The Forrester Blog For Enterprise Architecture Professionals
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Recently I took a look at an EA-maturity-model-cum-roadmap from Leo de Sousa, Manager of Business Application Services and Enterprise Architecture at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (click to read Leo’s blog on EA CMM). To my surprise, I liked it. Why was I surprised?
I have never liked EA maturity models. Yes, tracking progress is important. And yes, there should be a consensus about what characterizes a mature EA practice. But I don’t like how they would ostensibly be used to compare one enterprise with another, a la benchmarks. Perhaps I was soured on them by seeing them used as a governance technique in US federal agencies.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) required agencies to assess themselves against a standardized maturity model, with progressive hurdles in successive years. Federal agencies, accustomed as they are to all sorts of oversight and compliance mandates, know how to pass compliance audits. Did you ever wonder how (then) Popkin System Architect got so popular in the federal government? An EA tool was required to demonstrate a certain level of EA maturity and System Architect was the lowest-cost offering at the time (I’m sure there are other reasons as well). Behavior was around letter-of-the-law compliance, and it seldom catalyzed getting with the spirit. Even when Dick Burk at OMB introduced a clever workaround in a second version of the model — you could leapfrog to a level 4 if you showed actual business benefits, regardless of what other checklist items you missed — agencies simply marched through the maturity level checklists getting the requisite items done. The scores were good, but in my opinion they overstated the degree to which EA was ingrained in the culture of the agencies.
Kofax announced yesterday the acquisition of 170 Systems. Why did Kofax do this? Well, good acquisitions have a mixture of tactical and strategic complements — and this one is long on both. With over 800 invoice processing customer using Kofax for front-end capture they now can add invoice workflow — exception management and payment for full invoice processing solutions. Add in the purchase of a Swedish EIPP provider 18 months ago and this indeed covers all bases. The 170 Systems customer base alone is a gold mine: 40% have no automated capture. There’s plenty here to give ReadSoft a run for their money.
But, really this acquisition is about moving up the value chain. Customers are looking for more complete solutions, and this deal underscores the trend by the larger capture, imaging, and ECM companies to move further into the business process applications markets.
In addition, Kofax gains better visibility into the economic buyer, and picks up a solutions-oriented sales force and the platform to grow their top resellers into top-notch integrators of supply chain and ERP financial deals, not to mention 170’s existing partners.
Also, they are primed to go into to other un-tamed processes, such as sales order processing and contract management. All in all, it’s thumbs up for this bold move by a company that has historically been timid about venturing from its paper roots.
When you spend time taking a sober look at a market's maturity - like we did with our recently published BPM Tech Radar report - some technologies make you yawn, but then other technologies give you goose bumps. The primary purpose of the BPM Tech Radar was to map the maturity of the 15 most critical technologies that make up the BPM landscape. This included tried and true technologies such as workflow, process modeling, document imaging, and business rules; in addition to bleeding and leading edge technologies such as process data management and process mashups.
I just finished a Webinar on Medical Information Management sponsored by Kofax, a process automation firm whose core expertise is paper capture and elimination. It is available on their site www.kofax.com. We are entering an interesting period here, and may experience a tech bubble in medical or at least a somewhat less desperate Y2K experience. Clearly there is energy and investment around medical information management that increases each month, and that has not been seen in a quite a while. Concepts like “results-based medicine” that will open up a new market for analytics in medicine — see my colleague Boris Evelson’s open letter for Information Week.
An early 2009 Forrester interview with the CIO of a retail firm produced a great quote: “Our business execs have two views of IT: a big budget blob or their BlackBerry.” Now, maybe those retail business execs think of IT as a strategic budget blob, but it’s more likely that’s a shop with alignment issues. If that CIO’s business execs don’t see technology as enabling anything more than mobile email, then they really don’t get the power of technology and they’re not going to see the value in the IT department.
But alignment issues are not limited to shops where business execs don’t see value in technology. The whole IT-to-BT transition is about how the business is enthusiastically embracing technology – they’re just not bothering to go through the IT department to find it, deploy it, or use it. Today’s alignment problem is more about the gap between the business’s valuation of technology’s potential and their valuation of the IT department’s ability to deliver on that potential.
Process mashups combine presentation data and processes into a single application for business users. Process mashups are meant to empower the business by making use of the data that is already available within the business. In this podcast Clay speaks about how companies are using process mashups and the emerging trends within the space.
Only two years after acquiring webMethods, Software AG shakes up the BPM world once again with its announcement to acquire leading process modeling vendor IDS Scheer. Since the webMethods acquisition, Software AG has continued to push the envelope on combining solid human-centric and integration-centric capabilities under a single vendor roof. With the IDS Scheer acquisition, Software AG is sending an indisputable and clear message to the market: "We are a major BPM player, hear us roar!" Or should it be, "hear us bark?"
In many ways IDS Scheer has more brand cachet in business process improvement circles than Software AG, leading us to wonder: Is the tail wagging the dog on this deal? Is Software AG buying IDS Scheer, or is IDS Scheer really buying Software AG? The truth is that Software AG is buying a global brand that has the potential to completely remake Software AG into a process improvement powerhouse.