Have the BPM goalposts moved?

DSC_0811.jpgMy last post asked Where is the BPM Market going? and opened the way for discussion (mostly on Twitter) about the changing state of the BPM marketplace.

Thanks to Craig, The Process Ninja, we can now look at the latest analysts offerings from Gartner and Forrester in the form of the Forrester Wave for BPM suites and the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Intelligent Business Process Management Software.

Wait! Hold-up now. "Intelligent Business Process Management Software", you say? What the hell is that?

Gartner has made changes to the classification of BPM solutions by redefining the marketplace. They are referring to this as "an evolution of the BPMS market" that is "centered on a new IBO use case". IBO in this case means Intelligent Business Operations. It is the same thing they did several years ago when the Magic Quadrant for Pure-Play BPM morphed into the Magic Quadrant for Business Process Management Suites.

In other words, they've moved the goalposts!

Further analysis of the underlying reason for this reveals that Gartner feels that iBPMS represents a maturation of the capability and is used typically at higher levels of BPM maturity.

But the problem is they are pushing the same products as they had in the previous Magic Quadrant  for BPMS - which they say cannot be compared with this iBPMS Magic Quadrant.

My recollection of the earlier Magic Quadrant showed a group of vendors in the top right sector of the diagram with a number of other vendors trailing down a diagonal to the bottom left. The new Magic Quadrant shows a wider spread of vendors, many of whom can be found in the lower right quadrant. In Gartner speak this indicates that they are visionaries, but lack the ability to execute on their vision.

So what am I to do if I am a Gartner customer looking to identify which vendor I can pursue to fulfill my needs?

I might previously have gone for a Metastorm offering (for example) as they were highly regarded and in the top right quadrant. They have since been purchased by Open Text and now languish in the lower left quadrant as being niche players with an incomplete vision and a lack of ability to execute. Does this mean the purchase has been a failure? Not at all. But the goalposts have moved.

I worked for American multinationals who would only look at vendors who landed in the top right quadrant of the Gartner grid. As of the current offering this would reduce the market down to three vendors. In many multinationals that's not even enough to put out an Invitation to Tender as a minimum of four vendors are needed.

But is that a problem?

Well it might be if you are one of the vendors who was in a more elevated position and now find yourself in a less elevated position, but if we look at the Forrester Wave report for BPM suites we find some sobering statistics. In a survey of 520 IT decision makers in Q4 2012, when asked "What are your firm's plans to adopt BPM tools", fully 43% said they were not interested or had no plans and only 27% said they were planning to implement.

When the same group were asked "What are your firm's plans to use Software as a Service (SaaS) to complement or replace your BPM software?", 52% answered that they did not know or had no plans to us SaaS and only 33% had plans to do so in 2 years.

In a market where Forrester have identified 52 different vendors competing in the broader BPM market, where Gartner have redefined the goalposts about what a good vendor is, and where half the IT decisions makers are not looking at using BPM, I sense a serious disconnect.

Who are the 52 vendors marketing themselves at? Can the market sustain this onslaught?

Photo Credit: OnTask via Compfight cc

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