On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

When business processes finally become intelligent

Over the past several months I have done a lot of research on the BI market, the trends and the vendor landscape. There is a clear indication that BI solutions are becoming more sophisticated, more intelligent and – more integrated into other applications to enhance the performance of the application supported business processes.

Very recently now, in discussions with BPM vendors like IDS Scheer, HandySoft and many others it became very eminent that from the other side, BPM solutions are moving steadily into the field of Business Intelligence too. The world of BPM and BI solutions are converging to bring intelligent business processes to the market – eventually. However, today we are still some steps away from this picture and the convergence of BPM and BI will likely proceed in smaller steps are outlined in the below BI-BPM convergence model.

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Today several BPM vendors have actively integrated business intelligence capabilities into their solutions. Larger ones like IDS Scheer have developed their own analytics while smaller vendors like HandySoft are using OpenSorce components offered by JasperSoft and other OpenSource BI vendors. The integration offers users new and consistent insights along the whole business process. A user in this context means both:

a) Business users that are part of the business process get access to relevant information and reports that increase the efficiency of the process, and

b) Business process owners get an insightful analytics of the process metadata to be able to further enhance and streamline the process.

However, this is only the first step of the BI and BPM convergence. In the next layer BI becomes an embedded and integral part of the business process itself. As an example, let’s think of a manager, triggered by an email notification to take some budget decision, and who gets the relevant information and analysis, tailored for his decision, already embedded within the email notification. Each business process step provides the user with contextual, relevant insights, information, analysis or even predictions that are useful to execute the process with highest quality and business efficiency.

And this is not the final stage of convergence. On the top layer business processes will become intelligent themselves. Business Intelligence will guide the business process at every step and trigger the best possible next steps. Based on e.g. the signals from some sensor tagged equipment the process intelligence will decide which spare parts or services to order, which field engineer to schedule or call for a budget decision meeting.

We are closer to intelligent business processes management solutions than you might think. Intelligent systems are already applied to e.g. city infrastructures, communication grids or energy systems – and it has started long ago in the often still human centric world of business processes. Ask your nearest office coffee machine!

Please leave a comment or contact me directly.

Kind regards,

Holger Kisker

Comments

re: On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

Holgar This is a great article on the growing trends. As many have commented, we are already observing the BI guided BPM - though it is the ultimate step towards the optimization in the above map. This gains more significance in the wake of intelligence that can be applied to virtually anything that a process runs on. e.g. we have recently helped a big bank on rationalizing the outsourcing spend based on the intelligence built over the process flow involved. Keeping in line with this, the services vendors will also think of various solutions that can be built - which will empower the business user/leader in a much better and guided way. Best Regards Venkat

re: On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

This is a growing trend in the sector that KSS operates - whereby customers are now seeking information and insight directly related to the improvement of underlying business processes, or more acutely mechanisms that can both alert them to business issues and provide them with the means to investigate root causes and set about resolving. Sector experts who can combine intellectual capital with the appropriate toolset are seemingly in greater demand now.

re: On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

Mark,
thanks for your comment. I fully agree that the trend of bringing more 'business intelligence' is not limited to pure BPM solutions. Solutions like KSS's fuel pricing optimization of course include a lot of intelligence too, not only the the price calculation but as you mentioned in the underlaying business process as well. I have recently seen other examples like process-oriented Customer Service solutions integrated with open source BI components from Pentaho and in my recent report on ERP trends I mentioned a strong trend that standard business apps (even ERP) are including more and more BI capabilities. The BI or BPM gurus might not like the dilution of their domains, but it's happening.
Thanks, Holger

re: On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

Very insightful article.
What are the steps that major vendors like IBM,Oracle, etc are taking this BPM and BI integration? Have you seen them doing some work in this area?

re: On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

Kishon,
thank you for the comment. I usually see larger vendors not to be at the front edge of such converging trends. If larger vendors happen to have solutions in two domains that are merging one might think that they are in the best position to drive such trends. But concerns about internal competencies and external market protection rather block them from being the front runners. Same happens in this case here, I think. Of course they can catch up quickly when it becomes an urgent issue.
Thanks, Holger

re: On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

Holger,

We've been having quite the discussion in our advisory board -- continuing, about the appropriateness of buzz phrases for the convergence underway.

BI, KM, KS,Semantic, Analytics, Search, BPM, Desktop Productivity, ERP..... OS

What you describe here is just one part of our Kyield holistic system, but an important one-- particularly in specific use case scenarios like this one we put together for the intelligence community:

http://www.kyield.com/images/SCENARIO_3-_Roger_the_maintenance_man_at_the_hydro_dam.pdf

Thanks for the work, and the blog.

re: On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

Holger,

Nice article in the first place...
My prophecy and wish list below and i would greatly appreciate and value your take on them.

One of two things is certainly going to be the outcome of this convergence.

1. DWBI vendors are going to have to create a DW and BI framework to handle industry leading BPM vendors cryptic data models OOTB

or

2. BPM vendors have to create thier own implementation of DW and BI frameworks for major DW and BI vendors in this market, again OOTB. This is going to be a natural progression path...BIX for Pega is close to such a move but very DW vendor agnostic...since there is now way to vendor agnostic in todays space

Bigger question I have is why do BPM's vendors have their own cryptic datamodel (humanly undecipherable completely) and storage patterns (blobs, clobs...what not)?

Can't some data model and storage pattern evolve there as an industry standard so that the business value that these BPM tools offer in terms of process improvements be mined from DWBI tools that exist in the market currently? That will make extraction of this data fom BPM databases which could change business outcomes much more simpler.

re: On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

Mark,
that was a nice story of Roger and Rita preventing a terrorist attack. I enjoyed the reading.
Intelligent systems like the one descibed in the story go much further than what I described in my little blog. It's already a challenge to build Process Intelligence on top of structured data within a company. The more it is for unstructured data accross entities, borders and continents. But it's happening. Thanks for sharing,
Holger

re: On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

Kumar,
I think currently rather the second case is happening, i.e. BPM vendors are adopting BI frameworks, often OpenSorce based or legacy as mentioned in the blog. I don't think BI vendors see this (yet?) as a business opportunity.
The data models are the BPM vendor's differentiator. I'm a fan of standards but wonder how this could be achieved near term.
Thanks for your post, Holger

re: On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

Holger, thank you for your blog. We've found that "process-driven" applications create an enormous amount of data which organizations want to leverage in reporting and BI tools for performance analysis. Integration between BPM and BI tools, however, can often be cost prohibitive. Matching all the user groups, hierarchies and security levels requires significant policy reviews and developer resources. As a result, process data is left out from operational analysis. As you note above, the market has pushed BPM vendors to add BI/reporting functionality to their product suites. Providing a seamless experience between process modeling/execution and business anlaytics draws key data (process data combined with financial and opeartions data) into user's hands at the instance they are doing work, which is really when they're thinking about how work can be done more efficiently.

re: On The Convergence Of BI And BPM

Garth, thanks for your comment. I fully agree regarding the huge effort for a real integration of BPM data into operational BI. That's what pushes BPM vendors to add 'BI-like' functionality to their portfolio. It's not a convergence of vendors or markets but a convergence of functionality. And I'm happy to see that HandySoft is well advanced on this road!
Thanks, Holger

Dear Venkat, you are right,

Dear Venkat, you are right, intelligence can and will be applied to many processes and applications. Likely business process applications are a kind of spearhead but we see business intelligence getting embedded into more and more applications from shop floor manufacturing applications to strategic enterprise applications. Does this mean BI as a seperate market will dissapear over time as BI functionality gets adopted and embedded by non-BI vendors over time? Well, I don't think so but it's an interesting trend to observe. Kind regards, Holger