Effektif: Spelling it is Harder than Using it

Scott Francis
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Not too long ago, Tom Baeyens gave demonstrations of Effektif to myself and several other bloggers and analysts.  Sandy Kemsley and Neil Ward-Dutton did such a good job covering the release that I didn’t jump on the bandwagon right away.

Sandy covers familiar ground (Tom and I had a similar discussion) regarding inspirations for Effektif:

We talked about his design inspirations: IFTTT and zapier, which handle data mappings transparently and perform the simplest form of integration workflow; Box and Dropbox, which provide easy content sharing; Trello and Asana, which enable micro-collaboration around individual tasks; and Wufoo, which allows anyone to build online forms. As IFTT has demonstrated, smaller-grained services and APIs are available from a number of cloud services to more easily enable integration. If you bring together ideas about workflow, ad hoc tasks, collaboration, content, forms and integration, you have the core of a BPMS; if you’re inspired by innovative startups that specialize in each of those, you have the foundation for a new generation of cloud BPM. All of this with a relatively small seed investment by Signavio and a very lean development team.

Sandy goes on to provide a good walk-through of how you define and run processes.  Interestingly, I think Effektif pretty well lays to rest the idea that ACM is different from BPM.  For, while it is clearly “BPM”… it is also clearly “ACM”.  BPMN isn’t required to represent a process, but it isn’t excluded either.

I’m not sure if any single offering demonstrates this convergence better, and publicly at that, than Effektif.

We also talked about pricing approaches, and while I won’t steal his thunder, it seemed to me that Tom had a good angle on when to switch over from free to paid, without that cheapening or nickel-and-diming the customer experience.

Neil Ward-Dutton’s coverage takes a different angle:

In advance of that, though – is Effektif just another BPM technology in an already crowded marketplace? Let’s face it; many pundits believe the BPM technology marketplace is already pretty mature and has maybe even stagnated. Is there a real opportunity for Effektif?

Neil’s answer is “yes” – the market is crowded, but that there is also a real opportunity for Effektif.  He then outlines four reasons why:

  • Comparisons to Asana, IFTTT, Zapier and others.
  • Tom Baeyens as a BPM guru to be reckoned with
  • Clear design goals around the 5 minute experience
  • Signavio as a backing investor, with customers to tap into

Alexander Samarin wrote a quick review of Effektif as well, and points out some of the interesting features from process fragments to project management.

I think the most difficult point for Effektif, and the tools it is inspired by, is adoption by mainstream businesses.  Not because it is too hard, per se.  But even for tools like Zapier, when you get out of startup mode and into enterprise mode (even as a single user within the enterprise) there are rules for what kind of data can be transported from one cloud environment to another.  I may not be allowed to use my personal Salesforce credentials to expedite transiting data from Salesforce to some other cloud-based tooling.  Enterprise IT gets involve,d HIPAA comes into play.

So how to bridge the gap between the startup or personal users, and the enterprise user?  Traditionally, this is where consulting partners come in.  And the biggest challenge I see to the business models of such firms is the lack of a business model that supports implementation partners.  Implementation partners can help create successful references, build out a pipeline of new customers, and innovate on top of the platform.  But there has to be a path to making a living, or those implementation partners won’t show up.

So, if the business model doesn’t throw off enough cash for partners to make a living, these firms will have to invent growth and sustaining business models that don’t require such servicing, support, and evangelism.

Whatever happens, Effektif is another example of innovation, alive and well, in the BPM sphere.  There will be naysayers, and proponents, but ultimately it will be up to Tom and company to find the MVP that sells customers on the concept.

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  • Tom Baeyens

    Hi Scott,

    You brought up some interesting points that I couldn’t resist to comment on

    http://processdevelopments.blogspot.be/2014/02/cloud-governance-and-partner-ecosystem.html

    — Tom

    • It’s a good response :) Thanks Tom!

    • Interesting points in Tom’s response on his blog linked above:
      “Companies have switched on-premise software solutions for cloud based SaaS alternatives. This trend continues and accelerates. Some conservative CIOs will try to ignore or even forbid this from happening, but eventually it’s unavoidable. In the next decade, companies will use a mix of on-premise and cloud solutions. My advice to CIOs is to embrace that fact, get involved and learn how to control that mix. ”

      In this US, this isn’t an issue of CIOs or IT folks not wanting to use the cloud – not anymore. It is quite literally an issue of regulations and laws, and proving you have control over the data. The move to the cloud will continue to happen, but it isn’t “accelerating” in my opinion – we’re already past the inflection point where we are now addressing the harder part of the adoption curve. The easy adopters are all the smaller companies and startups like BP3 and Signavio and Effektif. The harder pull are banks and governments, health insurance and healthcare providers. Security agencies, etc. That transition will be slower and longer, and maybe it should be – cautious rather than racing to the finish line.

      Some organizations are conservative for a reason…

      Tom points out some advantages of being “cloud native” that aren’t automatic for being in the cloud, but once implemented, become automatic for a given product in the cloud (e.g. oauth, etc) so “for free” you might actually have a more secure app in the cloud than you do in your homegrown environment.

      Further, the “non-cloud-native” BPM applications are being deployed in the cloud. In other words, the cloud infrastructure is so good, that it is easier for us to deploy an IBM BPM or other BPM product in the cloud than it is to install it on your laptop. Or your server. Or your mainframe.

      So the benefits of “cloud” will largely accrue to all the potential BPM vendors, if they or their partners are able to create the right environments, cost structure, and payment terms (not to mention security and infrastructure for scaling). We’ve been deploying BPM in the cloud since 2011, and it is hard to believe it is already 3 years now. And yet we still see a lot of on-premise deployments or “private cloud” deployments.

      Tom makes a fantastic point that a lot of the usage of tools like Effektif (and Zapier and etc.) will be net-new-usage- competing against non-usage. At the same time the example: “For example: for all emails that arrive at procurement@example.com, extract the attachment and upload it to /Accounting/Invoices/Incoming on Google Drive. That’s convenient and easy. ” proves my point. This would be effectively illegal if those emails were containing HIPAA protected files, in the US. There are limits to the “ease of use” that require help from consultants or IT, no matter how easy the core service is. Tom’s not denying that, he’s just pointing out the space for ease of use is quite large (and he’s right about that, as IFTTT and Zapier prove).

      As far as consulting ecosystem, Tom does a good job discussing the need to extend / stretch a solution. The counterpoint I’d make is just that the issue isn’t the technical need – the issue is business model. For example, Excel has all kinds of expert customization you can do. But there isn’t a great model for building custom functions for Excel. And it is one of the most widely used business tools ever. The challenge will be, how does a partner ecosystem get paid when it customizes tools like Effektif or provides a “custom action”.

      I’m not saying these challenges are insurmountable! Far from it. However, I think this is where previous cloud-only BPM companies have, essentially, failed – perhaps because they didn’t even perceive the problem to be a problem (the marketing messaging is usually that the tool is cheap, and you don’t need any consulting help to begin with). All of the above is why I think this is a challenge. But you know, that’s why startups are an interesting sport, and an interesting spectator sport too!

  • We’re exploding ourselves at https://tallyfy.com and proud to be leading this sector at present. Simple (but powerful) process management is going to eliminate flowcharts and re-define this space.