I caught up with the Fujitsu Interstage business process management (BPM) marketing folks during the week of Nov. 9, timed to the release of Interstage BPM Version 11. I saw a good mix of feature/functionality and platform/program aspects in Fujitsu's announcement.
As way of background, Fujitsu has quietly but effectively provided BPM capabilities for more than a decade based on the Interstage-brand middleware platform that dates back even further. The BPM deliverable was once based on products called TeamWARE and later iFlow, but the package is now all branded as Interstage. As recently as 2006, I estimated that Fujitsu was second only to IBM in terms of market share of the worldwide BPM market as measured by revenue. However, as much as 90 percent of that revenue was based in Japan. (I have not done a BPM market share study in the last three years, but I am confident that Fujitsu is still a major factor by that measurement.) That means that, based on both its history and its size, Fujitsu should also be a factor on BPM short lists around the world as it tries to expand its presence outside Asia.
In particular, among a list of features in the new release -- including a new dashboard for better performance view, the ability to provide performance-based tasking recommendations and recommendations on alert and notification thresholds based on past performance data, workload predictors, dynamic tasking, tasks delivered on the go, goal-oriented project management capabilities, process pattern discovery within analytics, process collaboration and knowledge-sharing capabilities, and advanced multi-tenancy features -- it is the dynamic tasking and multi-tenancy that I found most interesting.
I am a big believer in making BPM software a more collaborative tool where power users and line managers in the enterprise can make changes without having to go back to IT and/or business analysts.Interstage BPM 11's automated process discovery helps in this regard, but the discovery feature is actually a capability Fujitsu has taken from a previously available service. It is the dynamic task-creation capability - where the discovery engine kicks in and keeps track of how processes get executed - that has the best potential to keep IT out of the nitty gritty of day-to-day operational changes in the enteprise. With this concept, business analysts circle around later on some periodic basis timed to enterprise needs and clean up any inconsistencies or ineffeicenies through the XML Process Definition Markup Language (XPDML).
As for the multi-tenancy feature, that has a couple of implications. As you may know if you read my posts on BPM (See "Cloud Computing Blogosphere Takes Enterprise Software out of Context"), I was a skeptic about cloud computing as not being much different than service bureaus, software-as-a-service (SaaS), application service provision and a few other buzzwords used over the years - some of which I helped invent. Fujitsu and others helped convince me that at least when it comes to BPM, the cloud can make a difference. The key is that the BPM software or service should be architected in such a way as to take advantage of the cloud. That's where multitenancy comes in.
Advanced multi-tenant capabilities make shared services organizations and centers of excellence more cost-effective and efficient.
That's PR speak for the fact that Fujitus Interstage BPM 11 can theoretically run on premise, in a private cloud or a public cloud and still have the process flow all meld together nicely. And in the try-it,-you'll-like-it spirit, Fujitsu will let you try the whole Interstage BPM 11 suite in its cloud with all these features free for up to 10 users. Other cloud-oriented programs -- Fujitsu's or yours -- with various aspects of "free" in them are available for SaaS providers, business process outsourcers and OEMs/ISVs (which Fujitsu calls domain experts).
Take a look.