Bruce Silver’s Impressions at #IBMImpact by

We were pleased to run into Bruce Silver at Impact and he has since posted his impressions of the conference on his blog.

Process innovation was a central theme of last week’s IBM Impact conference – it took center stage in the Day 2 Main Tent – but the term BPM has seemingly been banished at IBM, replaced by “Smarter Process”.  Now BPM is just the name of one product in the larger Smarter Process marketecture, shown below.

I think this is a key insight into IBM’s marketing.  It would have been easy to walk away from the conference thinking IBM didn’t care about BPM – because they were using the words “Smarter Process” all the time.  Honestly I think this is a mistake.  Smarter Process is IBM’s tagline that encompasses BPM, ODM, and Case Management (as well as operational intelligence).  But BPM is a term that is very familiar to customers, vendors, analysts, and media.  I think IBM should have been talking about BPM more explicitly alongside their Smarter Process messaging.  When Quality was Job 1 at Ford, they didn’t stop talking about their cars, after all!

The new buzzword this year seemed to be “Systems of Interaction” –  which is an interesting spin on things like Systems of Record and the Internet of Things.

Bruce points out the real risks inherent in IBM’s  ambitious strategy:

It’s an interesting story, and one that IBM can tell better than anyone else.  At Impact, they showed that they have many of the components already.  But today, assembling them into true Smarter Processes would seem to require a substantial investment […]  There is something in IBM’s DNA that is always drawn to that.  But that is exactly what puts it at odds with IBM’s very successful BPM story for the past three years.

And what was that successful BPM story based on?

That Lombardi-driven revolution was based on:

  • Model-driven development, not a lot of special code
  • Common graphical models shared by business and IT
  • Business-IT collaboration throughout the implementation cycle, featuring playback and iterative enhancement
  • Business-oriented governance to stimulate growth from project to program to business transformation

Amen, Bruce.  I, too, worry that the BPM stack could become more of a technical haven rather than the land of business-IT collaboration that it has been in the past.  And while expanding the reach into “Smarter Process” and “Systems of Interaction”, IBM can’t lose sight of reconciling products and offerings to create, to coin a phrase, “Systems of Simplicity” when we’re done modeling and tying things together.

Bruce goes on to talk about each area and his grade: Decision Management, Mobile Enablement, Insight to Action, and Integration Bus.  Great read!  And, best of all, an honorable mention of BP3 – Thanks Bruce! (emphasis added):

Mobile enablement.  A developer license for Worklight is now inside the BPM box, along with sample code, simplifying development of mobile apps and coaches integrated with BPM.  In the Solution Center, BP3′s mobile toolkit looked even better, with less development effort.  The Perceive and Act part of the mobile Smarter Process appears to be well on its way.  Grade: A-

Worklight is great.  But many people don’t understand that Worklight “wraps” your UI development framework – whatever it is – rather than providing its own unique UI framework.  If you look at what UI frameworks are supported, there are a bunch – 6 as of last year’s Impact, probably more now.  Plus Worklight supports native iOS and Android apps, for example.  Brazos (BP3’s mobile toolkit) is simply one more UI framework that, while specialized for IBM BPM, is easily wrapped by Worklight just like every other BPM UI. So while Brazos is 100% compatible with Worklight, it is more importantly 100% compatible with IBM BPM!  And Brazos will make your mobile UI look great out of the box.

We saw some pretty sad examples of mobile UI demonstrated at Impact. There’s just no reason to have a UI that isn’t beautiful anymore.  All the more reason to work with BP3’s Brazos toolkit if your mobile apps are connected to processes.

Bruce also called attention to the “Donut Hole” – his pet peeve that IBM doesn’t provide enough pure BPMN support for people who are pure modelers.  There are visible signs that IBM is moving in this direction from almost everyone I talk to at IBM.  It is encouraging.

Finally, Bruce gives a harsh grade on Case Management.  This isn’t so much about technology.  We implement case management style processes all the time at BP3, using IBM BPM (often in combination with Filenet, Alfresco, or Documentum for ECM).  But not having the external story straight for customers is what has Bruce disappointed.  From the outside, it is obvious that Case Management is part of the BPM (or Smarter Process) solution set.  Time for the hold outs to get on board.

(More to come from our perspective on Impact over the next few days!)