Where Process And Intelligence Converge - InformationWeek

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1/20/2005
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Where Process And Intelligence Converge

The practices of business activity monitoring and business process management have begun to feed into, shape and demand results from BI systems. Our expert examines the ways BAM, BPM and BI are converging.

Business Process Management

BPM systems capture all sorts of data about their own performance -- waiting times, average queue lengths, mean processing time. This "state of the process" data is used to monitor and manage the workflow through the system. It also provides the basis for improvements to the system. This is an area where BPM meets BAM.

Because of its self-generated process metrics, BPM systems have the same need for dashboard-like monitors, analysis functions and control functions that BI and BAM systems use, but with a broader view of dataflows. In addition, the process metrics are measured against a set of business rules to help manage process flow. A key differentiator among BPM systems is how easy they make it for managers and analysts to reconfigure the system to respond to changes observed in the workflows. This is a self-adjusting strategy that is being carried over to BAM systems.

Until recently, BPM vendors have lacked complex real-time processing capabilities. BPM vendors have partnered with BAM players, providing the needed ad hoc event-driven and scheduled data in-flows required for BAM processing. This is the second and more critical point of contact between BAM and BPM. However, as much as BPM is a partner to BAM, it is also a competitor.

In the current enterprise application field, vendors of BI and BAM are dancing a convergence tango with other technological functions including EAI, business rules management, enterprise information integration and BPM. These vendors are starting to cluster around logical enterprise-monitoring and control systems, both in vertical markets and in terms of the key horizontal feature sets. As both the BPM and BAM markets continue to grow, expect to see more consolidation across these disciplines over the next three to five years.

But even more significant is the fact that BI is leading the enterprise development and application integration parade. Not Web Services, not SOA, not ESB -- these are just the means to an end. And the end is better decision-making at all levels within an enterprise. Bottom line return on investment is what BI methods, processes and systems are delivering -- so why not lead the parade?

Jacques Surveyer is a consultant and trainer; see some of his tips and tutorials at theOpenSourcery.com

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