John has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years. During that time he has worked directly for, and with, a number of the leading companies in the oil, banking and customer service industries in both Europe and North America. John has held a wide range of positions during this time but his main subject of focus has been the automation of complex business and computer-systems tasks and processes through the application of software. He had early experience of CASE tools and 4 GL’s but always felt there was a better way of using software to improve the design and construction of business solutions.
John has spent more than ten years working with Pegasystems, a leader in the application of rule-driven business process management, and currently holds the position of Technical Director in which he has overall responsibility for pre-sales support across Europe and is the company’s senior technology architect and ‘evangelist’. The majority of his time is spent working with prospects, customers and partners to ensure the Pegasystems technology is both a good technical and business fit within their organisations and systems architectures.
John’s passion is bringing business and IT together and he is a regular speaker and contributor of articles on the subject of business process management.
2009 was seen as a fairly turbulent for most but towards the end year many kicked off major change programs focused on process transformation. How do you expect 2010 will unfold for the BPM industry generally and for BPM Vendors ?
I would agree with both points and this reflects in a record year of sales (and revenue) for Pegasystems. Our view is that many companies stepped-back from software investments in 2008 in the US and took the time to plan significant transformations as preparation for an economic up-turn which has started during 2009. It seems the UK and Europe are 9 – 12 months behind the US cycle and we are seeing the results of similar planning exercises in the guise of RFI’s and RFP’s in recent months. Interestingly, a good proportion of these RFx’s are aimed at customer sales and servicing transformations.
Do you expect clients to alter their buying criteria as a result of the downturn and concentrate on initial cost first rather than ROI or indeed the need for BPM itself to support strategy ?
The criteria are already changing. Eighteen months ago buyers were looking at the ROI on single BPM projects, now they are looking at TCO for much broader deployments. Unfortunately many buyers are using a traditional waterfall methodology approach listing catalogues of high-level requirements and asking vendors to price the license and deployment costs associated with potentially multi-year programs. This approach makes it difficult to price in the huge development reductions that some BPM solutions offer through very high levels of process reuse. A RUP or Scrum methodology sampling several profiles of requirements and then doing the sums would be more effective. This is especially true with BPM products that are able to size projects in this way – after all, sampling requirements and producing an estimated project sizing is just a process; right?
What’s Pega’s definition and philosophy for BPM ?
A Business Process is a set of coordinated tasks and activities, conducted by both people and software that will lead to accomplishing a specific business goal. Some processes are entirely people based, some entirely software based and some include both constituents. Business Process Management is generally recognised as the software that enables business processes to be defined, managed and/or measured. A Business Process Management Suite is considered to offer all of the technology required to manage a complete process lifecycle from process capture or discovery, through cataloguing the requirements and planning development phases, into process construction, testing and deployment. Tools also provide measurement reporting and analysis capabilities to enable change to be applied in a controlled manner. I believe that no BPMS is complete without an embedded rule engine to drive logic and decision support as an integral facet of business processes.
In summary, a BPMS provides an Integrated Development Environment for process-centric applications that include business rules functionality.
With a growing number of Cloud enable BPM tools and services coming onto the market how do you see Pega staying ahead of the game ?
We are already there. We are actively promoting our BPM technology on the cloud. We have a partnership with Amazon to use their Elastic Cloud to address all phases of BPM construction, development, testing and production, on Cloud infrastructure. We alreadt have reference customers who have enjoyed huge infrastructure savings and project time, even if they only deployed development on the Cloud. The way we are staying ahead of the game is to have the confidence in our BPM technology to use it as a development tool for the development of the technology itself! Incestuous BPM – no-one else is using their BPM technology to develop their BPM technology!
IDS have released ARIS Express recently, a free version of their ARIS Professional modeling tool. Do you see a growing trend for BPM vendors to release free versions of their higher end products ?
Yes, especially vendors who cannot sell the holistic value of closed-loop BPM development using a single technology. Everything from process capture, design, build testing, deployment, measurement, change, deployment should be based on a joined-up process approach. How can a vendor sell a BPM approach to business solutions if their own products do not follow BPM principles?
Do you see the meteoric rise of the Social Media platform as something vendors should engage with as a development path, marketing purposes only or is it a “watching brief” for now until it matures ?
Yes, we se many ways in which social media technologies are able to integrate with BPM software to create a holistic environment in which developers can communicate and share information freely, organisations can communicate with and take a pulse of customer sentiment and business users can share suggestions and observations with their colleagues and IT partners. We have made significant strides in this area over our last two product releases and expect social media tools to continue to gain prominence in the workplace.
How important is it for vendors to foster their own BPM communities and allow them to interact openly ?
With our philosophy that BPM is a pervasive technology that will, when done well, change the way business does business, we feel it is important to create communities to allow practitioners to share their experiences and best practices. We have created a multi-tier community environment on our corporate website; private space for staff within an organisation to share experiences and best practices with links to Pegasystems product and s
olution information, we have also created line of business commun
olution information, we have also created line of business commun
ities and an open Pega Developer network where our customers, partners and staff can share information.
The mobile platform has taken off and a growing number of vendors are joining the ranks to develop for the Apple, Blackberry and Android platforms. Do you see a future for BPM tools in this area ?
I see BPM as a collaborative technology that works best when people are working together so while mobile access to BPM is essential I’m not so convinced that BPM running on mobile platforms is necessary. Obviously being able to interact with one’s chosen BPM solutions from mobile devices in order to make process change, collaborate on new ideas, interact with a production process or view process output and measures is essential but currently I still see mobile devices as a point of entry into a BPM solution rather than a platform on which to run BPM.
There were two notable acquisitions last year, IBM and Lombardi and SoftwareAG and IDS-Scheer. Do you think there will be more M&A activity in 2010 across the BPM space and do you think this will improve BPM solutions on offer or weaken the market ?
Yes, in fact only today Progress Software announced it has acquired Savvion. This is a reflection of two things; the heat surrounding the BPM market and the realisation that BPM as a solution philosophy is game changing to the world of business. There is no evidence that acquisitions, BPM or otherwise, fundamentally improve solutions. Has the IBM acquisition of Filenet resulted in any sort of improvement to the IBM BPM offering? The market is not necessarily weakened though as new entrants are encouraged by the expanding gaps between the reduced number of vendors. Somewhere out there two guys in a garage are working on the next iteration of BPM. Sure, its tough to break into the software market but it has happened many times before.
What’s the next big step you’d like to see in BPM ?
A sizeable organisation that adopts BPM in the manner described in point 10 below …. Its coming …. And soon! An organisation whose people and processes are as agile to change, compliance and customer demands as a truly BPM centric approach allows. This will position them far ahead of their competitors.
Finally, what next for John Everhard ?
Fame, fortune and retirement as more and more people realise that what I have been saying for the last five years is increasingly achievable – BPM will be at the centre of your enterprise, business will be increasingly enabled to determine their own solution requirements and will take a large piece of the design, construction and operational performance of those solutions and that businesses will be outside-in focussed and working more aggressively to align to their customers demands and take a greater share of their wallets. Actually, I’m not too worried about the fame J
In the short term, I continue to passionately evangelise the value of BPM to large, complex organisations as an alternative to traditional IT solution development which has not significantly changes in 50 years!