BPM's March Toward the Data and Integration Stack

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Seven Deadly Sins of Business Process Management (BPM)

Organizations must be aware of the possible downfalls of implementing a BPM campaign with inadequate focus on end-user adoption.

Business process management has always been in a class by itself. As a technology, it's middleware - at least, according to research groups that classify such things. Gartner notes that its BPM tools represent 14 percent of the application development and application integration middleware markets in 2011. Since it's middleware, it can and is used for integration. For example, you can use BPM tools to automate sending data across systems or applications.


But BPM's days as a standalone technology seem to be coming to an end, a trend that's good news for organizations hoping to squeeze more from their efforts.


There have been rumors and some movement toward using BPM for things like governance and master data management for a while now. BPM expert and consultant Sandy Kemsley has long been an advocate of linking BPM with other data solutions, which would make data models easier across all these systems. It would simplify integration, Web services and analytics, she explained to me last year.


She's pointed this out to vendors, too, and they seem to be catching on.


"They're getting that people don't want to have master data management in one place and all these different data models in your other systems and why is a BPM system any different?" Kemsley said. "The whole idea is that if you can bring in the data model that is already being defined from somewhere else and use at least a part of that as your process instance data, then, when you start to do things like integrating across these systems, it's going to be much, much easier."


At the time, she saw TIBCO moving in that direction. BPM provider Appian and SAP were starting to connect the dots, too, according to Neil Ward-Dutton, research director, MWD Advisors.


But for the most part, there are integration solutions and there are BPM solutions, and they really don't fraternize. That seems to be changing slowly but surely, with players from both camps adding capabilities to bring these technologies closer together.


Last week, Talend joined the ranks of those bridging the gap between business process management and master data management. Talend is an open source company that's established a name as an enterprise solution in the MDM and data integration space.


Talend's approach is to integrate BonitaSoft's BPM solution with its Talend Unified Platform, Version 5.0. BonitaSoft has been an OEM partner with Talend for 18 months, according to Talend's VP of marketing, Yves de Montcheuil.


"We think BPM is the next logical step for us," de Montcheuil said in a recent interview. "We're already a comprehensive platform with data integration and application integration, but there are a number of very interesting use cases where BPM is also a very important part of the integration process."


Forrester analyst Ken Vollmer said there are several vendors that integrate tools across two of the three integration silos - data integration, application integration or business processes management. SoftwareAG, TIBCO, Oracle, SAP, IBM and Informatica are all other examples of companies that have made two of the three interoperable, he added.


Vollmer contends IT and vendors need to push toward holistic integration, which would mean unifying integration practices across all three of these largely siloed disciplines and technologies. When we spoke in November, he cited Adeptia as the one vendor that's effectively addressed all three in a tightly integrated product.


Maybe as the vendors provide more integration across these disciplines, it will make it easier for companies to do so. A recent article in Enterprise Features points out that, thus far, BPM initiatives have largely been led only by business management, with little involvement from IT. And that's a problem, the article contends:

To make the most of the BPM model, it must be connected to all critical activities, including technology. Integrating information technology (IT) with BPM is essential to fully leverage the competitive advantages resulting from this model

Most organizations would agree that is a trend toward the right direction.