The BPM Times Are a-Changing

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Just about every provider of enterprise software is talking up business process management (BPM) to one degree or another these days. The latest example this week is the release of an update to the Oracle Application Integration Architecture (AIA) Foundation Pack that provides higher levels of abstraction for managing business processes across a mix of enterprise applications.

Rolled out at Oracle's Collaborate event, this update adds support for the Oracle 11g series of middleware offerings in a way that make it easier to discern patterns in software. Developers can use these patterns to automate the development of application shells, then fill in business logic around them, said Tim Hall, senior director for product management for AIA.

But it's interesting how many upstart ERP software vendors, such as Epicor or Syspro, are hitching their wagon to BPM.

While being able to easily manipulate business processes within a highly integrated set of enterprise applications represents BPM nirvana, the cold reality of most existing enterprise applications, unfortunately, tends to get in the way of the dream.

Most IT organizations are struggling with a morass of packaged and homegrown applications. Replacing all those applications simply isn't feasible in many cases. So the only viable option is to add a layer of BPM functionality across all those applications, which is why we see Oracle, SAP, IBM, Tibco, Pegasytems and others all intently focused on BPM middleware lately.

Deciding which approach is right for your organization might come down to how many applications you have from a particular vendor. But we have entered a post-enterprise application era where BPM is rapidly redefining how we think about application software.

Like the song goes, the BPM times are a-changing. New levels of freedom and flexibility in the way we create and manage business processes are at hand. In the end, it might not be so important to figure out which path to take to that freedom as much as it is to make a commitment to get there using every means available.