There are really two kinds of processes when it comes to business: machine driven processes, such as order-to-cash, and daily human processes, such as customer service, that get wrapped around those machine-driven processes.
There are so many different applications wrapped various types of business processes these days that the cost of extending those processes, or even adding new ones, gets too expensive pretty quickly. That leads to the perception that IT, rather than the business, is inflexible when it's really a little bit of both.
Oracle, however, has launched Oracle BPM 11g, which wraps social-networking capabilities around a variety of business processes that all share a common engine alongside support for both BPEL and BPMN 2.0.
According to David Shaffer, vice president of product management for Oracle Fusion middleware solutions, the idea is to create a common platform for delivering both pre-packed business processes and applications alongside custom processes that are easy to build and extend. Once those processes are created, a common communications framework is then set up around those processes using social-networking software developed by Oracle.
The BPM industry has grown up in a fairly fragmented manner, resulting in IT organizations trying to stitch together ERP, workflow and custom applications to reflect business processes. That has not only been expensive, it also wraps the business in what amounts to "liquid concrete" that makes it difficult to respond to changing business conditions.
The good news is that vendors such as Oracle have finally figured out what part of the problem they represent and appear to be trying to finally do something about it.