One of the things that tends to confuse a lot of business people is the notion of business process management (BPM). They are generally aware of the fact that they have business processes that need to be managed better. But when it gets down to brass tacks, they want a more efficient way to manage transactions.
So all too often, a conversation about some holistic approach to managing the business better winds up giving way to a tactical conversation about how to improve specific transactions in a way the provides immediate return to the business.
One company that is honing in on improving the flow of business transactions, versus, say, business processes, is OpTier, a provider of business transaction management (BTM) software. According to Motti Tal, executive vice president of marketing and business development for Optier, trying to boil the entire business process ocean at once is too big an undertaking for most customers. Tal argues that customers need to focus on a few business transactions at a time, which will ultimately yield a better business process framework over time. To accomplish that, Tal says customers would be better off investing in BTM in order to derive a more immediate return on their investment.
Tal is getting at the idea that any IT-driven changes to the way the business operates need to come with almost immediate payback. That's obviously a challenge for any large-scale business process management system that is roughly equivalent to redeploying an entire suite of enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. It's not like there isn't a lot of room for improvement in ERP and BPM; it's just that most businesses are not in a position to make strategic, long-term investments.
Whether the notion of business transaction management as a distinct software discipline will stand the test of time remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure, anybody that promises to make an almost immediate impact on the business is going to be seen as a hero, versus being just another IT guy drawing more proverbial castles in the sky.