Sandy Kemsley: Best Coverage of #IOD11 Conference

  • October 26, 2011
  • Scott

Well, if Sandy doesn’t have the best coverage of the conference, it is by far the best coverage of the bloggers I follow.

First up:  IBM Case Manager, IBM Content Manager, and IBM BPM


  • Extend IBM BPM processes with content, using document and list widgets that can be integrated in a BPM application. This does not include content event processes, e.g., spawning a specific process when a document event such as check-in occurs, so is no different than integrating FileNet content into any BPMS.
  • Extend IBM BPM Advanced (i.e., WPS) processes with content through a WebSphere CMIS adapter into the content repository. Ditto re: any BPMS (or other system) that supports CMIS being able to integrate with FileNet content.
  • Invoke an IBM BPM Advanced process from an ICM case task. Assuming that this is via a web service call (since WPS allows processes to be exposed as web services), not specifically an IBM-to-IBM integration.

Next, up, transformation in the era of Big Data, perhaps a business case for “Watson”?

Some of IBM’s future of big data analytics is Watson, and Manoj Saxena presented on how Watson is being applied to healthcare – being demonstrated at IOD – as well as future applications in financial services and other industries. In healthcare, consider that medical information is doubling every five years, and about 20% of diagnoses in the US have some sort of preventable error. Using Watson as a diagnostic tool puts all healthcare information into the mix, not just what your doctor has learned (and remembers). Watson understands human speech, including puns, metaphors and other colloquial speech; it generates hypotheses based on the information that it absorbs; then it understands and learns from how the system is used. A medical diagnosis, then, can include information about symptoms and diseases, patient healthcare and treatment history, family healthcare history, and even patient lifestyle and travel choices to detect those nasty tropical bugs that your North American doctor is unlikely to know about. Watson’s not going to replace your doctor, but provide decision support during diagnosis and treatment.

And third, what’s new in IBM ECM products :

There was a question about why BPM didn’t appear in the ECM portfolio diagram, and Clayton stated that “BPM is now considered part of Case Manager”. Unlike the BPM vendors who think of ACM as a part of BPM, I think that she’s right: BPM (that is, structured process management that you would do with IBM FileNet BPM) is a functionality within ACM, not the other way around.

I think the BPM referenced here is with respect to Filenet BPM, rather than “IBM BPM”, but this is one area where Sandy and I probably agree to disagree.  I think the race between BPM and ACM was essentially over before it started.  Managing a business is going to more likely be called “BPM” than “ACM” for one thing.  I think BPM is going to win the war of acronyms.  The go-to-market strategy is going to include “ACM” functionality in a BPM offering.  This isn’t some inside-scoop at IBM, this is just my judgment on the market in general.  I may be wrong, but the market will show that one way or the other in the next few years.  So far, to me, it looks like the BPM firms are winning the argument.

(Which isn’t to say that ACM proponents haven’t influenced BPM product direction – they have.  But my feeling all along is that it just wouldn’t be hard for BPM vendors to fast-follow ACM vendors, such as they are).

Finally, Sandy covered the IBM Filenet BPM updates:

The Process Engine (PE) was ported completely to a standard Java application, with some dramatic performance increases: 60% improvement in response time through the Java API, 70% (or more) reduction in CPU utilization, near-linear growth in CPU utilization for vertical scaling (i.e., more processes on a single server), and constant CPU utilization on horizontal scaling (e.g., twice as many processes on twice as many servers).

So… one danger I see for IBM in general in the BPM space – is focusing too much on speeds and feeds.  Not that these aren’t important. They are.  Especially when you have customers the size of IBM’s customers.  But they also need to solve real business problems and value propositions that aren’t driven by IT metrics.

It reminds me of a conversation we had with a customer once.

US:  So, what reports do you think we need to support the business’ needs? There aren’t really any business-facing reports defined yet.

THEM:  I think we have all the reports we need already.

US:  You do?  Which reports do you already have that the business uses?

THEM:  Well, the timing reports on webservice performance and user interface performance, for example.

US:  hmmmmmmm.  How about measuring vendor quality, vendor response time to RFPs, and pricing estimation to final-price accuracy?  Might tell you who your best vendors are or how much it is costing you to work with a vendor that isn’t fulfilling your business on time.

THEM:  Yeah, but the business isn’t asking for that.  They really want to know how fast the webservices and UIs are running.

Needless to say, we weren’t talking to the right person, and speeds and feeds were just not the right focus.  Faced with that situation, you just have to back up and regroup and find the right focal point closer to a real business problem.

Thanks for the great coverage Sandy –


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