The Year Ahead for BPM -- 2015 Predictions from Top Influencers

Nathaniel Palmer

Introduction by Nathaniel Palmer

Each year BPM pundits (like us) make pronouncements around this time of the calendar, claiming that this will be THE year for the breakout of BPM. Just as predictably the cynics moan “You always say that! This year will be no different than the last one.

The truth is, they’re both right. BPM has advanced year over year, continuously transforming not only itself but the environments where it is applied. Its “banner years” are hard to distinguish from any other, yet in no year has BPM failed to deliver. At this moment, as we look forward over the next 12 months, there can no doubt it will again be a banner year for BPM. Yet is also indisputably different. This will be better than we have seen before.

In the past we described BPM in terms of its potential, what it could do if only businesses and other enterprises were ready to fully leverage it. Now we can measure what it has done, how it has truly transformed not only operations but expectations. Enterprises who have adopted BPM are forever changed for the better. The proof-points, once elusive, are now easy to find and impossible to ignore.

Yet all of this is part of the beginning, not the end, of any inflexion point in the trajectory of change – of everything. This is the arrival of digital disruption, which recognizes no finite boundaries on what it will change. Everything today that we see, touch, buy, consume, require to live – it will all be affected in one capacity or another.

This week a bank in Japan debuted robots in its front office operations. Today it is for novelty, but soon the majority of customer-facing interaction will happen via some form of robot, whether physical or virtual as an intelligent software agent, and increasingly between the agents themselves. My prediction is that it will take less than 5 years before the majority of customer interactions via intelligent agents will exceed those with human beings. Yet this will also be nearly impossible to measure, with the rapidly blurring lines between human and machine interaction.

BPM is inevitably changing in the face of these developments, but more so what makes this possible is in fact BPM itself. Getting the novelty stage, is not the advancement robotics, at least not alone, which although them to enter the workforce. It is intelligent BPM that is expanding the window of what can be automated, by enabling adaptable automation. Once a dirty word in BPM circles, “automation” will return to forefront, because we will not be referring thoughtless script workflows, but adaptive and data-driven processes automated by intelligent and distributed software agents managed through an “intelligent hub” of BPM.

The data-driven transformation now well underway parallels a volume of data generated that is already nearly incomprehensible, but merely a fraction of what it will be. Consider all data produced from the beginning of history to the year 2002 – that entire volume is now produced every 10 minutes. Yet within 5 years, the same volume will take less than a second.

“Big Data” has never been so large, nor presented such a critical role within enterprises and the processes that drive them. In the era of the Internet of Things where “smart” homes, appliances, cars, phones, virtually imaginable device are all connected, BPM must and will be everywhere. With estimates of 30 billion or more connected devices, there will be far too many and interactions far too complex to keep pace with traditional software techniques.

BPM is already at the center of this, and its presence will grow enormously. Not simply automation, but emergent factors of such as process mining will be critical for uncovering engagement patterns, and the need for process management platforms to coordinate interaction and control of smart devices.

Looked at through the lens of what is in place in most organizations already, this all may sound like science fiction, or least exaggeration – robots in the workforce, materials delivered by drones, self-optimizing intelligence processes, collaborating via wearable devices and in your car (through your car). But it’s not science fiction, it is business reality, delivered today in part by the mind-blowing array of innovations showcased just a week ago at CES.

Of course, cool devices and machines by themselves do not equate to digital transformation any more than smart phones alone changed how we work. It is BPM that is the real leverage point. Starting today, we need to measure and evaluate BPM not by what it looks like, but how it is changing the world around us. How it is enabling digital transformation.

To help frame this vision, we asked both leading BPM software vendors and the top BPM thought leaders to share their views on what to look for, and what their plans are for 2015. Here is what they said.

Peter FingarPeter Fingar

Cognitive computing, the AI redux, has arrived and all is changed, changed utterly. Traditional machine learning techniques, including classic neural networks, need to be supervised by humans so they can learn. Deep learning is an approach to have the system learn on its own, without intervention. Get ready for Cognitive BPM, or else. It is already changing the other three big game changers: Smart Process Apps, Gamification, and Prescriptive Analytics driven by the Internet of Things.  Watch This!

Ben Farrell, Appian

2015 will be a very exciting year for our industry, and digital business is the driver. The pressure to rapidly – and continuously – adapt to new “digital moment” opportunities and threats will drive business and IT leaders to new, faster, and more modern approaches to application development. BPM platforms that tightly-integrate model-driven development, enterprise data management, write once/run everywhere mobility, social collaboration, and cloud delivery will evolve into modern enterprise application platforms.

It will still be BPM, but a new breed of BPM offering inherently higher returns across the organization and its value chain. BPM’s opportunity is to supplant traditional app dev, and provide a better way for organizations to spend the hundreds of billions of dollars currently directed to custom application development every year.

In 2015, Appian will continue making it easier for IT to deliver innovative capabilities to the business much faster, and at lower costs, while also making it painless to change those applications as business needs change. Our focus through the year will remain helping companies capitalize on what makes them unique.

Keith SwensonKeith Swenson

The half-way point for the decade of the 2010's can best summed up by a few things that happened to me in the past couple days:

  1. I spent $12 to purchase 12 months of web hosting.  That doesn't even cover the electric bill for the laptop I will use to set the site up.  Cloud computing resources are unbelievably cheap.
  2. I used Google today to look up the address for the office I work in.  It is printed on all my business cards, but it is just easier to use Google than to find a business card.  Information is unbelievable easy to access.
  3. To save money in the next couple months, my company has cancelled all travel that was not mandated by a customer contract.  We are all traveling less, and yet working more on teams that are distributed over larger areas.  Communications allows unbelievable levels for collaboration.
  4. A single professor in Holland gave completion certificates to 1,690 students from all over the world on the subject of Process Mining.  And the course was free.  Over the holidays, I discovered a new JavaScript framework, and I found a dozen hours of free videos explaining how to use it.  Learning can scale to unbelievable levels.

We are in a time of wonders.  Some day we will look back on this year, and say; "Those were the good old days."  However, we will mostly think of them as unbelievable.

Read Keith’s book, When Thinking Matters in the Workplace: How Executives and Leaders of Knowledge Work Teams can best take advantage of Technology for case management.

WhitesteinDominic Greenwood, Whitestein

Without doubt the dominating driver for 2015 in the BPM plane, and many associated areas, is software intelligence. The incorporation of intelligence into the software machine is echoing for business what we now commonly experience as consumers, with services such as Siri and Google that process vast information spaces to present coherent and relevant knowledge at the moment of demand. We see BPM taking a lead role in realizing the value of machine intelligence in the enterprise by cutting through complexity to deliver simple, transparent, and timely decisions.

Infusing software, and by extension connected 'things', with the ability to manipulate own behavior according to a comprehension of situation and objectives, is at the core of contemporary process application design. From the decision to reconstitute a case flow using a pattern learned from experience in response to a sudden change in resources, to adaptation of robotic behavior in a warehouse to compensate for late goods arrival, software intelligence allows the machine to decide and act based on an understanding of changing context. This is not heralding the arrival of artificial intelligence in the enterprise, which already happened with few noticing; this is simply using the machine to analytically process vast volumes of information to derive informed decisions that are of the moment.

Providing intelligent software is Whitestein's DNA; BPM and domain solutions that solve hard problems with smart software. Thus we are ideally situated to advise our clients and partners how they can benefit from harnessing more intelligence in their business. Truly exciting times.

Red HatPhil Simpson, RedHat

Our prediction is that 2015 will be a year in which the delivery of BPM solutions will undergo a dramatic shift.  Businesses are looking to BPM as they seek new ways to engage with their customers, but expensive, enterprise bloatware installed and used by armies of highly trained practitioners no longer makes sense.  A transition to accessible, cost effective services that can be consumed by business people and “citizen developers” everywhere is underway.  We at Red Hat believe that accessibility is key to  future adoption of BPM, and that accessible BPM services will in turn drive development of new systems of engagement.  

The technological foundation for this shift has been developing for the last several years and is now ready to take center stage.  Scalable, elastic, mobile-ready clouds built on open source stacks will underpin the new delivery model, and offer simple self-service provisioning for development, integration and business process services.

In 2015 expect to see Red Hat address this transition with new BPM and application development services offered on our OpenShift® private and public PaaS.  JBoss xPaaS services will offer an ROI only made possible by combining open source BPM, integration and mobile middleware with a service delivery model.

FCBSteve Stanton, FCB Partners

In 2015 we’ll see a reengineering revival.  As the pace of technical evolution continues to accelerate, large traditional organizations will have to find ways to turbo-charge their processes quickly.  Incremental solutions will no longer suffice.  Despite the risks, Big Change Fast will increasingly be the tool of process professionals as they deploy new technologies to delight their customers and fend off disruptors.  Better sameness will be yesterday’s news.

Jim SinurJim Sinur

Market Momentum:
The BPM related markets will continue to grow at double digit rates and there will be a larger number of new players that will take one or more of the technologies contributing to evolving digital platforms and drive them home to deliver benefit quickly while the big vendors take a longer time to evolve a complete platform. Medium sized vendors will pick a starting point, such as visibility to drive revenue while they expand their digital platform. One of the side effects of the new digital platforms and the combining of technologies is complexity and the ability to manage it. BPM will let go of some control and push some of the intelligence and control to the edge with the agent enabled IoT (smarts at the source and destination). The big and powerful vendors will push incremental transformation that leverages the digital platforms advantages while dealing with a portfolio of legacy processes and applications.

Technology Interactions:
The pace of including emerging technology silos will quicken and I expect that there be flashes of technology innovation that will require collaboration and eventual inclusion into process efforts. The areas I expect to be hot are the Internet of things (IoT), Cognitive Computing, Personal Assistants (Intelligent agents), Machine Intelligence, Robotics, Improved Big Data Analytics and Advanced Visualization Capabilities. I also expect a raft of encouraging case studies to start to emerge in 2015 that shows the strong benefit of BPM and these new areas just like we saw on social, mobile, cloud and analytics. While these 2013 & 2014 themes will continue to show up in sharp case studies, these newer technologies will make the way into proof points as well.

Net; Net:
With the investment in technology soaring in the US in 2015 and BPM earning it's way into cost savings solutions in economies just approaching higher GDP growth, I expect another strong process year in 2015. These are exciting days.

MicroPactRoger Hughlett, MicroPact

Case Management will continue to be embraced by more and more enterprises across multiple industries – from healthcare and higher education to energy and finance – in 2015. As the global leader in Data-First™ Case Management and Business Process Management (BPM) software, MicroPact will be on the forefront on this ongoing shift in how business processes are defined and improved through innovative software.

The speed at which technology and business are changing is increasing, and the best software will embrace these changes in order to help customers and end-users improve processes and drive better outcomes. Case Management and BPM will continue to move away from static models and move toward more dynamic models in order to deliver more agile and responsive solutions best suited for the unstable nature of business.

MicroPact’s entellitrak® platform for Case Management and BPM takes a Data-First approach, which puts information (unstructured or structured data) before process. This allows solutions to be implemented immediately and configured continuously. This enables customers to get to work quickly while keeping costs low. By focusing on the data, the entellitrak platform empowers enterprises to shift and respond to the constantly changing market.

PNM SoftGal Horvitz, PNMsoft


  1. More BPM technology in core, mission critical applications and customer facing solutions.
  2. More organizations already with an expensive and slow to deploy BPM platform from a big vendor will add another BPM tool with a more attractive cost, agility and time to solution for many other business processes nit currently covered by their first BPM platform.
  3. More organizations will address Big Change with frequent Small steps to reduce risk and gain organizational support.
  4. Mobile and CRM integration will become more popular scenarios for BPM applications

PNMsoft 2015 Plans:

  1. Leverage the growing popularity of the second generation of its HotChange® technology that powers PNMsoft Sequence Kinetics iBPMS to drive its annual growth forecast of 45%.
  2. Significantly increase its sales, marketing and professional services departments, to support its business partner and customers.
  3. Provide training to many customers, business partners and BPM professionals on PNMsoft technology and “Big Change, Small Steps”™ methodology.
  4. Launch a new major version of Sequence Kinetics iBPMS and Sequence Kinetics CRM Edition (SCE).

BP LogixE. Scott Menter, BP Logix

BPM is the Clark Kent of enterprise software. Friendly and helpful, it performs its important but mundane job in yeoman-like fashion, as all the while even those closest to it remain unaware of its incredible capabilities.

Despite its mild-mannered exterior, however, BPM is on the cusp of unleashing a revolution. BPM hides beneath its workaday facade the legendary unobtainium of business technology: the opportunity to rapidly develop and deploy rich, complex applications with little or no coding.

This revolution, like so many before it, is sparked by rising expectations. Customers demand round-the-clock online interaction. Their expectations are famously changeable, their patience minimal. In 2015, businesses don’t have the luxury of waiting as applications are developed from scratch, or re-engineered to accommodate new requirements. The customer is always a keystroke away from jumping to your competitor.

BPM’s power lies in its ability to simplify the development cycle through point-and-click configuration, predefined building blocks, and easy integration with enterprise applications. These capabilities not only accelerate delivery; they also slash costs through reduced demand for scarce and expensive programming resources.

In 2015, these benefits will become increasingly apparent. In the long run, they stand to change the IT/business relationship forever.

AINSLloyd Dugan, AINS

2015 is the Year of the Case! This is the year true case management clearly distinguishes itself from what traditional BPMSs have delivered so far. The innovative eCase platform from AINS, Inc. is built from the ground up to implement adaptive case management solutions that provide workflow-driven information management, tracking, and reporting around a wide range of business processes. eCase customers can automate numerous case workflows across horizontal functions or for vertical segments, including pre-developed, deployable frameworks for HR, Audits & Investigations, Complaints and more. By focusing on the knowledge worker and achieving better outcomes, eCase helps customers manage their business information efficiently and effectively, gaining valuable competitive advantage. AINS is ready to shape the emerging case management market by providing solutions built for the business user. eCase’s ‘configuration over coding’ platform requires little technical skill to design and deploy applications, and its Microsoft-based technology and lack of reliance on underlying Java application servers make it lightweight to implement and maintain. With high-profile showings at the Gartner BPM 2014 and BPM & ACM 2014 Conferences, and strategic moves to evangelize the product and build its partner program, AINS is well positioned to make eCase the premiere case management solution.

BizagiGustavo Gomez - CEO, Bizagi

Process, data, collaboration & analytics will drive innovation and customer centricity.

This year’s huge interest in Big Data and ‘data centricity’ within BPM platforms will be the yardstick by which vendors are judged in 2015. Leaders that have navigated their businesses through tricky economic waters will once again put process management on the agenda, but unlike pre-recession times they will not put up with long and convoluted implementations.

The need to delight customers will put pressure on vendors to deliver quickly – first processes in weeks – and demand demonstrable ROIs for each and every project. Data will drive BPM platforms with elegant, layered ‘stacks’ capable of delivering the perfect (mobile first) customer journey without integration headaches.

As part of this shift, fuzzier technologies such as Virtualization will make their way into the business users’ lexicon as they become more aware of its capabilities. More and more users, excited by the lightweight, customizable process apps offered for free on online marketplaces and exchanges (link to:, will ensure that 2015 will be a fun year for the BPM community as collaborative BPM breaks down the walls between seasoned practitioners and the leaders of tomorrow.

FCBBrad Power, FCB Partners

The trends I am seeing:

  • Software is eating the world -- the amount of IT that is part of a customer's experience is increasing. This trend is leading to very short lifecycles and putting a premium on being fast.

  • Organizations are shifting their focus from operational excellence and continuous improvement to innovation and disruption. Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Continuous Delivery are getting increasing attention in process methods.

  • Organizations are looking at ways they can embrace innovation and disruption rather than being afraid of being disrupted. They are putting outposts in Silicon Valley, starting incubators, and making venture investments.

​My prediction for 2015:

  • Several Fortune 1000 companies, following the lead of Coca Cola, GE, and IBM, will launch new digital/software/analytics innovation business units ("centers of excellence")​ for rapidly building digital platforms and apps. They will be led by CTOs focused on new digital products. They will include new design studios for collaborating with customers and partners. They will use new methods, including Design Thinking ethnography and user experience design, rapid prototyping, and continuous delivery. They will feel like startups, yet leverage the assets of their corporate parents. They will hire young "smart creatives" who are attracted to an organization with big aspirations to make a difference in the world and the assets to address them.

XM ProPieter van Schalkwyk, XMPro

Leading companies will recognize the benefits of using BPM and Operational Intelligence technology to create new business models and become digital enterprises. GE is leading the way by not just digitizing physical artifacts, but creating new revenue models from their digital assets. Organizations will start to understand the meaning and impact of digital business vs e-commerce.

2015 will see the automation of routine work even if it is knowledge work.  Routine human-to-human workflows will be replaced by agent technology where end-users will deal with ‘machine-trained” agents. We already see this with loan approvals and with IBM’s Watson helping doctors treat cancer patients. Robotic processes, machine learning and smart agent technology will start to make a real impact.

Technology will continue to accelerate the pace of business. It will be more important than ever to anticipate and identify key events in real-time that will impact our organizations, decide if action is needed and take rapid action in a predictable manner.  

XMPro will continue to develop our Sense > Decide > Act capabilities in our event-based Intelligent Business Operations Suite to enable organizations to create Digital Enterprise solutions using events from people, smart agents, applications, fast data and the Internet of Things.


  • Increasingly empowered and demanding customers will make it obvious that BPM and CRM were in fact separated at birth and should finally come together.  Companies are learning that they cannot deliver great customer experiences without connecting to and simplifying operational processes.

  • Processes and interaction models will be discovered, adapt and change in real-time using Big Data and event stream analytics.

  • An increasing majority of forward thinking process modelers will come to embrace the concept of dynamic case.

  • BPM platforms that cannot generate applications just as beautiful and modern as those created by manual coding environments will not be used for strategic enterprise transformation.

  • Mobile applications that cannot change dynamically and cannot be measured by how well they drive strategic goals will increasingly fail to capture employee and customer adoption.

  • Real time sensors and the Internet of Things will accelerate the demand for a decision and process hub that can provide mass personalization at scale.

  • The growing need for real-time intelligent decisioning and autonomic processes will mean that BPM architectures with unified decisioning will be increasingly preferred to those that are merely integrated.

Pega will continue to enhance our Pega 7 Platform in the key areas of mobile, real time decisioning, social, cloud, and the internet of things with a focus on empowering our clients to leverage BPM applications to improve marketing, sales and customer service.

Software AGThomas Stoesser, Software AG

Today, global markets are moving at such a quick pace that organizations not only have to change constantly, but they have to get faster and faster at it too. As a result, agility – the ability to change quickly – has become more important than ever. This is also reflected by the increasing number of conversations around strategic transformation programs that we have noticed with our customers and prospects.  In 2015 strategic business (and IT) transformation will be on the rise again.

At the same time, there is going to be a much stronger focus on shadow IT (or business IT) roles. Citizen developers & citizen integrators are leveraging more and more cloud-based offerings for creating tactical, ad-hoc business solutions. This new approach breaks with the tradition of “everything has to be delivered by Enterprise IT” and introduces the notion of empowering Business IT teams or citizen developers to create applications that meet the needs of the business.  However, those tactical custom solutions or out-of-the-box cloud applications will have to be integrated into business processes over time, so integration is coming more back into the spotlight again for BPM.

In 2015 Software AG will take a new BPM platform to market that is catering to both, citizen developers and traditional IT developers.  This new platform is geared for creating new business applications that are built for change and seamlessly integrate with the existing landscape.

SignavioGero Decker, Signavio

Signavio’s growth of more than 80% in 2014 is just yet another proof-point: Business Process Management has reached the masses. Thanks to mature knowledge and easy-to-use technology available in the market place, BPM adoption will grow even faster in 2015, spanning all industry verticals and all company sizes.

For us, “processes + decisions” is a big theme in the product roadmap this year. Making smarter decisions to drive business outcome is a central topic for many organizations in the digital age. With the recently approved DMN standard as an enabler, Business Decision Management is an exciting discipline that helps align Big Data analytics, automated decision making and BPM.

Open TextBrian Wick, OpenText

For 2015, we expect to see organizations getting more aggressive with their digital transformation strategies for customer engagement, supply chain, and internal operations.  Many have implemented digital point solutions within certain LOBs, building websites or creating social media projects, but often found they didn’t deliver on expectations and were hard to manage over time.

Our customers are seeing the innovations available in process automation and information management, and realize they need to link them in a more holistic way to achieve the business agility, efficiency, and productivity levels to remain competitive. At OpenText we take a holistic approach to digital transformation.

We find the most important targets for digital transformation are the human-centric, longer-running, and multi-touch processes as they are the most challenging to transform. These include case management and project management style process flows, and specific areas such as supply chain optimization, contract management, client relationship management, rich media processing, procurement management, and Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) solutions.

Our focus at OpenText is to provide platform technologies for application development, and pre-built applications to help our customers achieve a digital competitive advantage. Our solutions help organizations see information and process as inextricably linked, and provide strong capabilities in digital engagement, collaboration, information management, and integration across systems to ensure very successful outcomes from their digital transformations.


Oracle BPM transforms organizations to thrive in this new digital era by building a responsive enterprise that embraces disruptive technologies such as cloud, mobile, big data, and social. And in addition, Oracle BPM helps you keep ahead of the competition by adapting to the next set of disruptive technologies and business practices that are sure to come. There are seven main focus areas for Oracle BPM in 2015.

  1. Business driven rapid process automation where the business user is empowered in business process development and management

  2. Process analytics – real-time and predictive insightful, powerful analytics to help you take control of business processes and continuously optimize

  3. Solutions – pre-built, productized BPM applications, steeped with industry expertise to help you hit the ground running

  4. Unified BPM Platform with seamless service integration, UXP and ECM to give a people, process, applications, and content an equal experience

  5. Adaptive case management – where structured and unstructured processes  can both be automated and optimized as first class citizens

  6. Process cloud service – full lifecycle of BPM for self-service on the cloud, faster time to market, quick ROI, lowered maintenance costs, easy BPM buy-in

  7. Multi-channel interfaces for business processes including seamless enablement on all channels including mobile, web, social, and integration with internet of things

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Nathaniel Palmer

Rated as the #1 Most Influential Thought Leader in Business Process Management (BPM) by independent research, Nathaniel Palmer is recognized as one of the early originators of BPM, and has led the design for some of the industry’s largest-scale and most complex projects involving investments of $200 Million or more. Today he is the Editor-in-Chief of, as well as the Executive Director of the Workflow Management Coalition, as well as VP and CTO of BPM, Inc. Previously he had been the BPM Practice Director of SRA International, and prior to that Director, Business Consulting for Perot Systems Corp, as well as spent over a decade with Delphi Group serving as VP and CTO. He frequently tops the lists of the most recognized names in his field, and was the first individual named as Laureate in Workflow. Nathaniel has authored or co-authored a dozen books on process innovation and business transformation, including “Intelligent BPM” (2013), “How Knowledge Workers Get Things Done” (2012), “Social BPM” (2011), “Mastering the Unpredictable” (2008) which reached #2 on the Best Seller’s List, “Excellence in Practice” (2007), “Encyclopedia of Database Systems” (2007) and “The X-Economy” (2001). He has been featured in numerous media ranging from Fortune to The New York Times to National Public Radio. Nathaniel holds a DISCO Secret Clearance as well as a Position of Trust with in the U.S. federal government.