The Suite Spot: Former Pure-Play Vendors Dominate BPM Magic Quadrant

The vendors dominating the business process management (BPM) space are those that once offered pure-play point solutions but have now developed integrated suites, according to Gartner's recently published Magic Quadrant assessing the marketplace.

"During the next five to 10 years, BPM and service[s]-oriented architecture initiatives will usher in a world where business users and IT will use declarative, model-driven approaches for managing work, resulting in applications that require little or no coding," says report co-author Jannelle B. Hill. Yet Hill admits that a lot of work needs to be done before we see a truly code-free environment. So, through 2012 market, churn will continue as vendors pursue different process-centric strategies.

The current leading companies in the BPM suite (BMPS) space, according to the report "Magic Quadrant for Business Process Management Suites, 2007," are:

  • Pegasystems (far and away Gartner's leader, in terms of both completeness of vision and ability to execute),
  • Savvion,
  • Lombardi,
  • Tibco Software,
  • Appian Analytics,
  • BEA Systems (which, after a drawn-out fight, recently agreed to be purchased by Oracle),
  • Metastorm,
  • Software AG,
  • Global 360, and
  • IBM.

The Challengers quadrant comprised four vendors:

Oracle and Adobe each missed the Leaders' quadrant by a sliver, falling short only in terms of completeness of vision.

The Visionaries quadrant included:

  • SunGard (which was second out of all vendors assessed in terms of completeness of vision),
  • Ultimus,
  • Singularity,
  • Intalio,
  • AuraPortal, and
  • Ascentn.

The report measured vendors based on 10 areas of BPMS functionality as determined by suite buyers, up from seven areas of functionality in the previous year's report. According to Hill, the increased level of functionality desired by buyers reflects the maturation of the BPMS market. Another sign of that increased maturity is the fact that Gartner expanded this year's report to include nine vendors that weren't part of last year's round-up: Ascentn, AuraPortal, EMC, Intalio, Oracle, Software AG, and SunGard -- as well as Captaris and Microgen, which were the only two denizens of the report's last-place Niche Players quadrant.

(Three vendors in last year's report were dropped this year: Axway, CA, and Graham Technology. Graham, according to the report, "decided to emphasize its business domain expertise in call center operations and a few other areas...[and] now competes more with CRM application vendors rather than with BPMS vendors.")

"Buyers expect BPMS to offer not only the design and runtime environment, but also the business process content to accelerate their learning and implementation," Hill says in the report. "The packaged content provided by these vendors varies and may include sample process models, rule sets, prebuilt user interfaces and even composite process frameworks that can deliver 70 percent to 80 percent of the total solution."

Part of the work that many vendors need to do, according to Hill, is to develop a better understanding of workflow. The suite approach helps uncover unsuccessful workflows because the information is visible and audited, Hill explains.

By better understanding workflow, the suites can better help users see and manipulate resources, according to Hill. For example, using a BPMS at design time and runtime enables operational managers to enhance process execution: Altering the routing of work can help make the most of available human resources; altering work rules can eliminate unnecessary bottlenecks.

The greatest value of such analysis and change, according to Hill, will come in businesses that change frequently -- she cites such fields as retail, financial services, telecommunications, higher education, and the media -- because these industries are more susceptible to external factors requiring business process changes in order for companies to remain competitive.

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