Forrester v Gartner and the Future of BPM

Long regarded as the software equivalent of the offside rule in football, BPM might just be starting to get interesting. At long last there appears to be some debate happening in the BPM world with a gap emerging between analyst firms Forrester and Gartner on how they see the future of BPM (and Case Management).

First of all Gartner applied the paddles to the BPM corpse earlier this year with the announcement of their iBPMs (intelligent Business Process Management suite). They state that a iBPMs suite has all the features of today’s BPMS complemented with more advanced technologies like advanced analytics, business intelligence, social media and mobile applications. iBPMS use cases will integrate more analytics, social and mobile capabilities into processes making them more intelligent.

Confusingly though Gartner describe iBPMs as a new usage scenario, stating that it should not be compared with their previous BPMS MQ, yet they go on to state; “Our research indicates that the IBO use case represents the future of BPM tools and is experiencing rapid adoption.”

If Gartner have revived BPM Forrester might just have lobotomized the patient, completely changing its personality and how we will view BPM moving forward.  In contrast to Gartner, Forrester have a leaner, packaged, application vision for BPM and have defined a new process category called Smart Process Applications (SPA). These are packaged process apps that encompass many of the characteristics we associate with case management business processes including collaboration and variability. SPA characteristics include ease of use with the ability to be modified rapidly in response to changing business and market conditions. Crucially they expect the cloud to be the primary delivery infrastructure for SPAs making them easier to deploy, support and continuously improve.

Forrester’s confidence in the SPA market is such that they have put their neck on the block stating that they expect Business Process Management suites to be renamed “smart process platforms”.

So what’s my view? Who’s right Gartner or Forrester?

The cloud and the app. internet, as is the case for many SW applications, is a game changer for BPM. In our personal lives we are used to obtaining SW on demand, with little or no configuration required. We will and increasingly are expecting the same of our business software.

Like the software equivalent of Mr. Creosote Gartner’s iBPMS vision sees BPM moving in a different direction, continuing to expand and devour every new or emerging business trend its path. But is a BPMS really the best place for advanced Business Intelligence, Analytics and Social media capability or is it better to integrate with best practice elsewhere?  By adding all of these capabilities are we not continuing to make BPM more complex? Gartner’s iBPMS is a useful BPMS capability reference but iBPMS fails to address many of the issues holding back the wider adoption of BPM suites.

Gartner View of BPM

             Gartner View of BPM

Business process on demand, whether we call it BPaaS or SPA is the future of BPM.  BPM suites will continue to play an important role but increasingly as a cloud based engine for the delivery of on demand pre-built process applications rather than as an on premise application.

BPM in the cloud and BPaaS/SPA transform the business case for BPM applications extending the target market to small and medium sized organizations.  Increasingly organizations will look to these pre-built, good enough, on demand process applications rather than deploy and design their own in house processes. As a result I think Forrester’s leaner SPA vision rather than Gartner’s bloated iBPMS view represents the real future of BPM.

Forrester View of BPM

                                                              Forrester View of BPM


7 thoughts on “Forrester v Gartner and the Future of BPM

  1. “By adding all of these capabilities are we not continuing to make BPM more complex?”

    A good point. For many organizations their BPM system is complicated enough (and sometimes just slapped together). Will more features make it better or worse?

  2. In my humble opinion this post does a dis-service to the discipline of BPM, the many organizations that are trying to climb the BPM maturity ladder by taking small steps and the thousands of BPM practitioners who are trying to help their organizations to achieve business objectives/succes though BPM. Since when did BPM become about what research companies think ? The sensationalistic nature of the post and accompanying images is quite honestly appalling.

    BPM has been and will be always driven from the grass roots up by practitioners and visionary business leaders and vendors who focus on collaborating with real end user organizations to solve real business problems. I have had enough of the so called BPM experts that change their tune based on what the flavor of the day is.

  3. Pingback: Is BPM now a Tactical Play? | The Computer Says How?

  4. It seams that Forrester’s approach is to define a new space called “collaborative processes”. This is about business processes that that have a lot of people interaction, such as running a marketing campaign or on-boarding a new employee. I believe Gartner is extending the traditional “transactional processes” BPM space with more features, such as analytics. Transactional processes, such as order to cash, are more structured with hard fast rules and tend to be more automated. I see both of their predictions on target.

      • Hi, I would recommend A lively quite opinionated forum. is ok as well. You can find out plenty about bpm without having to go through the analyst community. Hope you found my blog interesting.

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