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November 13, 2005

Deriving value from IT will hinge on building process-driven solutions from existing IT investments

New research predicts that deriving value from IT over the next 30 years will not depend on providing systems for new areas of the business, or on finding the next 'killer' application, but on the ability to build process-driven solutions from existing IT investments, which better fit the needs of users and the strategic objectives of the organization.

By CBR Staff Writer

According to the research, by Butler Group, organizations that continue to view integration as an afterthought will remain mired in the frustrations of under-performing IT projects and investments. By contrast, understanding the potential of business process management (BPM), and approaching integration from a business perspective can provide the foundations for genuine business transformation.

Automation, leading to cost reduction, has been the dominant use of IT for the past 30 years. However this period has also left organizations with two huge challenges: firstly, how to move beyond automation to deliver incremental value from IT systems. Secondly, how to unite the cluttered diversity of applications and systems that has resulted from three decades of tactical, unsystematic, and sometimes ill-considered IT investments.

A process-led approach to integrating the diversity of business systems, trading networks, people, and partners that exists in every organization looks like the right way forward. A process-led approach is the most practical alternative to the large-scale technical integration projects that have come to grief all too often in the recent past, providing as it does, a level of abstraction from the underlying interfaces (both technical and human), and the capability to relate these integration efforts to the problems that business managers understand.

Enterprises investing in BPM solutions still face difficult choices in a market that has not yet crystallized into a clear view of its forward direction. BPM capabilities are provided by a diverse range of vendors offering different types of solution, ranging from the major application platform providers, integration specialists, pure play business process specialists, companies focusing on the intersection of process and content management, and the process capabilities that are embedded into enterprise applications.

The latest news that Autonomy is to acquire Verity has an impact beyond the obvious market sector of search and content discovery. Verity had recently repositioned itself to sit in the BPM space – seeing a great deal of value in tying together content and BPM, with the emphasis on the BPM aspect. Autonomy will now leverage this to also move into the BPM space, and this appears to have been the prime driver for the acquisition, as it allows Autonomy to play against the leading enterprise content management (ECM) vendors.

Clearly, on the back of the Metastorm acquisition of CommerceQuest, this latest announcement indicates strong movement within the BPM market that still has some way to go.

Moreover, as industry moves forward to the new loosely-coupled infrastructure models, there will be further consolidation within both BPM and integration – the two will become synonymous within the next two to three years. Pure-play vendors are under threat in a market which is set to consolidate further.

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A successful strategy will incorporate different styles of integration and require a range of supporting tools which vary from one enterprise to the next. As such, vendors in the BPM solutions space should not be beholden to a particular organization’s agenda, or method of process management. Instead, they should provide an open platform that can encompass any process element, style or interface.

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