I had an interesting catch-up with business process management (BPM) firm Lombardi recently — to be precise, the firm’s senior director of marketing, Wayne Snell.
He said he had read my recent blog that broke the news of a beta launch of a new new on-demand BPM offering from Cordys, but wanted to point out that Lombardi has had an on-demand BPM tool for some time…[ click Continue Reading for more on this entry…]
……Lombardi’s on-demand tool is called Blueprint, and it’s a free download. You can do all sorts of BPM-related wizardry with the free version, but you need to buy a professional license if you want to import or export process diagrams or Visio documents, or indeed export the models to a business process management system (BPMS).
Even the professional edition though lacks some of the bells and whistles that customers would get if they were to buy Lombardi’s client-server Teamworks BPMS. So what sort of customers would opt for Blueprint in the first place?
“Conversations about business process management start long before [the end user] ever comes to us,” said Snell. “Users might be two years into their investigations [of BPM] before they ever think of actually buying a BPMS. So Blueprint gives those users some early experience of process modeling without having to make a large up-front investment.”
“Admittedly, we obviously hope that some of those users will eventually buy a BPMS, and that of course might not be Teamworks as and when they do. But because we are able to offer integration to Teamworks out of the box, we hope many will stay in the Lombardi universe,” said Snell.
So how has the strategy worked for Lombardi so far? “We don’t put detailed metrics on it but I can say that 10% of our new customers in the latest quarter were moving up from the free edition of Blueprint,” said Snell. “Blueprint has also enabled us to sign up customers in countries where we are not physically present.”
Snell claimed that Lombardi competes most often in the BPM space with IBM, Tibco, BEA, Saviion and Appian. “We don’t see Metastorm as much,” said Snell, “which I think is because they are mostly doing .NET, although their Commercequest buy did give them Java too.”
Snell says Lombardi’s differentiator against all of this competition is partly that it is strong in what he calls “cross-boundary BPM”, whereas most rivals are helping companies with what he describes as “internal BPM”.
“Not a lot of companies are doing BPM across boundaries,” says Snell. “Most companies do start with something inside the firewall. But many of our customers are thinking across the firewall too. Pfizer uses our technology in their Irish operations, using BPM to augment their global communications. For example they have used BPM rules to govern sales commission. So for instance a salesperson might lose the commission if the customer doesn’t pay within 60 days.”
“But the have taken BPM even further,” says Snell. “There are different drug regulations in the UK, US and Hungary, for instance, and they use our technology to interface between them.”
Snell said another example of this ‘cross boundary’ BPM is Hasbro Toys — a big SAP user — which uses Lombardi’s BPM technology to integrate its suppliers into the bid process, so it gets seven on eight bids from different suppliers in order to get the best deal. “The end users of the BPM in this case are other companies,” says Snell.
As for business rules management, Snell says Lombardi’s process server is also its rules engine: “We don’t have to separate products like Pegasystems,” he says.
Compared to Pegasystems and some of the other business rules specialists, however, Snell conceded that Lombardi’s rules capabilities does not extend to forward and backward-chaining — something certain competitors can do using a mixture of artificial intelligence and other techniques. An example of this in practice would be an insurance firm setting rules about what to charge a customer today based on their likelihood of living until they are 70.
“But we think we solve 70% of the things that people need in business rules,” Snell said. “Also, many of our customers have a rules engine already that we can work alongside. We partner with Ilog and Fair Isaac, for example.”
Snell said Lombardi, which is privately held, makes between $50m and $100m per annum and is profitable. He said the firm has “investigated” the capital markets with regards an IPO but decided it was “not a good time to bring the company out.” That’s not what rival Metastorm decided: it’s gearing up for an IPO as we speak.