TIBCO BPM Impressions

Regarding TIBCO's first-ever "analyst summit" at their annual user conference, I'll leave it to Sandy to record the actual content of the presentations to analysts. I'll stick to the impressionistic view. Apparently "the analysts" had told TIBCO they wanted to hear executives talk about go-to-market strategy, so we got almost nothing about product and an awful lot about "value propositions." Are there really analysts who want to spend half a day hearing about value props and selling tactics? Scary. But, having lowered my expectations completely, TIBCO's "solution showcase" exhibits - open to the hoi polloi after the analyst event ended - actually blew my socks off:

  • Spotfire, a business-empowered performance visualization technology, was dazzling. Not BPM-specific, but a perfect fit for BAM. You take a set of instance data, and interactively scatter-plot any metrics against each other, zoom in on a region of interest, filter instances with a slider in real time, and list the instances in the set. All real time, interactive, no code. Totally cool. If they would just put that inside iProcess BAM and get rid of the IDS Scheer analytics, it would make total sense. No they did not announce that.
  • iProcess Conductor. Supposedly this has been around for several years, but I missed it completely in the BPMS Reports, and TIBCO never noticed. I call it case management, but it works as well with fully automated straight-through processes, so TIBCO calls it "dynamic BPM." The idea is a container that holds multiple processes added ad-hoc at runtime either by human decision or event-triggered rules. Each included process has its own expected duration, SLA duration, and actual duration, and processes have dependency relationships with other processes in the case, er... container. The software calculates the Gantt chart for the overall process and can identify critical paths, SLA violations, expected completion dates, all updated as the case progresses. I have had clients looking for this for years, and never knew TIBCO had it. Very cool. conductor2.jpg
  • Business Studio 3.0. This is TIBCO's Eclipse-based free full-BPMN modeler/designer, now enhanced with an Ajax forms designer and direct deployment to the runtime environment (without going through the old iProcess Modeler tool). The free download will not include the forms piece, and you still need to buy the runtime to do unit testing. It should all be free, in my view, as the competition (Oracle BPA/SOA Suite) lets you download a unit test environment along with the tool, while TIBCO gives you a faster path from model to implementation. You would still need to write a large check to deploy into production. They say they "have reasons" for doing it this way now (but hold open the possibility of making it all freely available in the future).
Bottom line, TIBCO has the piece-parts for a world-class BPM Suite, but BPMS market dynamics appear to run counter to TIBCO's overall marketing strategy. BPMS favors integrated suites, while TIBCO's strategy features component "neutrality", meaning each piece of the stack is sold individually on its own merits, not as an integrated platform that works together as a unit. The BPMS market wants to hear about business empowered implementation, not just IT agility, but TIBCO remains wedded to IT-centered value propositions. TIBCO has features that deliver on core BPM values like cost reduction, cycle time improvement, and quality improvement, but their value prop messaging has moved on to next-generation exotica like predictive intelligence. So from a marketing perspective, BPM appears to be the poor stepchild at TIBCO, but leveraging some unique techology, is succeeding in sales in spite of it.