I was recently quoted in a feature on Cloud Pro on BPM in the cloud and more specifically ‘How cloud can ensure smooth Business Process Management’. It seems a pretty important question to ask at the moment, especially when it seems like we are endlessly wading through the hype of cloud to get to the real benefits…..
So what are the benefits of bringing cloud technology to BPM?
The speed of getting started is a huge benefit of bringing cloud technology to BPM. Typically, BPM-in-the-cloud providers should offer this capability “as a Service”, meaning that customers can start with BPM without having to install and set up the software themselves. The price point to enter BPM through the cloud is usually lower due to the “pay for use” subscription model. Also – customers can try BPM to see what it is all about and if it is right for them. Another advantage is that it is easier to orchestrate applications and data that reside in the cloud, so running BPM in the cloud makes processes more efficient.
Cordys believes that BPM will converge with Platform as a Service (PaaS), combining the benefits of application development and process support in an integrated cloud model. It will allow customers to build those smart process apps that are highly flexible and tailored to serve the end user with a cloud based solution that eliminates the traditional IT/business productivity challenges.
Cutting through the cloud hype
As with all areas of this industry, there is a lot of hype around cloud technology and getting to the real benefits can often be drowned out by “cloud washing”. There are three things to really consider when it comes to BPM and the cloud:
- Do you have some data and services in the cloud that your processes need to work with?
- Do you want to actually execute processes in the cloud? If so – how do you include your existing data and systems that aren’t in the cloud
- Cut through the hype – is cloud really suitable for what your organization needs to achieve today, tomorrow or somewhere in the future?
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I was lucky enough last year to be on a briefing with Clay Richardson from Forrester where he spoke about the “mess of many”. Trying to create enterprise wide business processes across different business units and systems was hard enough when everything was inside your own organization. When you start to bring in data and systems in the cloud – you very quickly end up with your process challenges doubled. You now have the “mess of many” problem – enterprise processes across your on-premise systems but now also the applications and software you have in the cloud.
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BPM has always been used to improve business processes within an organisation and as businesses move to the cloud its crucial to maintain these consistent enterprise wide processes when, say, your CRM system runs in the cloud but your ERP or HR systems run on-premise. This idea of hybrid processes that span across on-premise and cloud seems to be where the majority of people are right now and I think we will see these continue to be critical for the foreseeable future. I’m not saying that there aren’t “cloud only” processes but I think a mix of everything is where most companies are right now.
On the subject of “mixing things up” – a further impact of cloud technology on BPM is the idea of “Mashups”. The concept of “mashing up” process information with other data from both on-premise and the cloud to create process-centric composite applications is becoming as important as the end product for BPM. As you may have read in my previous blog, this concept seemed to go down well with the people that came over to the Cordys stand at the recent Gartner BPM Summit. We recently had a webinar with Tony Baer from Ovum on this subject that you can see here. You can also see the Cordys composite application capabilities in action (and very well demonstrated by my “new dad” colleague Chris Hyde) here
Cloud proposition vs traditional on-premise suppliers
Another question that customers are asking is why should they consider vendors with a cloud proposition instead of traditional on-premise suppliers? The easy answer to this is if a customer isn’t sure about BPM then they can try it out in the cloud before making a commitment. We often see organisations start in the cloud and then move back into on-premise and vice-versa. This flexibility is important to consider together with the idea of a hybrid model. We are also seeing a new approach to a BPM appliance where the whole offering comes “in a box”. This is often delivered as a cloud based platform as a service.
There are great benefits from cloud and BPM:
- Quick start, no IT hassle. Focus on business value
- Pay as you go subscription model
- High degree of collaboration e.g. collaborative modeling
- Orchestration of cloud services
However, it is important to get this benefit that companies ask themselves the right, honest questions. Navigating BPM and the cloud and taking the right, pragmatic choices ensures an organization is future-proofed, can get started quickly and makes sure that they can take the hybrid approach to ensure they aren’t getting themselves into that “mess of many problem”.
When navigation goes wrong – it isn’t pretty
NB: clearly in this picture he has managed to impressively reverse into that space as the rear view mirrors are intact.
Hope to see you at the next blog posting.