as for being penalized for “not having “intelligent” capabilities referenced by customers…” I’m sorry but this is a market vertical invented by Gartner 12 months ago to satisfy a need to “differentiate” the bigger players and poorly attempt to show some sort of thought-leadership and influence the market.

    “If you’re going to do something different, do it with a purpose.” – You should have aimed this at Gartner, not at the vendors mate.

    • you picked up my star wars reference perfectly ;)
      I know there’s more to the world (and BPM) than just the US ;) but obviously as a US-based company I’m not going to see products that don’t have much presence here nearly as often. And yet, I read your blog and MWD and it seems like every other BPM blog in the universe, and I have *never* heard of them. So it seems no one in europe is writing about them either :)

      I like that “grenade with the pigeons” expression :)

      (I can’t argue with you on the “invention”, I’m just observing why someone seems to be being penalized, not arguing that it is “right” or “just” :)

      Oh, except Theo, Gartner isn’t trying to do something different – this has been their business model / plan for many years! I look at MWD as an example of a firm that is doing things a bit differently. And experimenting with their pricing model, business model, etc.

      • Hi Scott! Interesting to read your blogs without having looked at the MQ report (just been too busy). Bosch purchased German specialist Inubit, which though I admit we haven’t written about in a while, we did write a report on back in 2009 (see here: http://www.mwdadvisors.com/library/detail.php?id=147). Likewise Whitestein, in 2010 (see here: http://www.mwdadvisors.com/library/detail.php?id=311). I don’t know whether we blogged about them though.

      • Neil – thanks for that post which reminds me that inubit wasn’t just the name of the product, but the name of the company – which does jog my memory a bit. I do find it interesting how some companies get sort of “stuck” in Germany only or US only (software companies I mean). If anyone would be up to date on all vendors BPM , it would be MWD :)