Thoughts on the Forrester Wave for BPM

  • December 30, 2015
  • Scott

Back in November the Forrester Wave came out.  You can find it in various interesting places if you’re willing to pay with your registration info! The high level picture doesn’t change much of the thinking in the market, currently, putting IBM, Pega, and Appian in the coveted Leaders wave. 

Certain details, as usual, are off on these things.  Market presence doesn’t have enough variance, for example, to show that IBM’s market share is 2x Pega’s, and probably 4x Appian’s.  And it doesn’t show what that market presence looks like globally versus in the US (Pega and IBM would show bigger compared to some of the other vendors, relatively speaking). 

Perhaps more interesting than looking at the Three Vendors that Matter, is looking at the Contenders wave… Tibco and Red Hat are down there.  Tibco, still struggling after major technology shifts in their BPM approach, were once the 800lb gorilla in BPM when they bought Staffware more than 10 years ago.  Red Hat, once the proud shepherd of jBPM seems to have lost its way entirely since that team vacated for other open source projects. 

If it were my chart, I likely would have downgraded OpenText to Contenders as well, as their buy-and-hope strategy hasn’t seemed to yield much in the way of market penetration. 

If I could suggest an interesting addition to these waves it would be to add a directional arrow from the previous – showing a velocity or rate of change if you will. And then asking the analyst firms to justify the change, not just the current value, but what has really changed to justify the change in position on the chart? If the product hasn’t gotten worse, what are the market conditions that lead to a change in the positioning? If it has gotten better but the position is worse, what is the context?



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  • Tom Debevoise

    There is a an old military saying that you do not hear the shot that takes you out. I believe that the old school eclipse-based designer, on-premise BPM is fading into the background, if not obscurity. I base this on my recent experience at Signavio. First, many of our large customers have these products, yet they have become customers for our Decision and Process Modelers because we offer a a true cloud based, SAAS, social-process modeling environment. In my estimation the quadrant leaders are stuck in the on-premise models with overly technical vision of process modeling- even if their process modeling tools are nominally web/social -based.

    Next, I am surprised at how many very-large (Global Fortune 100) customers use open-source BPM tools such as Activiti, Camunda and jBPM, Drools, even on mission critical systems. For many companies, these solutions can (and do) work as well as the quadrant leaders.

    The next generation of BPM is emerging and it will most likely be from companies other than the Gartner Quadrant Leaders. These companies are occupied maintaining their huge customer base and their old-school platforms and economics.

    • The shift to cloud is happening even among the traditionally on-prem vendors so it is likely happening overall even faster than you estimate from just the Signavio perspective.
      Admittedly, there’s cloud and then there’s multi-tenant cloud ,etc.

      I’m also surprised how many F100 customers have multiple commercial or BPM tools. Standardization is only somewhat enforced, it seems, and maybe that’s a good thing.

      Definitely feels like in this space, the analysts are behind the curve rather than in front of it. On the other hand, maybe that is just the sweet spot to operate in as an analysis, targeting early or late majority customers…

      • tomdebevoise

        Agree, but I think there is something more fundamental going on. There is a David and Goliath phenom where small groups of focused teams can take down the behemoth S/W companies by assembling products from a combination of resources available from open source, university and ad-hoc products. Just think about the numerous frame works (Angular, Bootstrap, etc. etc. ) that did not even exist when products like Lombardi, Appian, Pega were first created. Arguably, a single smart developer can create 5-10x the multiples of the developers 10-15 years ago.

        So even if all the MQ leaders go completely multi tenant SAAS, they must still support a huge on-prem customer base. They must continually refactor their old code base to depreciated libraries. They must migrate the process meta-data to the new features and functions, etc etc.etc Atop the technology shift, large corporations tend to accumulate large staffs of dead weight and there is the human tendency to cling to successes of the past.

        Big Companies that pay 20-30% maintenance on 50K/Core BPM/BRMS software are only too happy to give these guys a shot and many of them have. Then the young turks will become the targets of the upstarts in another 5-6 years :).

        The shift to DMN will be the straw that beaks the camel’s back.

        • Angular and Bootstrap are good examples. But also good examples of how an existing vendor can keep going (we use both on projects for IBM BPM for example, and IBM’s BPM products now use them as well).

          All of the issues are there, but also: those companies are making the investments. Question is whether they’ll be fast enough to protect their opportunities. This “fundamental” challenge has been going on for quite some time – it takes a long time to play out. I’m not sure DMN breaks the camel’s back – we use it, for example, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones. Your employer has done a great job with DMN btw 🙂