Appian Tempo

Appian today launched Tempo, a new social/mobile capability of their BPM Suite. Sandy Kemsley has the full details here, which means I don't need to repeat them. I just have a couple comments about it. First, it's really well executed. Clean and smoothly integrated into the BPM environment. Second, it seems a more reasonable implementation of the social/mobile idea than is typically offered by BPM vendors. I have never really bought into the idea of "social BPM" as something distinct from regular BPM, and Appian has shown that you don't need to reinvent BPM to add social/mobile capabilities. Tempo is not a separate product; it's an optional user interface to regular BPM, based on a Facebook-style event stream and subscription model familiar and attractive to many users from a non-business context. Tempo lets you create and track ad-hoc tasks, sure, but that (in my view) is not really BPM. What's important is it lets you also do real BPM, i.e. structured processes, within the same environment. From your smartphone or iPad, you can perform tasks of either type, often just by "swiping" the entry, quick and easy. BPM vendors that insist on a separate "place" for users to do ad-hoc BPM are missing the boat. Who wants that?

The hard part of BPM is the underlying architecture, the plumbing. The "user experience", not to diminish its importance, is technically easier to engineer. And once you face up to that, you don't have to reconceive social/mobile BPM as something radically different, needing a totally separate product,. It becomes simply an alternative user interface that lets you extend real BPM to occasional users who wouldn't otherwise participate, and enhance the value for regular BPM users by letting them perform process activities without being chained to the workflow inbox. By making event streams and native smartphone UI a simple extension of the BPMS environment, not a whole "new new thing", Tempo I think puts Appian in the driver's seat in social/mobile BPM.