Why some research analysts are like Samsung and restrict industry innovation and growth

The bongo drums are banging loudly now across the conference circuit and already the survey papers are out asking for topics for next year. Adam Deane’s recent blog post covers some of the topics that next year’s events may be focusing on but while some areas have become the staple diet (BPM investment, value, pain) it’s the latter questions on the survey that raise some concerns for me.

Your name’s not down, you’re not coming in

Like a set of aging overweight heavies outside a nightclub, we are lead to believe that there are only 17 valid BPM vendors in the industry worth talking about. Really ? I mean, seriously really ?

Appian, Cordys, DST, IBM, iGrafx, Kofax, Mega, Mood International (Salamander), OpenText, Oracle, Pegasystems, PNMSoft, SAP, Software AG, Tibco, Vitria, Whitestein: Congratulations on making the most exclusive VIP club on the Planet BPM, hope you enjoy the bongo drum and bass DJ while the likes of Ultimus, Bonitasoft, BP Logix, ISIS Papyrus, BusinessPort, Casewise, AuraPortal, Progress, Questetra, Business Optix, Orbus and countless others, large and small, commercial and open source, wait in the rain outside. This is NOT what the industry needs, exclusivity. Half of this list don’t even engage on a social level and aren’t ever heard and some are more application/ enterprise development platforms than BPM (as we define it). While Whitestein argues that they make the list on merit (applauded if true) it’s a well known and hushed up topic about why the same names make the list in the first place. And just limiting the industry to 17 entrants on a survey sends out that kind of message and perception to all potential parties who are interested in BPM: if you don’t see the name on this list, don’t shortlist them. I implemented a complete left-fielder at a UK University who didn’t make the original analyst-fed list because they fit the requirements and maturity perfectly not because they chucked a bung to appear on a report.

Topics and technologies that don’t tally

Look at the list on Questions 12 and 16. If this were a menu at a restaurant Gordon Ramsay would be tearing strips into the chef right now in Kitchen Nightmares. Is it any wonder that people who come to BPM looking for solutions either think it’s the panacea they’re looking for or glaze over in sheer bewilderment ? It covers everything according to this list. The only thing missing are the breaded mushrooms and irish coffee. Plus I find it hard to believe that all these topics and technologies are served up on a silver dish by just 17 Michelin star vendors.

So the net; net result is ?

What we have here is restriction of choice of where you should look to for a BPM solution. This kind of restriction is both from a client and vendor perspective. The client perceives there is a limited and validated choice and should approach with caution when looking outside of the list. Vendors, both established and new, think that their software and services should emulate closely those who appear on the list because innovation and being different means risk to their business model and lack of recognition.

It’s time the industry grew a pair and started to stand up for itself. If you’re proud of your technology don’t wait or pay to appear on a report. In an increasingly social world there are far better, more cost effective, creative and influential ways to become known.

Innovation does not equal risk. Innovation means differentiation. If Apple can overtake Microsoft in 5 years purely on the strength of it’s iDevices then surely that’s an example of where innovation can lead.

And I doubt Apple ever really bothered to pay to appear on a report to do it.

Footnote: Forrester announced via Twitter they’re looking at the Top 10 vendors for their next Wave report. 10……now you tell me if that’s an accurate reflection of the industry.

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8 responses to “Why some research analysts are like Samsung and restrict industry innovation and growth

  1. “Everything popular is wrong”-Oscar Wilde
    If more companies took that to heart instead of settling for the most popular solution, innovation would take off.

  2. Left out in the rain? Ha – being damp won’t stop us.

    I’m not too surprised we’re not invited in. Gartner’s eye seems to be focused on “Intelligent BPM” just now (http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/ebizq_forum/2012/02/is-intelligent-bpm-ibpm-actually-something-new-and-useful-for-bpm-or-just-more-hype.php#comment-50020), and BonitaSoft is focused on getting more and more enterprises of all sizes on board with BPM.

    Intelligence is in the “i” of the beholder.

    • I-ntelligence and I-nnovation are not for the I-ndustry analysts to control (too many ‘i’s there lol)

      Thanks for commenting, nice to know some aren’t afraid to voice opinion.

  3. Hi Theo:
    This holidays I read two different books that are somehow related with your post: to big to fail, the story behind the collapse of wall Street (other that is pretty interesting is the last 72 hours of Bear Stearns) and Steve Jobs. The former is all about big companies that use its influence to dominate the market, the analysts and keep them entertained and use and aura to open doors in clients to serve their services even if people don’t have the brightness to do deliver amazing results. For those who are used to interact with big companies, have experienced that on top of it resumes to the size of the muscle. The last book is about the importance of bringing innovation to the extreme, breaking the barriers, pushing it to the limit in a market dominated by a 180 degree business model (Microsoft with a proven track record of anti trust policies).
    What is the lesson for companies that are innovative and have all the influences and prescriptions against? Taking a road delivering much better products and services in a integrated way. I mean it’s not enough to design and innovative product, is necessary how to combine it with different and future approaches to convince decision makers to buy it, because more than resolving the problem, no one thought it before. Thus is delivering today what the others will do tomorrow. Otherwise big companies will put you in the shadow just because they are tall and big.
    Regards
    Alberto.

  4. In the past some independent community movements failed to stand up, but these days with big event organizers struggling with attendees (this is being confirmed by different voices), maybe because people are stressed with the contents (here we go again with the lack of innovation, or should I say, I’ve seen that powerpoint 10 years ago), there is a window of opportunity for the first time to rise an truly independent event, where the community can be in contact in unbiased and innovation thinking and products. This is a challenge that must be taken and roll out.

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