Here's and interesting thought for this week...does Microsoft lead or lag the world of BPM? At the beginning of this week BPM suite company Metastorm announced their plans for 2007. What was most striking about their announcement was the way in which they are going to leverage the latest Microsoft technology including Office 2007, Vista and MOSS 2007. In particular they make reference to the Office 2007 ribbon and Vista gadget's. What is the message from Microsoft? Well putting aside the BPM picture let's look at the Microsoft issues we are suffering...
In someway's it is a little difficult to compare and contrast BPM suites with Microsoft's approach to BPM. Whilst MS is a product company through and through it doesn't have a BPM suite product. This is not the MS intention. What they do have is a vision and approach to delivering BPM using Microsoft products. It's all there, well nearly all there as we don't have any modeling tools from Microsoft or a real workflow product, we have great products and a reasonable vision but not something that feels fully joined up. We also have a number of issues with these parts - Visual Studio does not work well with Vista, even with SP1. BizTalk, heart of any BPM solution cannot be developed on Vista, even Ultimate. Doubts are rising around the scalability of MOSS with respect to the workflow aspects due to the manner of it's hosting.
In a positive vain what Microsoft are providing the building bricks and foundations to not only build great BPM solutions but also enterprise strength solutions and the ability to allow development partners innovate in delivering solutions.
So what we have is companies such as Metastorm showing a clear way forward in the production of suites, companies such as K2 who are maturing their workflow offerings towards BPM style suites and Microsoft delivering the components to build it all.... When I started my thoughts on this I had in my mind what I wanted from Microsoft and very simplistically it would be very much like the office story. Microsoft produced many moons ago a number of great products - Word, Excel, Access et al - but they were separate products until the office concept was born. Now we have an effective, integrated offering that is growing like topsy! The some of the parts is now greater than the individual components and the glue, the common tools and the basic integration works. Even so we still have great room for innovation with such tools as Visual Studio for Office. What I would like is a BPM suite from Microsoft with clear guidance and product alignment and of course the missing tools. It should have one SKU and be purposed to take on the Metastorms, IBM and Oracle offerings.
Now this hasn't answered my question, MS leading or lagging in the world of BPM?, well they are not leading, but I don't feel they are lagging either they are part of the BPM ground swell and a very important part but to lead or even be with the leaders they need a proactive stance and offer a real BPM suite approach.
Previously posted at blog.Solidsoft.com