“You’ve Done Everything We Asked You to. And More.” by

Lombardi – Seen but not Heard

If there was a theme at IBM Impact, besides the obvious – “Smarter Process” and “Systems of Interaction” – it was Lombardi. No one mentioned Lombardi on stage.  No one from Lombardi took the main stage to talk about it.  But the theme of the General Sessions was Lombardi.  Allow me to explain.

The emphasis among analysts and pundits, when discussing IBM’s acquisition of Lombardi, has always been on two elements:

  1. The product and features acquired in the transaction – Lombardi Teamworks (now IBM BPM) and Blueprint (now Blueworks Live)
  2. The “DNA” acquired in the product management, design, and engineering groups, reflected in the radical simplification of IBM’s process product portfolio (40 to FOUR).  This was arguably a bigger win than even the products themselves.

But there’s a third element:  customers. 

Best Customer Acquisitions Ever?

In a very real way, IBM acquired Lombardi’s customers, and the benefits that accrue.  Lombardi’s customers were often cited by analysts as being the most mature in their thinking about BPM, in a passing way, as if it is some kind of cosmic coincidence.  None of the analysts dug further to figure out why that might be.  But they did note the difference.  Of course, those of us in Lombardi’s professional services group and at BP3 knew why we had the most mature customers – it was thanks to hard work on our part and on our customers’ part.  IBM probably never imagined in 2010, that when they put 6 ACE award winners on the stage at IBM Impact that fully HALF of them would be Lombardi customers.

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Take a look at that chart.  There are three Lombardi heritage customers on that list.  PNC merged with NCC, a famously good reference for Lombardi.  In the process of that acquisition, the “Lombardi” flavor of BPM won internally, and PNC in turn became a fabulous reference for IBM.  Marc Fasbinder’s name is well-known at IBM and among partners.

Similarly, Pensco acquired Lincoln Trust, and I understand that a big ingredient in that acquisition was the Lombardi-based platform Lincoln Trust built to support and improve their business.  Bill Garner has been not only a great reference for Lombardi and IBM, but also for BP3.

Banco Espirito Santo (BES for short) has been one of the best references on the planet for IBM BPM (and Lombardi before that).  One of their Impact attendees was wearing a “Reference Hero” ribbon.  I asked them at the conference if they would do a reference for one of our customers concerned about scaling # of users.  “Yes, of course” was the response. BES did a presentation on Thursday morning where they revealed that they have over 900 process definitions in production, and 1.2 million processes were executed in 2012.  Talk about a mature, managed-by-process, organization.  They’re doing it right.

And on the main stage, for the second year out of 4, Ford was presenting.  And Ford is a major Lombardi and IBM BPM customer.

IBM acquired a fantastic roster of reference-able customers.  They’re not just good references, they’re deep references, from different industries, different market segments.  They’re using process as a differentiator in their industries.  And they’re passionate about “Smarter Process” and BPM.  All three companies are primarily references because of IBM BPM and Lombardi.  IBM is getting a lot of mileage out of the Lombardi customer base.

But there’s one more element…

Thought Leadership in the Ecosystem

Fourth, as It turns out, IBM also acquired the thought leadership of Lombardi’s customers, and partners – including BP3.  The very best IBM BPM partners were Lombardi partners before the acquisition.  And the very best of those BPM partners is BP3 (note: this author may be understandably biased on that point!).  We help create happy, reference-able customers who think deeply about how process affects their organizations.  The most mature BPM customers reach out to BP3 for our product and process expertise.  BP3 is turning out some of the most interesting innovations around IBM BPM.

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BP3 Connect @ Tao Venetian

At BP3 we believe in giving back to the community and building the ecosystem.  Just one way we showed our appreciation was by hosting BP3 Connect this year (in a private room at Tao) for our BPM customers.  It is the first time we’ve held an event like this at Impact and it was fantastic.  It was an opportunity for our customer to network, to meet with our team, and to meet a few influential IBM executives as well – Phil Gilbert and David McDonald among them.  We also welcomed Sandy Kemsley and Neil Ward-Dutton, independent analysts and influential in our thinking in BPM.  I enjoyed getting their perspective on Impact, BPM, customers, and presentations.  My only regret is that I got double booked during their panel on Monday!

But perhaps most importantly, it was a quiet, calm place to escape to for a couple of hours – and talk to colleagues pursuing smarter processes at other firms.  Our own people were just excited and energized by the conversations – it wasn’t a sales event.  We had customers sharing war stories and funny stories (at least one of which was at my expense!).  Lots of riffing on IBM offerings and how they interlock with BPM and what the opportunities are.  We had several different industries represented, with strong representation from banks and insurance firms of various types.  I had great conversations with a few customers whom I hadn’t met in person before Tuesday night, and I also had the pleasure of being introduced to some of our most important IBM BPM executives.  Really proud of our team and our customers, and our partnership with IBM.  But perhaps nothing beats having two different customers make a point to tell me, in so many words “You’ve done everything we asked you to do.  And more.”

It is hard for me to express how much that statement means to me.  It sums up everything BP3 stands for and what we’re about.  These interpersonal relationships mean so much to me, and to our team.  Because we care deeply about what we’re doing here.

Tao were gracious hosts with amazing appetizers.  Thank you to everyone who attended our little oasis on Tuesday night – I hope we can do it again next year!