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Posted by Clay Richardson on May 8, 2009
"Big Blue." That's the image of IBM I grew up with - bloated, rigid, complicated. Come on, you've heard the joke, "How many IBM engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb? More than you can afford!" And I've seen this first hand in the past with IBM Websphere Process Server (WPS).
In 2006, I supported a major enterprise BPM evaluation for a large federal agency. Several vendors were brought in, including Big Blue, to demo BPM functionality. I have to admit, the functionality and depth presented by IBM the federal customer - they literally shook their heads with disappointment. At that time, IBM was force fitting the WPS product to be a human-centric BPM platform. I described it as a "headless horseman" - nice integration functionality under the covers, but missing the required interface for users to interact with their tasks and workflow. The end result of the evaluation: IBM lived up to its Big Blue image and the agency decided that Big Blue was not the right platform for their fledgling BPM initiative (which would go on to become a multi-million dollar, multi-year BPM program).
Fast forward three years later. I think IBM got the message. Somehow they transformed themselves from "Goliath" to "David." IBM is placing very large bets on WPS leading them to the BPM promised land and has invested heavily to make the platform more business-friendly and accessible. This might not seem a big deal for those of us in the BPM world - we've seen plenty of cool tools from vendors that are geared towards the business. But this is IBM; a company not known for making cool things. Is the mainframe cool? Is DB2 cool? Maybe my dad still thinks those technologies are cool, but the current generation of Web 2.0 whiz kids don't. Actually, I just yawned while typing "DB2" (seriously).
Why It Matters
IBM has upped its game in BPM and is becoming a stronger human-centric BPM contender. Business Space and BPM BlueWorks paint a new face on IBM that will attract more business-oriented customers that we're frightened by the previous generation of tech-heavy IBM BPM offerings.
I want to hear from you. Let me know what you think about IBM's new BPM offerings. Do you think these new offerings will help IBM develop a more business-friendly image? Do these products change your impression of IBM? Post your thoughts in the comment section or feel free to shoot me a quick e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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