"It Just Confirms I'm as Smart as I Thought I Was"

  • August 26, 2010
  • Scott
  • 4 Comments

So the new Forrester Wave is out.  What’s that? you hadn’t heard?  If not, you haven’t talked to anyone in the analyst or BPM vendor community in the last 24 hours!

As usual, there are a raft-load of vendors declaring victory:

Appian: “Appian Still Leading the Pack

Pega:  “Pegasystems ranked #1 as one of two BPM vendors that ‘lead the pack with the best overall combination of modeling, design and development features for business and technical roles driving process improvement’ ”  (bonus, their article includes the image of the Wave graphic itself)

Metastorm: “Metastorm Recognized as a Leader in Business Process Management Suites Report…

IBM has several congratulatory tweets about being in the leader quadrant, but I haven’t seen a press release yet.

Judging by the wave, I should be able to add links to Progress and Software AG press releases or blog posts by this time tomorrow.

Every one of these vendors will crow that the analysts have confirmed that they’re as smart as they thought they were – that they’re leaders (or even, “number 1”).

So, I’ll let you in on a little secret.  The Wave won’t tell you which BPMS makes the most sense for you.  Some of these offerings are actually so different that they rarely, if ever, compete for the same customer projects, and often corporations own more than one product because they aren’t viewed as doing the same thing.  For example, Appian’s strength in SaaS means that will compete more often for SaaS deployments – the decision “to SaaS or not to SaaS” was probably made before any vendors were called.   Metastorm’s strength in EA may play well with customers who are doing a lot of modeling, but for projects that are more focused on implementation, or who already own other EA tools, that offering won’t be as compelling as something more targeted at executing processes.  Even Pega (apparently depicted as #1 on the Wave), isn’t as often in competition for general-purpose BPM platform purchases – they tend to be in the finals for more vertical processes, where their investment in specific templates or verticals or applications can really pay off.  A friend once described Pega as more a company that sells rules- and BPM- enabled applications, rather than BPM itself (it wasn’t a criticism, my friend thought it was good strategy for the company).

Of course the meat of these things is in the written words inside the report, but it is hard to get there when there is that tasty graphic that everyone can look at.  I wonder what would happen if Forrester withheld the scoring and the graphic for a couple of weeks, and just revealed the more in-depth analysis.  Another interesting data point would be the number of times (that Forrester can determine) any two vendors were finalists in the same evaluation – which would allow for a 2×2 grid/heatmap that shows you who is competing with whom.  I was happy to see Forrester give up on separating BPM into various different flavors of BPM – that approach never really worked for me, personally.

So everyone is happy now.  But in the morning, we’ll humbly get back to work and get some processes built and deployed, and improve some processes.  Which is, after all, the whole point of BPM.

Update: as expected, a few announcements today:

Software AG announces their leadership status here.

And Progress’ blog entry can be found here.

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