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IBM Adds 'Key Agility Indicators' to the BPM/SOA Mix

Announcements highlight business activity monitoring, vertical process content and assessment services.

Agility has emerged as a crucial differentiator as companies increasingly compete on a global scale. That's why IBM has defined new "Key Agility Indicators," or KAIs, intended to help businesses measure how well they are sensing and responding to fluctuations in customer demand and proactively monitoring key business processes.

Announced today as part of a four-part release, the KAIs are generated by a new IBM Benchmark Wizard tool that measures the performance of business processes compared to industry norms. The first set of KAIs is for supply chain environments, but IBM says it will introduce a KAIs for a range of vertical industries over the next year.

"The question is, do you have ability to make changes within the timeframe that it matters," says Sandy Carter, Vice President of Services-Oriented Architecture and WebSphere Strategy. "We started with supply chains because it cuts across multiple industries and it's an area in which agility is vital because you have to respond quickly to shifts in supply, demand and production."

The supply chain KAIs look things like the ability to get the right product to the right place at the right time and the time required to handle returns as compared with industry norms, says Carter. The measures are said to be based on insight IBM has gained in more than 16,000 customer engagements as well as on 1,200 industry standard performance metrics from the American Productivity and Quality Center.

IBM also announced a new version of WebSphere Business Monitor, IBM's business activity monitoring (BAM) software. The Ajax-empowered upgrade is said to let business users create and manage their own key performance indicators (KPIs) and alerts without IT assistance so they can track business process performance, identify trends, predict future events and take corrective actions. The upgrade offers dashboards around corporate strategy and goals as well as new Google Map, Human Task and KPI Exporer dashboard views.

"The Google Map view lets you merge geographical information into the monitor so you can check the status of, say, orders from different locations," says Carter. "The human task view lets you look at the manual tasks that are outstanding in a process so you identify bottle necks and take action. The KPI Explorer view lets you author your own KPIs for your own dashboard and share them with others working on the same process."

To ease development of business processes, IBM has released content around banking payments, telecom operations, healthcare payor processes, and insurance property and casualty processes. The content includes pre-built business service templates with industry-specific tools and taxonomies.

"They templates include associated definitions, Web services, metadata and glossaries of industry terms as well as schemas based on industry standards, such as ACORD or IAA in insurance," says Carter. "They also include documentation and sample scenarios so customers can build and differentiate on top of these pre-build templates."

Big Blue also announced today that IBM Global Business Services is offering a new "Globally Integrated Enterprise Assessment" designed to help companies evaluate their current status as a global competitor and define a strategy for seizing emerging market opportunities. Integrated with IBM’s approach to helping customers with service oriented architecture (SOA), the assessment's underlying goal is to ensure that the strategy makes use of existing best practices, technologies, service and process components, and other assets.

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