Posted by: Adam Deane | 19/11/2010

IBM Blueworks Live

I was invited this week to take a sneak peek at the new IBM Blueworks Live.
IBM is the first of the BPM vendors to deal with ‘Social Networking’.
The new ‘IBM Blueworks Live’ embeds some very innovative ideas.

IBM Blueworks Live

Twitter for the Business
They’ve embedded Twitter into the main portal. Blimey! It’s a real twitter feed.
Anything related to BPM appears in the feed (they call it public streams)
For years we’ve tried force-feeding knowledge to end-users, without success.
So someone at IBM said “Let’s just put the food in front of them. When they are hungry they will start eating. Curiosity will get them to start clicking on the links, start reading up on BPM related subjects, start interacting with other BPM professionals.”
What a bloody good idea!!

Most vendors keep the users inside the vendor bubble. The only resources users are exposed to is the product documentation and online help. Nothing wrong with that, but community portals are usually small and product specific.

Online twitter streams embedded into the portal will entice users to stray out into the world, read blogs, see the latest industry trends, interact with the BPM community.
From the user’s perspective it’s pure gold. An abundance of information to choose from.

Look and Feel
They’ve given the task-list portal a new facelift.
It has a LinkedIn-Twitter-Facebook kind of look to it. They call it “private streams”.
It’s not an enormous change, but it shows that they are keeping up with the trends.
I’m a big believer in “Users desire the same level of usability and responsiveness from their business apps, as they get from their popular home apps”

IBM Blueworks Live

From Zero to Process in 90 Seconds
Ok, I was less impressed by the template feature.
Yes, the interface was slick and the wizard was easy to use, but templates are rarely used for real line-of-business organisational processes.
Most business processes, even the simple ones, require customisations. Templates might provide a starting point, and might save a bit of time, but rarely provide a tight fit to the customer’s needs. The devil is in the details.

Visibility
A by-product of using streams is visibility.
A list of ‘work items’ is great. A list of ‘My tasks’ is also great.
But adding them to a stream, that can be seen by all members of team, enables an additional visibility dimension. Team members can see what’s going on in their team. It keeps them in the loop.
It might scare users at the start, having others see what they are doing (or not doing…), but the added value of ‘being in the loop’ is so important when you’re working in a team.

The Last Mile
Ahhh… They didn’t show the one thing I was dying to see – Dynamic streams.
Think about a common scenario of getting 3 team members to approval a request.
It goes back and forth until they all agree. Yes, you can create a workflow for it, but it will be complex, with loops, exceptions and business rules. Delays between each email will make it a sluggish procedure.
An internal Twitter-like stream would enable quick back-and-forth chats until agreement. The added value of an internal-Twitter application would be that the chat is stored in the local database, enabling audit trails and reports. Quick, Slick, Smart.

IBM Blueworks has set the tone for BPM suites in the new social era.
I’m sure the other vendors will quickly join the race.
Let the fun begin…

Enjoy your weekend


Responses

  1. Adam, great commentary. Her are some of mine. Adding a Twitter feed to anything takes a skilled programmer an hour. So that doesn’t impress me.

    The GUI is simple, agreed, but one goes through an enormous amount of screens and pages for anything. Its not really meant for a skilled knowledge who would be truly annoyed by the overly simplistic interaction.

    The ‘private stream’ is like our – and others I assume – task inbox. It contains everything, work items, emails, chat entries. Doesn’t excite me either.

    I am in total agreement about the template feature. That is ok for the typical ‘vacation request’ processes uyes in demos, but no more. As you say the devil is in the detail. Plus once the author has published the process, the only change a contributor can make is to route it to someone else. Wow! Yes, they can call in another contributor but I don’t see how work gets assigned. Data, rules and content aren’t really easy to handle at all.

    Not sure I get your dynamic streams wish. I don’t see that dynamic stream chatting would solve the flowcharting loops, exception and rule problem. This is how we do it in ACM: If three people need to agree they are assigned a common task with the content and one accept button for each contributor. The task is complete with all three accepts only. A change to the content state resets the accept buttons. They can either collaborate by changing the content and add comments to it (which is I think the best way as the comments are in context) or yes, they can chat, send emails, voice mails or SMS and it will all be stored in the task. They can add more people to contribute and signoff at any time.

  2. […] (one more and Gartner can create a Quadrant for it…) So… How does tibbr compare with IBM Blueworks Live […]

  3. I like the look and feel of IBM Blueworks though. Was recently reviewing it for including on BPMgeek and found it pretty interesting. May be their lingo is a bit different from what we use in our normal BPM world but definitely looks like a promising product.

    You can checkout their Official Page on BPMGeek at http://bpmgeek.com/blueworks-live


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