Patricio Herrera is Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer for Ekuar Corporation. Mr. Herrera has discovered his passion for entrepreneurship when he joined Fuego Inc. in 1999. During the raise and consolidation of the Company in the BPM booming market, Mr. Herrera has participated strongly not only in the Architectural and Technical aspects of the Product, but also in the Sales and Professional Services units with major success.
After BEA Systems multi-millonaire acquisition of Fuego Inc. in 2006, Mr. Herrera co-founded Ekuar by following his strong innovative and entrepreneur spirit, and his passion for Business Process Management Systems. In addition to founding Ekuar, Mr. Herrera is Co-Founder and Director of BPMspot Inc., the first BPM on the Cloud Company.
Mr. Herrera BPM experience includes managing and developing projects around the globe in a variety of companies from early-stage startups to many Fortune 100 Corporations. Mr. Herrera holds a Software Engineering Degree with Honors from Austral University, Buenos Aires, where he has been a Professor in charge of the Innovation & Enterprise Research Laboratory for over five years.
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 ?
It is true that 2009 has been a tough year for every single market, and we have evidenced that in the BPM Industry too, basically due to a shrink in IT spending in general. However, the impact in our market that we were more concerned about was innovation. Most BPM Vendors, scary about uncertainty, have focused the energy in Services around BPM projects and stopped investing in R&D. In addition to that, several major acquisitions in the market and big players participation have shown a false maturity and reduce investments.
At Ekuar we have tried to do the opposite by putting most of the resources in development again, going back to the roots. BPM Software has been evolving very fast from the early days, and there is still a strong need to keep doing so. We know the industry very well and there is still a lot to do in terms of redefining Business Process Management Systems.
This 2010 has started showing signs of a booming business coming and if there is something we are sure about is that BPM is the very first option in the IT market. Why? The reason is simple, because of the crisis almost every single organization was forced to reduce human resources and adapt internal processes quickly. After this big tsunami what we have are organizations with a lack of order in their processes. In addition to that, the big challenge of surfing the crisis has shown the truly power of BPM. Those organizations with real automated processes were the ones that better adapted to the changes in their businesses. The others, have just realized the true with pain…and now they will be anger to spend their money in process automatization and optimization before start hiring again.
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 ?
In my opinion, clients will point their buying criteria in ROI, even more than before the downturn. And this will happen mainly because the ROI is clearer now than before, therefore BPM investment should be easier to get.
The strategy of most organizations have suffered a major challenge last year, and in many of them the first step will be to review it carefully. Companies have realized that the only strategy that matters in this changing world is dynamism, adapting quickly to the environment. And the only way to achieve this properly is called BPM.
What’s your definition and philosophy towards BPM ?
For me, Business Process Management is the science of changing a structured organization in something liquid, adaptable and flexible. That’s what a company should become after a good BPM adoption, something flexible and unbreakable.
In other words, BPM is the people, not the Processes neither the Activities. Processes and Activities are there because of the people in charge of them. That is why, in my point of view, a good BPM system must be focused in the resources of the organization. When a BPM system targets and achieves to communicate people inside the organization, every single Business Activity and Business Process will happen as a result for sure.
Do you see an eventual convergence between BPM, CRM, ECM and other similar process-centric markets ?
I’ve always seen CRM as a particular way to implement BPM. For some reason, organizations and IT vendors focused before in markets like CRM. Maybe this was because it is was easier to understand and sell, and it show the false impression that the implementation is going to be faster. However if BPM would have been better understood from the beginning, this other methodology shouldn’t be still there. I have plenty of examples of big organizations, with very big installations of CRM systems that are now putting BPM on top of them.
About Enterprise Content Management (ECM), i see the technology inside BPM itself. ECM is a must to have feature of any complete BPM suite. Documents are always related to Business Processes, therefore a good BPM software must come with ECM included, and not just integrate with one from other vendor as an external system.
In my opinion, as long as BPM solutions become easier to use and to implement, everything should converge to it. Unfortunately, only new and young companies will have the pleasure to build everything from scratch just with BPM. Every single mid-size or big company out there already has some king of process-centric software deployed, even if they haven’t heard about BPM yet. And this is a challenge for us, the integration with other solutions that talk a completely different language.
A lot of mention has been made of dynamic and unstructured processes and workflow, what’s your prediction in this area ?
My prediction in this area is the following: Dynamic and unstructured processes are the future of BPM, together with Collaboration and what is better know as Social BPM.
Actually, BPM was born with the idea to convert structured and not automated processes inside organizations into something easily adaptable and automated. Currently, BPM gives the feeling to have something unstructured if you see how quickly your business processes can change, in comparison with the past. However, the ultimate challenge of BPM is to have this automation as well.
Just imagine the power of an organization with processes that can automatically change, adapt to meet better conditions, save costs, suggest improvements and more. It is amazing just thinking about it. I feel that the challenge in this area is in both sides of the wheel. From the BPM vendors side, the inclusion of artificial intelligence together with the continuous investment in R&D has to be made. From the BPM customers side, there is a big challenge in delegating so much power to the Business Processes itself. It is not going to happen soon, but for sure it is going to happen.
I always tell to business owners to think about the next crisis and what are they are going to do differently. The answer is always the same, having good dynamic and unstructured processes is a must for success. If you can’t
adapt faster than your competition, then your game
An article in Forrester talked about turning to the process professionals more in 2010 and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant underwent a makeover in how they approached their analysis last year. Do you still see a need for the kind of high brow research which is perceived to be vendor led/ driven given the rise of independent professional blogs and insight columns ?
I see that the world is changing when it comes to concentration and monopoly of the information. The coming generation, the one that has birth with Facebook, Twitter, Google, and any other social tool out there, is from where the next CIOs are coming. The internet itself is getting much more powerful every single day and it is becoming so alive that there is no way to beat that.
Independent Professional Blogs in BPM will be very soon the number one source of information for IT responsible in every organization. This is basically because is what is happening right now in other areas with the information, people is looking and reading from several sources at the same time, no matter location or social status.
Other incredible thing that happens in the web is that it seems to be self-defending. For example, if you try to write a fake article maybe in wikipedia or even in your own blog, immediately that source is not longer reliable, like what happens with spam. Finally, the solution is in the people and the collaboration among them. That’s the power that Web 2.0 has unleashed. That’s why any single blogger can become a reliable and premium source of information, not only in BPM, but in any other subject.
There’s a shift towards Cloud/ SaaS offerings, Social BPM fever is starting to take hold after a few years in the wilderness and some are venturing into the Mobile space, are these viable roadmaps for vendors to look into or just hype for now ?
Well, this question fits perfectly to us, because Ekuar basically was born with only one objective, to put BPM in the Clouds. That’s our slogan, that’s our mission. BPM must be in the Clouds, it must become the only one PaaS option, and, as a consequence, to offer SaaS solutions as well.
We have several example of customers that can certified that is not hype at all. Organizations are already looking for a BPM solution with Collaborative power. They want the people involve in Process design to communicate strongly in order to optimize the work and the business processes.
Also, end users of any BPM solution, when they are back home they login to Facebook, Twitter and Google. This means that their are very familiar with social tools, so why not to have the same fun in your work when developing Business Processes or Modeling them? It is always the same, Enterprise Software comes from Personal Software at the end. Usability first reaches home and later the enterprises.
Our personal dream is to become the Wall-Mart of the Software, using BPM as a platform to build solutions of any kind. Imagine if you can have one single place where to develop, sell and buy Business Processes from any kind. You could have an organization 100% on the cloud, with not only your email hosted in Amazon or Google, but your Business Processes running online in our place. There is not going to be a particular need to have huge data centers with racks of servers (and millons of dollars invested) when you can move all that to the web. It is pretty much the same revolution that happened with electricity in the begging of the last century, when big organizations began to buy energy from external providers and got rid of their own generators. At the end, data centers are a work around waiting for technology to evolve into cloud computing.
If there was one thing you could tell someone who is just starting out on the BPM journey what would it be ?
I would say that the have to forget about any other IT solution, methodology or software they have used before. They need to think differently when it comes to BPM. They have to think and act as a Business man, and forget all about technical stuff. That is the idea of a good Business Process Management Systems. To be driven by the Business people and no longer to change business because of IT decisions. If you start talking too much about IT acronyms again, then your are going to the wrong path.
What’s the next big thing you would like to see happening in BPM ?
I would love to see current BPM vendors shifting to the Cloud, taking care about users again, like we are doing in Ekuar. Business Process Management Systems requires huge investments to be build and there is a lack of capital right now in the industry that i would like to be growing again, like in the old days. In our case, being a self-financed start-up, we had to manage strongly to never stop innovating and pushing the product roadmap.
Finally, what next for eKuar ?
Well, after several years of self-investment and fundraising, we see both the Product and the Team very consolidated to go worldwide. Even though we managed to have not only an innovative company but also a profitable one already, we want more. The next step for us is to search for venture capitals and grow our organization around the world. We know from our experience that the only way to change the world through an idea is joining forces instead of closing doors. We are confident we have a very good opportunity in a raising market like Social BPM and Cloud Computing and we want to add people to our ship that feels the same passion about BPM as we feel. Our CEO, Karel Becerra Hernandez, has performed incredibly building and running Ekuar for the last years with limited resources therefore i can’t imagine what he could do with more.