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BPM Pure-Plays? What BPM Pure-Plays?

As with just about every other computing acronym, "BPM" is designed to shorten our overflowing lexicon of IT terminology. But more often, it just leaves everybody confused. A recent survey illustrates just how semantically vague these IT abbreviations can get.
As with just about every other computing acronym, "BPM" is designed to shorten our overflowing lexicon of IT terminology. But more often, it just leaves everybody confused. A recent survey illustrates just how semantically vague these IT abbreviations can get.Intelligent Enterprise and Network Computing, two of our sister publications, polled 1,600 readers to ask them to name the leaders in business process management (BPM) software. The result: None of the pure-play BPM vendors appeared prominently on the list.

Instead, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle were the big winners. IBM sells BPM software as a niche play, while Microsoft and Oracle don't offer full BPM suites, as Bruce Silver explains in his analysis of the so-called BPM leaders.

But that doesn't matter to BPM users, apparently. The businesses out there that compose BPM's actual constituency are defining BPM for themselves, and their definition doesn't match the one laid down by the free-standing BPM software makers or the IT pundits who comment on such things.

Silver componentizes BPM as including a few critical elements: business modeling, simulation, business rules, analytics and BAM (which is "business activity monitoring," yet another variously defined IT concept).

My point, however, is this: It's not the users who need to get "on message." It's the vendors, and the IT analysts and IT writers. Businesses will decide what they need from process management, and thereby define what BPM should be. As it stands now, BPM software firms either aren't effectively telling companies how they bring value to business, or -- and this is worse -- they're selling a set of capabilities that most users don't need, at least not in full.