Neil Ward-Dutton: Schrödinger's BPM #bpmNEXT

  • April 8, 2015
  • Scott

Neil Ward-Dutton captured the cognitive dissonance in BPM perfectly, with his talk entitled “Shrödinger’s BPM” -is BPM dead or alive?


This question has been asked so many times, and answered, but I like Neil’s take on it.  He presents the evidence of its death, but the counter-factual of the success of vendors in the space, as well as the increased volume of inquiries and interest from non-traditional sectors of the economy.  If the market is only growing in high single digits to low double-digits, is BPM dying?  If there are vendors within the space growing 15%, 30%, or 60%, is BPM dying?  Maybe not.

Neil’s thesis for this is that we’re making the transition from Early Majority adoption in BPM to the Late Majority adoption in BPM.  And he makes a good case. He’s even included the slides on SlideShare:

One consequence of this shift to the late majority is that these firms are more likely to discriminate on the quality of delivery and experience.  They’re less likely to be patient with the potholes of implementation.

His talk got coverage on Sandy Kemsley’s blog as well:

The lines are blurring between different product classes: BPMS, BPA, low-code, operational intelligence, task management, project management, enterprise social collaboration, and cloud orchestration. Customers are picking products from different categories to solve the same problems, and products are spanning multiple categories. It’s not so easy any more to put boundaries around what any particular product can do.

And to Neil’s point, BPM vendors are looking for different ways to get their message out, and realizing that the term BPM may come with too much pre-loaded meaning for what they’re targeting in the market.  Meanwhile, an honest analysis of the market includes many products that don’t see themselves as BPM, and don’t intend to play in the “BPM” space per se.

Much like Clay’s earlier presentation, Neil’s advice was to continue to focus on customer experience and new ways of creating value, and not to get too caught up in the traditional competitors rather than the competition on the edges or in new adjacent spaces.

A talk like Neil’s always causes me to reflect on how I would apply the ideas to BP3, or whether our observations support or conflict with his findings.  Our own experience has been that over time, our differentiation from competition has become easier to show, explain, and demonstrate.  Our customers and prospects have, over time, come to appreciate our approach and differentiation.  Maybe it isn’t the easier or faster path, but it is a path that works over time.  So his talk resonated with me.  I see a lot of opportunity for BP3 in this world.


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  • Thanks very much for the writeup Scott! For those interested in addressing gnarly issues with rich BPM technology platforms, I think BP3 and others have a lot of value to add; and I like how you’re creating product-like assets that help simplify clients’ experience of the technology. This seems smart to me.

    • Well, I always like taking advice I think I’m already following 😉
      To me, this is all about improving our own (BP3’s) processes- we leverage technology, sometimes BPMS, sometimes other tools – to make our own delivery process smarter/better/faster.

  • iangotts

    I loved the quote “If BPM is dead, it seems to be making a lot of (marketing) noise”. Plus finally meeting you in person.

    • i loved that one too 🙂 for something that’s dead, a lot of us are making money doing it 😉