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Right before my vacation I went for three days to my first BPM Think Tank conference in Burlingame and was impressed by the quality of the conference for Business Process Professionals. I realized that there were a few key take aways that I should share with the community.

* The acronym BPM is used by many and creates a lot of confusion if not spelled out. It is better to spell it out when discussing BPM. For some people BPM is Business Process Management, for some it is Business Process Modeling and for some it is Business Process Management Systems.

( BPM for me is Process Management and is a management philosophy that focusses on organizing business around business process centric approaches, underlying there are systems that enable those processes that can lead to cost reduction or innovation.)

Paul Harmon, accredited writer and thought leader in the BP world kicked of the conference and gave a very crisp overview of how he thought Standards ( which OMG think tank is all about) are an essential role for the success of the new process centric movement happening. he also explained that standards will be essential for the successful implementation of BPM Systems.

He also showed that there are still many (implementatoin level) standards and that we are a ways away from unifying these. ( BPEL, WMC, XDPL, UML Activtiy Diagrams, Zachman, MDA, TOGAF, Production Rules, ARIS ) But to help our customers we would need to come together to unify more.

On the other hand business people do not necessarily like standards. They like to think of themselves as rather unique. IT people like standardization, because it helps to optimize.

The good thing is that SAP is doing their fair part in this effort and participated in drafting the BPMN 2.0 RFP ( see David Frankel’s blog: BPMN 2.0 ) and are implementing it. As I sat on the vendor panel it looks that many of the vendors ( Oracle, BEA, Microsoft, Lombardi ) seem to be in agreement that standards, In the end standards will especially help to connect between different platforms and will play an important role in creating value with BPM systems.

This was merely one of my observations. Another one was that BPM is a very alive topic nowadays in corporations. Companies seem to have lowered their focus on merely cost cutting and resource cutting and are looking nowadays more into process innovation and optimization.

Business People seem to want to take more ownership of information assests, taking more active control, means that systems will need to enable this shift in needs and mindset. SOA seems to be the answer but people still seem to struggle with defining the questions that leads to SOA.

I myself am a firm believer that eSOA and Business Process Platforms are the best way for companies to move forward, however I would personally start with a small project to show value and then move it up as a division projects and eventually make it an enterprise project. This way you avoid risk, learn from mistakes, and celebrate successes faster ( knowingly that his how we started with the BPX community as well ( more a grass roots approach)).

I had also the opportunity to interact with Forrester analysts Colin Teubner and Randy Heffner and they stated a few interesting points.

  • The new model for enterprise apps is process centric instead of functional silos
  • More BPM impact needs deeper business modeling
  • BI features are and will be crucial in the BPM life cycle

What I also realized and was told by many at the conference is that our BPX community is ideally positioned for this new wave. I think our community can really help business professionals, learn about this new world, tell their experiences,  challenges they face, help each other succeed, extend their network beyond their normal enterprise faster and really do bridge the gap between business and IT that still exists today.

I promise to write some more in the coming weeks. However I would strongly recommend people to keep tap on what is happening in the standards world if they are a business process professional.

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