IBM Blueworks Live: An In-Depth Review

  • September 25, 2011
  • Scott

If you’re interested in reading a near-treatise on first impressions of IBM’s Blueworks Live, Joe Pluta has provided it on IBM Systems Magazine:

The Lombardi Blueprint tool has a different focus: it concentrates on the capability to allow members of a business community to collaboratively define business processes (see Figure 2). So where Teamworks is Rational or PDM, Blueworks is the step before that which really has no parallel in the midrange community. Well, there is a parallel; typically it’s a whiteboard. Whiteboards are huge in the midrange development world; people get together in a big conference room and start spitballing. Someone writes the group’s thoughts on the whiteboard, things get drawn, redrawn, added, removed, and hopefully a consensus emerges. Then it was usually up to someone to transcribe the whiteboard for the group. That part often didn’t get done, and instead you saw “DO NOT ERASE!” in big red letters on the board. And occasionally someone forgot that and important information got overwritten. In fact, I remember one of the biggest technological innovations we had back in the 1980s was a super-nifty printing whiteboard! It was a freestanding whiteboard on wheels with a soft plastic surface that you wrote on, and you could hit a button and the writing surface would rotate past a scanner and print on thermal paper. Whoo hoo! No notes!

If you saw a few tweets referencing “DO NOT ERASE!” – they’re referencing the paragraph above.  And I think Joe has it right – Blueworks Live has a really interesting value proposition to the mid-range company.  But unlike Joe, I always hated those whiteboards that printed- the printing never worked as well as advertised, typically wasn’t in color, and the machines didn’t work as well for just plain old whiteboarding. These days if I use a whiteboard for something important, I can just take a picture and add it to Evernote.  I’d have rather those whiteboard machines just email me a PDF file!

Finally, he picks on the pricing as being too expensive outside of a corporate context.  As he notes:

For individual users, $600 a year is a hefty price; without a truly usable free version I don’t see Blueworks being a go-to product for the casual user. On the other hand, the license fee is not terribly onerous for corporations

I think the addition of less-expensive licensing for contributors (versus process authors) has helped with the pricing issues (I believe the community members are $10/month instead of $50).  But I agree a lower price point would push more adoption – and there really are network effects at play here.


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