Sandy Kemsley Covers IBM's Case Manager product

  • October 27, 2010
  • Scott

Sandy Kemsley covers IBM’s Case Manager product:

The end-user experience for Case Manager is in the IBM Mashup Center, a mashup/widget environment that allows the inclusion of both IBM’s widgets and any other that support the iWidget standard and expose their properties via REST APIs. IBM has had the FileNet ECM widgets available for a while to provide some standard ECM and BPM capabilities; the new version provides much more functionality to include more of the case context including metadata and tasks. A standard case widget provides access to the summary, documents, activities and history views of the case, and can link to a case data widget, a document viewer widget for any given document related to the case, and e-forms for creating more complex user interfaces for presenting and entering data as part of the case.

She also has coverage from another session at IOD on empowering the business analyst:

The focus in this session is on the tools for the business analyst in the design-time environment, either based on a template or from scratch, including the user interface creation in the Mashup Center environment, analytics for both real-time and historical views of cases, and business rules.

Sandy notes that the BPF (Business Process Framework) functionality is migrating into the ACM offering, and while it may not be the same code (unclear), they’re picking up key functional points from BPF.  Interestingly, the ACM offering is separate from the ECM offering.

Finally, Sandy offers a write-up of her preview of the Case Management offering that was officially announced today:

he big announcement, at least to me, was the new Case Manager product, to ship in Q4 (probably November, although IBM won’t commit to that). IBM has been talking about an advanced case management strategy for several months now, and priming the pump about what “should” be in a case management product, but this is the first that we’ve seen a real product as part of that strategy; I’m sure that the other ACM vendors with products already released are ROFL over IBM’s statement in the press release that this is the “industry’s first advanced case management product”.

For some reason, everyone wants to be “first”.  There’s a great children’s book called “Me First” that I think illustrates why we shouldn’t all strive to be first all the time.  It sounds like IBM is addressing core use cases in ACM: a big focus on unstructured work, user-defined activities on the path to the goals.  There are also reusable templates, and vertical templates, already defined or partly defined to help speed go-to-market.  As Sandy points out, it still feels like too many products for the same space:

I still find the IBM ECM portfolio – much like their BPM and other portfolios – to contain too many products: clearly, some of these should be consolidated, although IBM’s strategy seems to be to never sunset a product if they have a couple of others that do almost the same thing and there’s a chance that they can sell you all of them.

I think there’s also an element of, not wanting to give up maintenance revenue streams on these existing product lines or force customers to re-evaluate their strategy and potentially, at that point, pick a different vendor.  After all, once a customer is in “evaluation” mode, all kinds of possibilities come up.  Probably “safer” for IBM to try to keep everyone at least somewhat happy.   In a previous life I worked for a software company that killed a new product because it jeopardized the maintenance revenue of the legacy product, despite the fact that we could reduce the code base we needed to maintain by a factor of 1000, and support builds on many platforms rather than just 3-4.   The concern was that maintenance revenue was in danger – of course, my take would be just label it version N+1 of the same product, and provide compatibility layer APIs and… voila!  Problem solved. But my point is just that the decisions don’t always seem logical to those of us with a technical background.

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