Forrester Crashing the Party Again by

Just when you thought you were safe from Analysts’ judgment, a new Forrester Wave comes out and ranks all the vendors in your space.  Last time it was Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, this time it is Forrester’s Wave.

Clay Richardson’s Forrester blog gets first billing here on the subject:

Whether you’re looking to enter into BPM from a DCM perspective, a human workflow perspective, a smart process perspective, or a straight-through processing perspective is really only one piece of the puzzle. The other big piece of the puzzle focuses on building out sustainable practices that continue to deliver real business value and transformational benefits over an extended period of time.

I like his framing- the idea that you’re not buying BPM for DCM or straight-through processing, per se – you’re buying into BPM as a platform for change.

And so the focus of the evaluation of the wave has shifted also, to focus on how these tools help:

  • Design and deliver the right customer experiences
  • Use business architecture to connect strategy to implementation
  • Build end-to-end processes that span multiple process patterns

The official report is here, available for $2495 when I checked.

Theo Priestley has a spirited take in “Surf’s Up: Forrester’s BPMS Wave for 2013 is Out“.  He is frustrated that Forrester continues to overlook smaller or open source vendors (e.g. Bonitasoft, as he calls out), and that frustration is likely shared by the vendors.

I’m not surprised at their take overall.  The “Three Vendors That Matter” are still IBM, Pega, and Appian, in this report, as in Gartner’s.

A few notes from my perspective, however:

  1. Forrester notes that historically, they tracked BPM software across three different segments: “document-centric BPM suites, human-centric BPM suites, and integration-centric BPM suites”.  However, no one outside of Gartner was satisfied with this splintering of the market, because it didn’t reflect how customers evaluated BPM software.
  2. I like that they’ve picked up on BPM as a tool for improving customer experience- this is something BP3 has emphasized, and we worked on it at Lombardi as well when I was there (which is why Lombardi customers were often considered among the most mature of the customer-bases that analysts talked to).
  3. They’ve noticed and commented on social and mobile features, though I wouldn’t necessarily group these together.
  4. Much like Paul Harmon at bpmNEXT, Forrester observes that BPM has yet to play a blockbuster role across the enterprise (at least, not publicly!).  Specifically they call out reducing the costs of installation and configuration by deploying in cloud models – which of course is why BP3 offers BP Deploy for cloud deployments of IBM BPM – deploying in a few minutes is pretty awesome.
  5. Forrester accurately depicts Oracle as “incompletely participating” in the market.
  6. It was nice to see recognition from Forrester that IBM really has stitched together its many technical components into a unified experience.  Hats off to Phil Gilbert and Lombardians and IBMers for pulling this off.

Overall, I think this wave reflects stronger analysis and a more coherent story about BPM – and why they evaluated the way they did – than the previous Gartner report (or the previous Forrester reports, for that matter).  I like the cohesiveness and although I could quibble with a few details I couldn’t tell you that the placement on the chart is wrong because I don’t have the raw data that they were evaluating.

Now that the major firms have released their updates, we likely have a quiet period of 12-18 months before we go through the next round of vendor placement in BPM – let’s hope there’s a lot of progress from all the vendors concerned between now and then!