Why Microsoft will finally enter the BPM arena in two years and change the dynamics forever

I recently wrote about how Visio 2010 and Sharepoint 2010 implemented together could allow an enterprise to deploy a basic repository based BPM with some rudimentary workflow wrapped around it. There were some arguments against this notion, cost and coding for Workflow Foundation being the main two that cropped up. However let’s re-examine the claim in a wider context and make a wild prediction: in 2 years Microsoft will step into the fray and change the market dynamics forever and here’s how.

Sharepoint and Visio 2010 are being positioned as quick ways to introduce BPM by vendors in this space, and have been to an extent for a few years with Sharepoint 2003. Now with the 2010 flavours being far more ‘flexible’ and feature proof they are stepping up the game by tightly interweaving their native products with the Microsoft products. Furthermore, they share the same .NET framework with a couple notably moving from other platforms like Java to .NET now. I’ll go so far as to mention that AgilePoint, Global 360, Singularity, Nintex, PNMSoft, Metastorm and K2 are some of the main players directly in this space, already accredited Microsoft Partners and already moving with the new 2010 products.

So what does this mean exactly for Microsoft, BPM and my prediction ? Quickly and simply, it means that in two years Microsoft will flex its mighty budget and buy one of these solutions outright. And why not, all the hard work has been done for them, they can then just jump into the centre of the ring once and for all. It’s like a sword and sandal’s epic; Clash of the Titans, Ben Hur, Gladiator, take your pick, it’s (muscle) bound to happen. And when it does the likes of IBM and Oracle will start to shake because it will no longer be a one-sided contest.

But there’s two more points I’d like to make. Firstly with the social convergence of BPM and CRM, Microsoft already has Dynamics as their CRM platform and it just takes a bit more savvy and foresight for those in this space to start to work it into their own product path. And secondly, once Microsoft makes a play what does this truly mean for those vendors left behind in the aftermath and now seemingly competing directly in Microsoft’s space ?

Will the last gladiator close the gate on the way out of the arena……

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5 responses to “Why Microsoft will finally enter the BPM arena in two years and change the dynamics forever

  1. WF is a key component of the Microsoft BPM strategy and is used in SharePoint and the Dynamics range of products to drive the workflow in terms of their product roadmaps.WF4 that shipped recently with .NET4 dropped support for the State Machine and only has structured workflow. Interesting development in the WF roadmap.

  2. Theo, I think there is a huge difference between a vendor having mass market BPM tooling and understanding BPM the discipline. Undoubtedly Microsoft will ramp up in BPM as it becomes more of a mass market opportunity, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft will be positioned to tackle complex processes like dynamic case management or enterprise-class cross-functional processes–or provide the professional services to support BPM the discipline, Lean and other methdologies and approaches. Yet, the BPM vendors need to learn from the enterprise content management vendors’ experience–Sharepoint steamrollered them. Absolutely flattened them. As Microsoft increasingly realizes "there’s gold in them thar BPM hills," and pursues BPM more aggressively through VIsio, Sharepoint and its partners–the BPM suites vendors must double down on moving the boundaries for BPM beyond pure process–by adding business performance management capabilties, predictive analytics, process discovery, social/collaborative BPM, etc.Here’s my opinion: While Microsoft could always make a BPM acquisition or even two, I think it will opt for building out a BPM suite. If I were at Microsoft, that’s the path I’d take.

  3. As other sectors, imo, microsoft is very good poker player. He will wait an adequate "babelization" of the market (many vendors with indequate mature support to open standard) to propose MS standard solution to win all the market …As external spectactor, MS .have an global and cross-systems of the BPM ecosystems.

  4. Theo, I’m not convinced MS would do that. Even if it does, it may acquire a tool from a development platform standpoint – probably as rapid app dev strategy? But, there are enough doubts if MS would really play in the BPM market – I mean the true BPM way.Also, acquisition is only the first tiny step in the market penetration and building the right capability. IBM, for instance has multiple tool sets in it’s kitty. It has not been able to change it’s mindset for a long time. MS has traditionally operated in mass markets and not "directly" in the business apps.Now, Visio and Sharepoint are a different story altogether. Process modeling, as commoditized business might be the next logical step for MS (may be a little late?), but we cannot call that a BPM suite.- Ashishhttp://ashisbhagwat.wordpress.com

  5. Theo, I like your thought process – but I can relay a funny story 🙂 About 7+ years ago I joined a little BPM software company. I had a couple friends at Microsoft working with WFW and Biztalk. They told me they were going to put all the BPM vendors out of business when they released the next version…

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