Sandy Kemsley on Smarter Process and #IBMIMPACT

Scott Francis
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Impact2014Sandy reliably produces the best conference notes.  At major analyst-driven events she takes a different approach:

At analyst events, I tend to not blog every presentation; rather, I listen, absorb and take some time to reflect on the themes.

With this in mind, her write up of the Impact conference was a good one.  Personally I like it when she turns her attention to the big picture and synthesizing several sessions rather than just capturing the one session out of context with the rest.

Smarter Process is positioned as an enabler of composable business, and is IBM’s approach for “reinventing business operations” by enabling the development of customer-centric applications that push top-line growth, while still providing the efficiency and optimization table stakes. Supporting knowledge workers has become a big part of this, which leads to IBM’s biggest new feature in BPM: the inclusion of “basic” case management within BPM. […] I’ve been talking about this range of work types for quite a while, and how we need products that can range across them, because I see so few real-world processes that fit into the purely structured or the purely unstructured ends of the spectrum: almost everything lies somewhere in the middle, where there is a mix of both.

That sums it up really well. Also, there’s this:

Are we finally seeing the beginning of the end of the split between process management in BPM and ICM? The answer to that is likely more political than technical – these products report up through different parts of IBM, turning the merging/refactoring of them into a turf war – and I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m guessing that we’ll gradually see more case capabilities in BPM and a more complete integration with ECM, such that the current ICM capabilities become redundant, and IBM BPM will expand to manage the full spectrum of work types.

I would say that the outcome is a foregone conclusion.  Those of my acquaintances who attended sessions with Filenet representatives who defended the current split state of the world for case management left the meeting thinking the Filenet guys were crazy.  IBMers who don’t admit that all processes for IBM belong on IBM BPM, and Case management does too, are going to strain their credibility with customers and partners, to say the least.  The BPM crowd are bending over backward to be nice and say all the right things, but let’s face it, there’s no way to thread these needles without falling off the balance beam.  Yes, I mixed those metaphors.

Filenet is for content. All kinds of content. Smarter Process is for processes.  All kinds of processes.  Not just non-content-centric processes.  The Filenet crowd aren’t doing IBM any favors by fighting this rearguard action any longer.

The new case management functions are embedded within the BPM environment […] Under the covers, the ad hoc activities execute in the BPM (not ICM) process engine, and a copy of ECM is embedded within BPM to support the case folder and documents artifacts.

My impression is that the case management functionality is pretty well thought out, and implemented. However, I prefer to hold judgment til we shake it out with production deployments.

Also, it was nice to get a mention from Sandy:

IBM also gave a shout out to BP3’s mobile portal product, Brazos, for developing iOS and Android apps for IBM BPM; depending on whether you want to go with responsive browser or native apps as a front-end for BPM, you’re covered.

I think that Brazos Portal flew under the radar for analysts at Impact, but it sure generated a lot of buzz at our booth and in hallway conversations with IBM and with customers.  Best of all: we’re giving it away to IBM BPM customers.  Perhaps we can persuade Sandy to give it another look when we release it to General Availability – we’ll see!

 

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