In mid-December I caught up with Rourke McNamara, TIBCO product marketing director, to discuss iProcess Spotfire functionality recently announced by the middleware company. TIBCO, as I mentioned in a recent blog post about IBM acquiring Lombardi's business process management (BPM) software, is one of the few remaining companies that offers an "independent middleware stack." I should have mentioned that Software Ag and Progress are other examples.
TIBCO's heritage is interesting because it was providing an enterprise service bus (ESB) messaging product long before anyone used that term. For a period during the 1990s, TIBCO was majority owned by Reuters, and that seemed to stifle innovation. For sure it stifled TIBCO sales opportunities, because only Reuters salespeople could sell TIBCO into financial services industries, one of the major demand points for messaging technology during that period. Reuters spun TIBCO out in late 1999 and via acquisition and internal development, TIBCO began to fill out its stack. Among other acquisitions was the Staffware BPM software - now called iProcess - in 2004, and Spotfire business intelligence (BI) software in 2007.
Of course, it is important to get such acquisitions working together better than as if they were separate companies, and that's what the recent announcement covered. With iProcess Spotfire, business users can create personalized process reports in real time, and analyze and modify processes in the context of what the process sets do. That lets those of you in a TIBCO shop off the hook, if Rourke is correct. iProcess Spotfire lets IT's clients on the line slice and dice, and provides operational analytics.
But to be clear, this is information about the processes (e.g., cycle times based on time and day, metrics for process improvement, data about how the BPM tool is doing; relationships among processes, and so forth). It's not about the business itself (other TIBCO software can help there). Both line managers and power users might find this functionality helpful.
The announcement is another piece in the puzzle I have called intelligent process automation, or what you might think of intelligent BPM. TIBCO iProcess also offers the capability to combine BI about the business itself with BPM-controlled process set to kick off other process sets. As that combination of BI and BPM matures both at TIBCO and in other suppliers' BPM suites, BPM becomes more and more valuable to the enterprise. There is a lot of talk about whether BPM is designed for human-to-human process flows or system-to-system process flows. The answer is both. That is why you need intelligent process automation-and why you want as little human intervention in process flow as possible. iProcess Spotfire is another step toward that nirvana.
Overall, iProcess is at rev 11, which was rolled out 12 months ago.