Lombardi Process-Enables Cognos Analytic Applications

Last week Lombardi Software announced that Cognos, a leader in business intelligence software, had OEM'ed Lombardi TeamWorks for use in a new line of "analytic applications." This action adds a new twist to the already-blurring boundaries between BPM and performance management/analytics that has been going on for a year or two.

Performance management is one of the 3 legs of the BPMS stool (the others being analytical modeling and process execution), so it's no accident that BPMS vendors have been poaching on BI turf with features like process analytics, management dashboards, and BAM. The BAM situation has been particularly nettlesome, since it requires both real-time event-triggered KPI update and rule evaluation, and a platform for executing rule-triggered actions. Today's BPMSs are actually more likely to have this than BI products, the assumed logical "home" of BAM technology. This is the problem that the Cognos-Lombardi deal addresses (at least in part).

On the other hand, for a long time BPM vendors and BI vendors have happily partnered for "deep analytics," in which BPMS data is passed to BI where it can be merged with other enterprise data streams, mined and analyzed for subtle trends. Cognos, for example, is anxious to point out that the Lombardi agreement in no way affects its partnership program with BPM vendors (including FileNet, Savvion, IBM, EMC Documentum, and Pegasystems, plus Lombardi) for the Cognos 8 platform. The purpose of that program is to jointly develop solutions for:

  1. Process intelligence - analytics on process metrics
  2. BI "in the process" - access to BI analytics from within a process task or management app
  3. Event-driven process - monitor events from BPMS and other data sources to trigger some action (the BAM scenario)
To date, according to Cognos, "we have mapped a framework manager model of all of the BPM vendors in our program?s process repositories. We have also done much deeper integration with FileNet for number 2 and 3." But let's face it, these are basically co-marketing programs, not truly deep integration.

The Lombardi deal is different, representing BPM embedded in Cognos's analytic applications, which are specific industry solutions layered on top of the platform. Although Cognos has a few such apps today, I believe new ones will be developed to take advantage of the embedded process capability. There the process model will be essentially prebuilt in the analytical app; the process design tool will not be exposed to users. (For the users who feel constrained by this, there is undoubtedly the full BPM upsell opportunity.)

This could turn out to be a big deal for the BPM market. Once BI vendors understand what BPMS can do (I don't think they get it yet), we should look for more deals along these lines.