As Connie Moore writes here: "Ever wonder why the business process management (BPM) software market is so small? And more importantly, will it ever grow up? Or is BPM software perpetually stuck in the role of a small pup instead of running with the big dogs, like analytics, collaboration and content?" What do you think?
Well... As long as the "BPM word" is exhaled (in one go) with (workflow)automation, going digital or heck, processmapping (ouch!), I fear nothing will change; it's just not sexy. It's for nerds. Analysts.
But... As soon as the average business user gets daily operational value out of it, therefore saving tons of time and (organizational) structure is finally a deriviate of process, things will definitely change. But perhaps we should name that Collaborative Business Process Knowledge Management by then... Or simply Process Based Management (as Roger Tregear puts it so nicely) :-).
Process will always be a crucial aspect of Enterprise Software, but the focus has shifted to insuring that the Human Interactions engage customers and employees. The velocity of change to UI technologies, especially Mobile, is staggering and shows no hint of slowing, so IT attention is rivetted on tools and techniques for presenting and gathering information.
This is my premise for why the pure BPM market stays small. The BPMS is just crucial but dull middleware.
You've heard the joke - AI is what they call it until it works, and then you call it [search, configuration, facial recognition, etc.]
Maybe BPM is what they call it until it is a market, and then you call it [CRM, Social Media Management, etc.] :)
More seriously, for anyone building a business from scratch, BPM market is plenty big. And because it isn't on everyone's radar as the next hot spot, you actually have time to develop a business and build out your capabilities. Good stuff.
Good point and in my opinion until the vested self interest to maintain status quo of large suppliers and the so called independent analysts are exposed the BPM message will likely remain in a corner. We need real research on just how the next generation software works that focuses on supporting people and their business operations ie BPM thinking. It is also essential there is total transparency on fees paid to the researchers/analysts by vendors/suppliers.
It is just a question of time for this necessary shift but will BPM be recognised as the driver? I hope so....
BPM is a niche, and a specialized one at that. Everyone has content and there's lots of ways to do that, but the ECM market has seen the prophecy of it being "infra" fulfilled even though it marginalizes expertise in that space. Fast, easy, performant search anyone?
Analytics and collaboration are flavors du jour with the latter doing five year pendulum swings for about twenty years now. Analytics will ebb soon as well as ROI doesn't line up with the cost most are expending.
BPM, "discipline" aside, is much more subjective and is further splintered by BPMS platforms from all the vendors. The higher, more holistic "process improvement" holds substantially more potential, but few businesses or organizations have the political will or tenacity to see it through.
Just my tuppence.
Why is the BPM market so small? Some thoughts
1. The addressable market is being continuously eroded by other business applications e.g. CRM, ECM, web self-service that offer lighter workflow capabilities. This erosion will continue with on demand or zero code process solutions.
2. Humans are cheap. Wages of the ordinary worker have not risen as expected, especially since 2008. This has reduced one of the main reasons for BPM deployment, cost reduction.
3. BPM applications remain complex and not user friendly which has throttled adoption and roll out. A high level of professional services is still required.
4. BPM vendors have focused on all the wrong things in recent years e.g. social, mobile, collaboration rather than on improving the usability of core capabilities i.e. process design, integration and business rules.
I expect that on demand process apps will significantly increase. Whether these will be delivered by BPM applications and thus classified as being part of the BPM market remains to be seen.
ERP, CRM, WMS, even ECM software is bare necessity - a company can't live without decent accounting.
BPM software, by contrast, is a premium stuff - it may give a company a considerable advantage if... The list of "if-s" is quite long: if you have knowledge and budget and patience and executive support and - probably most important - time and will to transform your company.
Looks like a challenge, not duty - right? As the result, one may be fired for not implementing ERP or SCM but not for not implementing BPM as a methodology and technology. I have customers who overcomed this challenge, they've got significant business advantage and literally can't imagine their operations without BPM/S environment but it's impossible to shrink-wrap this experience and sell it as a packaged software or best practices.
BPM is a stragegic initiative by definition and strategy sells worse than tactics.
Besides, there is a kind of Catch-22: BPM lets you close gaps between corporate silos etc. but the existing gaps - most importantly, the gap between IT and business - are a barrier on the way. Most IT departments either don't understand BPM/S or understand it badly wrong.
And finally - yes, there are certain debts that vendor should pay to customers - like smooth integration of architecture and process tools, single environment for process/case/project work, supporting external customers as well as internal employees. But this is the least important factor I'm afraid.
My fresh entrepreneurial endeavour has given me a few hints of why the BPM market is a challenge. Let's try (you may not like some of it):
a/ BPM implementations are usually led by management consultants. Which means there's a significant upfront charge (remember the AS-IS discussions?) that induces a lot of friction into adoption (in case it actually happens).
b/ the B2B, high-touch, sales process is expensive and prevents a large number of small deployments. Naturally, implementers will focus on a lower number of larger accounts, with larger user bases, with more money to spend upfront because the sales RoI is significantly higher. A trap, in my opinion, but it's the easiest thing to do, so many do it.
c/ there are few BPM implementers that have refined a low-volume, high-velocity sales engine. It's hard to make the transition from enterprise to web business models, despite growing evidence (empirical, in my case) that there is a significant market down here.
d/ there are very few BPM tools that can actually support a sales engine as described in c/. That is because such a tool would have to be extremely mature (in securing an universal enough architecture and a large enough repository of microprocesses and interfaces and data models) but still sell for a price low enough per user to activate lower segments in the BPM market.
Reconciling all that takes time. After all, despite the relative maturity of the BPMN standard, some important pieces of the business modelling puzzle are actually very recent (CMMN, DMN).
Despite all the above, I'm actually as excited as I've ever been about opportunities on the BPM market. :-)
And I have barely scratched the surface...
Practically all companies are using processes, but the BPM-suite tools market is still small. Some reasons why.
1) BPM-suite tools try to compete with almost all the enterprise-wide technologies: analytics, collaboration, ESB, RAD, etc. Thus they are too universal and do not over-perform those technologies.
2) BPM-suite tools are not good “enterprise” citizens because they are actually “programmable monolith” platforms (see ref1) which want to do almost everything in their own way and only within them-selves.
3) Best for fit choice approach is not possible with BPM-suite tools because enterprise needs/maturity is changing faster than an enterprise can replace its BPM-suite tool.
4) No good reference model, no reference architectures, and existing standards are vendor-driven. All consultants push their own version of BPM. (see ref2)
5) Even the best BPM-suite tool requires very serious efforts to achieve synergy between diversity and uniformity at the scale of an enterprise. (see ref3)
6) Potentials of BPM tools are huge but the current vendor-driven character of the BPM industry prevents the real success of BPM.
Data and content platforms have a crucial advantage over process platforms: data and content are far more tangible than processes, which makes it easier to argue for their value.
Perhaps this is why so much activity in the BPM market ignores the bits about busines, process or management and focuses on the one tangible part: process models.
Analytics would have the same problem, but it somehow sounds more intellectual than BPM. As for collaboration, I have no idea why that’s a thing, rather than a necessary part of all software that teams use, like usability.
The market is enormous. But the market doesn't yet know it's the market. When a few enterprise CIOs have saved millions by leveraging the efficiency and agility of BPM—not as a cute way to automate a few back office processes, but rather as the backbone of all business application development—we'll see the real size of this market.
Why is it taking so long? Because vendors and analysts are still treating BPM as a niche platform, something you add on to your ERP or HRIS to make it more flexible. Important to have, perhaps, but limited in scope.
Have to admit, although I love what I'm doing now and wouldn't trade it for anything, sometimes I think it might be fun to go back to being a CIO for a while, if only to show the extent of what can be accomplished using this technology. Fortune favors the bold.
Not sure how many vendors in the BPM market space directly pitch BPM to their prospective customers.
Seems to me this makes for a "hard sell".
If you go to www.civerex.com, you will see
"..knowledgebase, process mapping, workflow management/continuous quality management" software
with, later on, only a passing reference to BPM
"All of the Civerex core transaction processing applications have their foundation in Adaptive Case Management (ACM), Business Process Management (BPM), and Enterprise Content Management (ECM)."
Our focus has always been on workflow and workload management (knowledge -> information -> decision making -> workflow/workload -> meeting objectives)
I think the comments above nailed it and as Connie also observes “BPM software doesn’t have a natural home or advocacy group within the organization” meaning that there is no defined buyer persona. Unlike CRM or ERP, the responsibility for BPM is often with “business” and that means no one owns it. It is also the reason why some BPM vendors are re-branding as IT-friendly low code, rapid application development platforms.
To me BPM has become the Swiss Army Knife of applications and this Wenger product on Amazon(it is not available for purchase – go figure) describes the BPM dilemma. It can do everything for everyone but buyers are looking for specific outcomes like what CRM and ECM promise. See Scott Francis' comment on sellng the "what" not the "how".
By the way, read the Top Customer Reviews, they are hilarious, but also reflect what we see in the BPM market.
Simple really - BPM is small because not many people buy it.
The CIO buys technology (platforms, applications ie BPM).
The business - who are now in the driving seat - buy outcomes (Customer Success, Compliance met, Increased revenue)
The CIO's buying power is waning and BPM vendors are not changing their message to appeal to the business buyer (like what Soctt said).
If the BPM market is too small It's our fault. We are sitting on a gold mine of benefits and we spend too much time pushing our favorite mine entrance instead of mining the gold. I have several suggestions:
Believe in the hard proven benefits of BPM and push those benefits
Stop arguing about business modeling versus execution / mining
Stop arguing about process vesrsus case for emerging processes (rule driven processes are a good as data driven processes)
Start bring together the various aspects of the BPM markets including the SIs
Start publishing more success stories particulalrly the spetacular ones
Start realizing that BPM is one of the key legs of the Digital stool
Push the Versatility of BPM in a changing world.
Just my two cents,
Lots of very good observations from virtually all of the above. I want a Wenger 16999! You sort of know I couldn’t resist commenting on this one. Like Connie, I have been around this space since Adam was a cowboy.
I saw an Ovum Report in 1989 that said by 1992, workflow would be a market worth $2B (didn’t happen), followed by lots of others and then some years later, another (from Ovum) that said it would be worth $2B by 1997 (I haven’t got it in for Ovum … just their initial report was the first I remember trying to predict the future of this space). Then in 2003 we all had to reinvent our stories as the name changed. It became BPM, followed by several attempts to divert/rename the category – adaptive/dynamic case, social, decision management - and so the cycle repeats itself. And as pointed out already there’s lots of related markets that need a process foundation. Here we are nearly 30 years later and I would argue that the core software component of the market is still not much more than $3-4B. In reality, I feel all of these predictions of market size miss the point … they are there really only to support the vendor investment proposition and to hype the market.
There’s not a lot I can add. My 2p worth:
1. There is the software aspect of BPM, and the business engagement/improvement/simplification side. Software technology has been able to solve most technical problems for a while (if yours doesn’t, get rid of it and get one that does). After that, it’s all about how you engage the people. BPM software is often applied as a “fix” for deep seated people issues. People resist. What a surprise.
2. Technology deployments are usually applied as a “Band-Aid” rather than a “Wellness Program” within organisations. The problem is that the Wellness Program version of BPM involves challenging the hegemony of the existing functions – they lose power and control as cross functional processes deliver better outcomes to customers. Putting that another way, lower maturity firms use processes to support the bonuses of the functional bosses. Higher maturity, the processes are there to support the better outcomes of customers.
3. The modern BPM software market could be characterised by environments that enable configuration rather than coding … hence the models. Whether it’s rules, processes, goals … the real challenge here is that most people just don’t think abstractly. Sure, the folks reading this are, by definition, more the abstract, big picture thinkers. But in a Bank, just like a conversation on Diversity driven by the HR organisation, the eyes glaze over and they want to outsource that to some nerd or just tick a box … as in “Yeah – but did you get that big M&A deal. Let’s move on.”
4. As touched on already, the cost of sale is really the big killer. Big cost of sale targeted at big business problems needing a bigger Band-Aid. Project needs a big consultancy with a big bill for services, who then come in to “do it to the organisation.” Final result – big project disaster, which is then blamed on immature software by an uneducated technology press.
Arguably, the lightweight application integration market that is emerging around cloud applications – Zapier springs to mind (but there are others), tying together applications like Typeform, Mailchimp, Evernote, Slack, GoogleSheets, etc. While the user interfaces have lots of challenges, at least the cost model is right for widespread distribution. In the end, the cost of software is purely arbitrary … mostly dictated by the business model of the vendor.
BPM market is small probably because it is a school of thought. At its core it is about looking inwardly because looking externally. People want to live instinctually day by day without looking inward to "fix" themselves. So if it is tough to establish then there seems to be little motivation for anyone to expand it. In addition, BPM brings about a certain amount of transparency. Would companies want to willingly accept this?
@John Morris how is the "world better than it was yesterday'? It's highly subjective. It sounds good and feels good to say. But I'd like to hear your thoughts.
No doubt where medical is cause for concern, getting rid of diseases is not a point of contention. It's good it doesn't exist.
Back to BPM, it takes "too" long to implement and realise the benefits. And as is the case, in an economic downturn, these activities always are first to go. So organizational changes have to be quick for it to be realised before a downturn. For example, in a consumer sense there has been an increase in wearable technology. Smartwatches, water trackers etc. You buy it and you can begin tracking. Is there a BPM equivalent of that?