Miguel Valdés-Faura, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder is leading BonitaSoft to achieve its mission: to bring to the market a fully functional Open Source BPM solution. Miguel is the co-founder of Bonita project, created in 2001, with the vision that BPM would become mainstream in every company’s IT portfolio. Prior to BonitaSoft, Miguel was leading BPM R&D, pre-sales and support activity for Bull. He brings to BonitaSoft a strong knowledge of open source communities and open source business models.
Miguel holds a degree in Computer Science from the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (Spain) and a Master’s degree from Nancy and Metz Universities (France).
BPM seems to be very high on the enterprise radar this year following the economic difficulties of 2009. Do you believe it will deliver the promise of efficiency and tighter process control CIO, CTO and COO’s are looking for?
It will deliver the promise if both vendors and customers manage to converge during the “process” of deploying new BPM applications. The market is already evangelized about benefits of using BPM methodologies and technologies but there are still a couple of things that needs to be aligned:
From a vendor perspective, BPM solutions have to be easily adaptable to any customer targeted architecture and to any BPM project type, meaning BPM technologies have to be non-intrusive to the customer information system.
Vendors have also to provide added value services in order to help customers to avoid most of the problems encountered when implementing a BPM solution by for example providing the blueprints to use a particular feature in a specific situation.
From a customer point of view, a key topic would be the selection of the project team members involved in a BPM deployment, depending on the size, the nature and the complexity of the project. A successful implementation will require not only having the right business and technical guys involved but also keeping in mind end users requirements… otherwise the project is bound to fail.
At BonitaSoft we work hard to provide a really easy to use BPM solution that can be deployed in any technical environment and we work with our customers to help them to secure their projects.
What does BPM mean for Bonitasoft ?
BPM is all about processes… processes are everywhere, in every organization. Filing and approval of expense reports; proposal creation and submission; customer complaints management; new staff recruitment; employee induction; sales management – all of these are processes.
BPM for BonitaSoft is a means of defining and managing what happens, from beginning to end, in a “business process”. A business process is any sequence of activities of interest to an organization
We see Business Process Management technologies as a key masterpiece for project teams in organizations. Through BPM technologies, they should be able to easily build and maintain process based applications.
BPM technologies are also a way to provide end users with straightforward applications, which allow them to perform their daily activities more efficiently.
At the last count on my vendor list there are over 70 BPM-BPA players in the market with a good mix of commercial and open source solutions. What made you decide to launch in such a crowded market ?
Most of the BPM vendors on the list are proprietary vendors. Those companies are providing solutions focused on a small portion of the market: large-scale BPM or mission critical deployments. Their approach is generally top-down and targets major projects within Information Systems with expensive and complex solutions.
BonitaSoft’s strategy is to break away from the principles that have shaped the market for BPM solutions to date – by offering a complete and fully Open Source solution to rapidly implement BPM applications for all sizes of organizations and all types of projects, even small ones (that is, a bottom-up approach).
BonitaSoft’s mission is to democratize BPM, making it easy to use and ready to be deployed almost anywhere. Our aim is to deliver so simple and powerful solutions that a project team can develop a process and make it available to various levels of users in just one day. The second part of democratization is to provide this power and operational effectiveness at a very low cost.
How do you see open source products competing with their proprietary cousins ? What can Bonitasoft do to keep ahead of the competition ?
Proprietary BPM solutions not only demand a steep initial investment; they also often require significant resources to manage implementation and on-going operation and are not suited for small or medium projects, even in large organizations.
With an open source strategy, a vendor becomes global immediately compared to proprietary vendors. A successful open source strategy has to align the product, the community of users and contributors, partners and the right business model that will seduce customers.
BonitaSoft aims for mass dissemination of Bonita in businesses and organizations. The low cost of widely implementing BonitaSoft solutions leads firms to raise questions about those very expensive licenses imposed by the competition, both for first purchase and for version changes. With BonitaSoft, customers pay only for the software maintenance and support.
With BonitaSoft, customers actually try the solution for free (as a whole not only one piece of puzzle!) before adopting it and buying anything. This allows “total transparency” and it’s clearly the opposite of the proprietary software model.
The Open Source model offers BonitaSoft’s customers guaranteed sustainability of their management solution for business processes. With Open Source, their investments are no longer subject to the vagaries of the strategic directions of proprietary vendors.
You guys are fairly active on the social media scene, has this helped raise awareness for the company ?
Social media marketing is crucial for BonitaSoft and is part of the BPM democratization process. Actually it is a great complement to the traditional communication channels that we are also leveraging. Social media communication allows us to target a new generation of users who want to be updated on BonitaSoft in real time, with both company and technology news.
As an open source company, social media technologies helps us to communicate with our community of users, contributors, partners and even customers in a more efficient way. Our community feels really comfortable with the use of social media, they have adopted it on a day-to-day basi
s for both business and personal purposes so it’s their natural way to keep invo
s for both business and personal purposes so it’s their natural way to keep invo
lved with us, and we love that!
We are even now mixing traditional community tools such forums, bug trackers and so on with social media technologies like twitter, for instance our community forum is synchronized with a dedicated twitter account that allows users to keep updated on new posts on the forum or new bugs in real time.
I noticed that there’s already a link to Facebook from the solution, do you see integration with social and collaborative networks as a key component for BPM over the next 2 years and what direction do you see it taking if so ?
Yes there are. BPM is all about processes but is also all about collaboration. As social media technologies evolve allowing a better collaboration and communication between users, collaborative tools have to evolve as well and BPM technologies will not be an exception.
I see BPM technologies providing a better communication between users during both processes modeling and process execution. This not only means enhancing the user experience interfaces but also better communicating and interacting with social networks at process level.
This is why we decided to add native connectivity to Twitter, Facebook, Google calendar, Picasa… this connectivity helps users to connect their processes and activities with those technologies to build social media related processes or to enhance their existing processes with their social networks information.
How important is the wider community to Bonitasoft both in terms of developer and practitioner input ?
The power of community for BonitaSoft is phenomenal. The community is the essence of the Bonita Open Solution so we put all our efforts and dedication on providing the right tools to communicate with the community, get their feedback and let them contribute and play an active role in the project evolution.
Some examples of community input in bonitasoft.org are questions / answers, help requests, product translations, discussions about desired features, feedback about existing ones and current development and sharing of new features such as connectors.
The information exchanged via the community has dramatically accelerated our go to market, visibility and adoption. Thanks to the community feedback and contributions we extended Bonita Open Solution features set and we managed to create a very robust product in a very short time.
BonitaSoft team has been involved in open source for a while now and there is one thing that we have learned in those years: the more you provide effective means of communication to the community, along with easy-to-use tools to develop new features, the more valuable the contributions and the wider the distribution it will get.
As said, the community is also a valuable global distribution channel for BonitaSoft, so this is why it is so important for us to encourage its international growth.
With a few vendors picking up on the iPhone success and launching BPM focused apps do you see an increase in BPM becoming a mobile solution ?
BPM on the mobile is also part of the BPM democratization process. Nowadays people already use a lot of mobile applications even if most of them are not yet true business applications.
Business applications adoption on the mobile is coming and the number of those applications is going to increase over the next years. There are a number of monitoring and analytics applications that can already be implemented and used in production on a mobile device for various businesses.
As far as process modeling is concerned, I don’t think neither users nor phone devices are ready for that but I see a lot of opportunities on the process execution. A number of dedicated process based solutions could be developed and run on mobile devices: human resources, transportation, banking, insurance, sales…
At BonitaSoft, I can tell you that we are ready to move on that direction. For example, our BPM portal (called Bonita User Experience) has been designed and implemented to be used as an email application; so the move from the current version to the mobile world (i.e an iPhone application) is going to be really transparent an natural for our users.
Now that some of the big players have concluded a wave of M&A activity do you forsee any further mergers happening this year and are they a positive or a negative for the industry ?
Vendors consolidation is quite normal in a mature and crowded market such BPM. There are a lot of proprietary players that have been in the game for many years and which have become strategic targets for major companies.
I foresee mergers and acquisitions to continue in the next years not only from big players but also from companies playing in related domains such SOA, ECM, Portal, MDM…
Determining whether this is good or bad for the industry is not obvious. A massive consolidation of vendors is certainly good for big vendors – but not for customers. Greater consolidation means less choice for customers and will result in big vendors continuing to apply premium prices for their solutions and this is definitely not good for the BPM adoption in organizations.
The good news about consolidation in a market such BPM is that this gives a lot of opportunities to newcomers and challengers…
Finally, what next for Miguel Valdes Faura ?
My main concern is to drive BonitaSoft towards achieving its mission of democratizing BPM. I’m convinced that we are pushing on the right direction with our product, community and open source business model.
I’ll not sleep easy until we achieve this objective J. After that I would have plenty of time to think about my next challenge!