Gartner BPM - Better This Year

Often the Gartner BPM conference seems to me the same-old same-old, but I have to say I am getting some valuable new perspective at this year's event in Baltimore. The new wrinkle this year is what Gartner is calling iBPMS, the "i" meaning intelligent. It's really shorthand for a number of new technology-based capabilities that have been swirling around the edges of BPM for a couple years, but which have now graduated to the Magic Quadrant checklist: adaptive, predictive, sensor- and event-aware, rule-driven, context-aware, real-time, social, mobile, cloud-based, maybe even gamified... It sounds like a generational change in BPM technology, although it's not clear from Gartner's examples that these customers think they are implementing BPM. No matter, because once these features go on the BPM MQ checklist, BPMS vendors are compelled to add them. Suite vendors like Pega and Appian seem a bit ahead on the "i" features, but what is more interesting to me from the exhibit area is the number of new companies getting into the BPM arena with many of these capabilities in more standards-based and less hermetically sealed offerings. The core of what Jim Sinur is calling Intelligent Business Operations is real-time operational analytics based on a sense-and-react paradigm. Events from physical sensors, software adapters (including BPMS), and external information feeds are continuously monitored, filtered, and aggregated, then processed by rules, resulting in triggered actions. This sounds like BAM, and it is, except the target is not simply a dashboard or triggered exception handler process, but some adjustment or adaptation in the running process. Clearly events, rules, and analytics, mainstays of BPMS technology for several years, are key components, but they now must be more deeply embedded within the orchestration itself, not mere bolt-on appendages. Rule-engine based suites like Pega have a natural head start, but based on past history, iBPMS will make many of these features commonplace across the BPM landscape in short order. This is going to pose some challenges for process modeling, as BPMN, for example, will be hard-pressed to express this adaptive/reactive behavior. It does not all fit within a strict orchestration paradigm. But there will be ways to express it visually, I am sure. You don't have to join the "BPM is dead, long live ACM" camp. For me, Gartner BPM 2012 is evidence that BPM is still thriving, still evolving to meet a wider set of customer expectations.