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……