It’s been an interesting week listening to vendors who are aligned to Microsoft’s strategies and technologies and there’s a definite pattern forming; Visio 2010 and Sharepoint 2010 are providing a springboard platform for BPM vendors to capture interest from a very large and untapped market. I say untapped because the normal go to market strategy is to wrestle users away from Visio and into another solution, offering import integration. But I think they’ve been missing the point. Casewise offer a Visio ‘bridge’, essentially Visio is the front end they provide the repository back end so organisations still get to use the familiarity of the Visio interface with the added benefit of a repository database. Orbus Software have provided this for a number of years too. But both are going to face increasing competition not only from other vendors looking to capitalise on Visio 2010’s new features but also from Microsoft itself.
There is around 4 million users of Visio who are ‘process focused’ according to research, that’s a large user base to target. On top of this there’s the significant investment in process mapping already documented using Visio in it’s various incarnations. Why would you want to spend time either remodelling or importing swathes of saved files into another tool ?
Visio 2010 Premium has some very nice new features, such as self healing connectors, auto alignment of shapes and automatic BPMN validation. You can now switch between horizontal and vertical process views and even the pages are self healing (ie, before you were restricted by drawing canvas size, now it automatically adjusts as you increase the size of your process model)
Moving onto Sharepoint 2010 and there’s now tight integration with Visio. Visio will now publish to Sharepoint and you can create a pseudo process repository in a more robust fashion, email process maps and share from the one platform. This presents some interesting question: If you have Visio and Sharepoint already and your BPM maturity is low then why invest significant amounts of money in expensive solutions when upgrading to the 2010 releases could provide you with what you need ?
This could prove a hurdle for vendors targeting organisations with Microsoft platforms and licences already installed looking for a low cost entry into the BPM space. But it could also provide an opportunity for those leveraging those technologies as part of their product strategy in the next 2 years to grab pickings from a very large market.
Global360, K2, Orbus, Singularity….even Microsoft itself…..are you listening ?