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A New Way Of Collaborating

Standards are being developed with which companies will create business processes.
Users are excited about the technology as well. DHL International Ltd. has been developing business process models for nearly a decade, says David Norton, methods manager for DHL Systems, the company's IT unit. "The introduction of technologies such as BPML will allow us to further leverage this commitment by bridging the gap between the business and the enabling systems," he says. So far, DHL has no specific BPML-related projects under way, but as a Popkin customer, it plans to use the new version of System Architect, Norton says.

Every CIO needs to start learning about these new specifications, Owen says. They should be looking at the technology in detail and starting pilot programs to figure out how to exploit it once the specs are mature. "Take a small process within your enterprise, something not mission-critical, put in place a business-process modeling server, and try to deploy some BPML," he says.

It's not too soon to think about the technology, Siebel says. "This is breakthrough stuff, but in four years, five years, it's going to seem real obvious."

Business-technology managers who don't figure out the technology now risk being left behind, CSC's Smith says. "This isn't hype or illusion or snake oil--this actually exists, and it's going to surprise everyone," he says. "This stuff is what's going to lead to a significant acceleration of the way we invent and deploy processes."

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A quick look at the status of some business-process computing specifications
Specification AKA Supporters Status
Business Process Modeling Language BPML BEA, HP, IBM, SAP, Sun, others Version 1.0 released Aug. 15, products due by year's end
Business Process Execution Language BPEL4WS BEA, IBM, Microsoft Version 1.0 For WEB Services released Aug. 9, products due first quarter 2003
Web Services Flow Language WSFL IBM Version 1.0 published in May 2001, already supported by products
Extensible Language XLANG
(pronounced "slang")
Microsoft Released in July 2000, supported by Microsoft's BizTalk
Data: InformationWeek