Posted by: Adam Deane | 05/01/2012

BPM: The Trends to watch in 2012

The 2012 BPM Trends are very similar to last year’s trends, with an emphasis on two areas: Social and Mobile. BPM is keeping up with new technologies, trying to find ways to enhance user adoption, but we are still not a midstream discipline.
We have still not reached “the BPM promised land”, but we are slowly getting there…

There are three main influences on trends in the BPM market

Trend Influences

Vendor Acquisitions
The acquisition of BPM vendors changes the marketing messages sent out.
Acquisitions by large middleware vendors bring middleware benefits to the forefront.
Acquisitions by document management vendors bring document management benefits to the forefront, and so on…
Apart from the changed value message of BPM – the solutions themselves actually change. The ‘workflow platform’ changes to a ‘workflow and document platform’, that changes to a ‘workflow and document and integration platform’, and so on.
Each acquisition changes the BPM messaging, adds another element to the BPM life cycle, adjusts the “right way” to do BPM…
Nothing wrong with that. Just part of the BPM evolution.

Analyst Background and Interests
The industry analyst’s voice has an enormous impact on trending.
Behind companies like Gartner, Forrester and others there are individuals – people with their own unique background and interests: Collaboration, Enterprise Architecture, and lately even one with a CEP background.
Each analyst changes the BPM messaging, adds another element to the BPM life cycle, adjusts the “right way” to do BPM.
Nothing wrong with that. Just part of the BPM evolution.

Marketing and Hype
Each of the vendors tries and find a competitive advantage.
It could be a technology, solution, or just hype. In any case they need to market this advantage. The more times it’s said and the more people that say it – the louder the message.
It’s human nature to believe that the next trend will change the whole world upside-down, and if you don’t join now – you’ll miss a great opportunity you’ll regret later on.
As soon as a new concept comes out (or a newly wrapped old concept) there is suddenly a great interest in it. Will this be the new messiah…
If the hype is good enough and enough people buy into it – it becomes a trend.
Each vendor changes the BPM messaging, adds another element to the BPM life cycle, adjusts the “right way” to do BPM.
Nothing wrong with that. Just part of the BPM evolution.

BPM Trends to Watch

Process Mining
Process mining has been around for some time, but lately been highlighted.
It still lacks the marketing buzz that other trends have (case studies showing where it has saved lots of money, or been sold for lots of money…). That said, if it does manage to show practical and financial benefits, it will be probably be the most interesting trend to follow this year.

CEP – Complex Event Processing
CEP is currently embraced only by a couple of BPM vendors.
The other vendors still do not see the added value of CEP. Unlike other areas (like ECM and ACM) that BPM has moved into, CEP is still an undiscovered territory.
CEP will probably start to grow in the next couple of years when the concept is clarified, the value is proven and the vendors feel it will give them a competitive edge.

Social BPM
Users desire same level of in innovation and functionality from their business applications as they get from their home applications.
It won’t take organisations long to cotton on to the potential: Twitter-like applications, collaboration applications. Social BPM, Enterprise social networking, Online real-time collaboration, Adaptive BPM, Enterprise Microblogging. They all have the same target and have great BPM potential. It will be interesting to see which area of Social BPM adopts it faster: process development or end user interface.

Mobile BPM
Most BPM vendors have simple mobile functionality (receiving tasks and notifications via emails and SMS notifications). The round cycle (updating the BPM system by mobile) is still lacking.
Missing standards in the mobile industry prevent a BPM solution from being used by ALL the mobile device types, all the mobile devices, operating systems, application platforms and versions.
That said, the biggest obticles of BPM mobile adoption in organisations are still the security issue (opening up a closed BPM system to the web) and user authentication (audit trail corruption).

Case Management
Case Management, traditionally part of ECM, is slowly becoming part of the BPM solution offering. If ECM vendors don’t start pulling their socks up – Documents, Record management, Collaboration will become part of the BPM offering as well.
Even without these, I foresee event processing, real-time operational intelligence and CEP to be added to the case management solutions in the near future.

Trends downgraded from last year

Open Source
Open Source has become part of mainstream BPM in the last year, no longer a niche. Just a vendor differentiator like Microsoft-based, Java-based, Open-Source-based.
Although the interest of the novel businesses approach has dwindled, the open source vendors are continuing to grow, and are required to show the benefits and practical benefits of their technology solutions.

Adaptive Case Management
The ACM acronym has been (and still is) an important part of the BPM debate.
Everyone understands the need for unstructured process, ad-hoc functionality to solve unpredictable events, but no one is doing anything about it.
Although ACM has been around for years – it still hasn’t caught on. Vendors haven’t changed their approach and are not hurrying to invest in creating this functionality.

The cloud is going through an awkward period. Most companies are still not jumping onto the Cloud wagon, and Cloud has still not been proven as a cheaper, faster or better solution to deploy BPM solutions.
It doesn’t provide a different solution, a different methodology or even a different approach to BPM – just a different infrastructure platform.
The value of the hype has yet to be proved.

Long Term Trends (and personal wishlist…)

AI – Artificial Intelligence
Years down the line…
Making computers think more like people is an idea that persists. In the workplace, software already predicts customer behavior and machine failures on the factory floor. These capabilities will continue to evolve. AI’s strength is that it can uncover patterns and spot problems amid a mountain of data. That might translate into detecting future trends. The first step will probably be implementing AI in the BPM simulation modules.

The strongest trend in the next couple of years will be Business (Process) Intelligence.
BPM vendors have the process design and process execution elements of the BPM life cycle pretty much nailed.
BI will become a competitive edge for BPM vendors. The difference will be between vendors that provide process design, process execution, and basic reporting – and vendors that provide cutting edge trend analysis, proactive, not interactive.
A system that tells you what needs to be done, instead of a system that just lets you search for the problem. The ability to be alerted of problems and solve them before they need to be escalated. Visibility and accountability.
There will be more requirements for reporting, drill-downs, analytics, KPIs, impact analysis.
It should come as no surprise to see mergers of BPM and BI vendors, OEMs and joint solutions in the next couple of years.
The biggest differentiator between BPM solutions, from a customer’s point of view – will be the quality of the BI offering.

Google is one of the most innovative of the big companies currently in the market.
Any new innovation that Google comes out with will have an impact on BPM vendor offerings. Currently, when comparing BPM vendors offerings, one of the differentiators is Microsoft vs Java solutions. All the vendors have one eye open on Google.
Integrating with any Google future application (Search, Mobile, Email…) will be seen as giving the vendor a competitor edge.


  1. Being an employee of ISIS Papyrus I am aware that what i am going to write is being qualified as Marketing and Hype. In response I would say “leave the powerpoint world and enter the Real World get in contact and let us execute together an on-site Proof of Concept”. p.s. Max his blog is for a reason called “Welcome to the Real(IT) World” and contains more detailed info on most of the trends.

    CEP and AI – since 2007 we ship out patented User Trained Agent which is a learning component for CEP. Event processing itself is at the core of the architecture of Papyrus.

    Social BPM – Our model preservation approach allows us not only to execute the model but also to adapt the model in real-time (e.g. adding a task). With our Papyrus Eye User Interface we created twitter like interfaces, chat and micro-blogging as well we have a Social Adapter for integration Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn including Tweet Sentiment Analysis (e.g. creating automatically a support case) and archive of the incoming and outgoing tweets.

    Mobile BPM -.Papyrus Eye/Widget is “define once – deploy on many devices” technology. Meaning that the applcation being defined runs seamlessly on Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android phone and pads as well in the browser and widgets can even run as MS Sharepoint Webparts.

    ACM – Dont think i have to say more on this one

    Cloud – Although ISIS Papyrus is not a Cloud Service Provider our Papyrus Platform is perfectly suited to run in a cloud environment. Papyrus Node architecture brings unlimited scalability, security sits at the core and the software runs on 11 different platforms heterogenously.

    Open Source – ISIS delivers their Solution Frameworks free-of-charge which includes our ACM framework with full support for BPM and Service Orchestration. Yes, its a framework and not a hard-coded product. Its a model and can be changed and extended by our customers at will.

    Google – We have integration with Google Translate for batch translations as well as for interactive correspondence, We integrate also with Google Mail and Google Calendar e.g. to link with your ACM Tasks, Google Maps to open a map inside a Widget given an address or coordinates. Other Google API`s can be configured in minutes using our Rest/Atom Adapter.

    To good to be true? As said lets do a Proof of Concept, we have much more to bring to the table like capture (freeform and fixform, OCR and ICR), archiving, document composition (batch, online and interactive), channel independence all being components that can be added without additional integration effort or learning programming languages.

  2. Hi Adam:

    Curious you point that Open source was downgraded. As more as new CIO’s are taking position or people that belong to the IT Dpt. influenced by the open source movement, they will try to get rid from big vendors.


    • Hi Alberto,
      The questions is why? To me Open Source stands for speed of innovation, while for most others it stands for cheaper – forgetting that they ask the big vendors to take the risks, giving guarantees for the future, demanding strong sla`s and not to forget compare them on the common features resulting in the fact,as Adam wrote, they have to invest more and more in marketing and sales to stand out of the crowd, which in return drives up the prices and slows down innovation.

      In my former life working for some large consulting firms I had several times Companies and Government organizations asking us to take ownership of their Open Source components and products and to participate in the community to make sure that their investment was being protected, something we could not do of course.

  3. Interesting writeup on BPM trends.

    Nothing the ISIS Papyrus people say needs to be branded as Marketing and Hype.

    I use ACM, BPM and CPM in my work – for me it’s as simple as A, B, C.

    Each of these approaches does what it does well.

    Put them together and the sum is greater than the parts.

  4. Great Post. I agree with the Mobile BPM and Complex Event Processing part. My Team has developed a Framework called Savmobify – http://savmobify.comwhich allows Users of Savvion Business Managers to leverage the Mobile BPM Space. We are also extending it to other products. You and your readers are welcome to check it out. We would be more than happy to give a demo and see what you think about it

  5. […] […]

  6. Adam, great post. Agree on most of your predictions on Mobile, Social and CEP. Agree with your downgrades as those three topics are becoming part and parcel of any solution, so less a focus of hype. Would love to see much more around BI but afraid Google might be on the down slope. Chris

  7. Well analysed! And I think you are rigth.
    What do you think about teh Internet of Things. What will be the influences to BPM?
    John Mahoney will speak about it in his Closing Keynote of Gartners BPM Summit in London 2012.

  8. Hi Adam,

    Totally agree with you about the importance of mobility and social BPM. On a similar note, check out a new BPM suite in the market, Thinkflow BPM- What we should make sure that adapting a new BPM tool should not hinder the already existed Business Process. We should also make sure that we are able to take full leverage of the tool for optimizing the results. So, I think, you will get all your requirements met at Thinkflow Software.

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