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.