BPM Gets Smarter With A Little Help From BI

More and more, both users and vendors of BPM and BI software are figuring out there's a lot to be gained by bringing the two technologies together.

Rick Whiting, Contributor

November 3, 2006

3 Min Read

Motorola is an enthusiastic adopter of BPM technology. The electronics manufacturer cut the time it takes to qualify parts from its suppliers for use within its own products from about 100 days to between eight and 35 days using Savvion's BPM software, says Toby Redshaw, Motorola's corporate VP for IT.

While business intelligence software traditionally analyzes historical data, Redshaw says his company plans to use BPM, BI, and business activity monitoring tools to become "a more real-time enterprise." Business activity monitoring software watches process data as it's being generated, providing alerts when, for instance, a supply chain logjam requires attention.


A lack of adapters and connectors for building links between BPM and BI packages has made businesses shy about trying to use the two together, but vendors are signaling a greater willingness to make their tools work cooperatively. Increasingly, BPM and BI software makers are bridging their respective technologies through reseller deals and partnerships. BPM vendors HandySoft, Lombardi Software, and Ultimus bundle Business Objects' reporting software with their products. Cognos provides links between its BI software and several BPM vendors' tools, and this year embedded Lombardi's TeamWorks BPM software into its analytics applications. Oracle's new Business Process Analysis Suite, which is integrated with its BI Suite, also incorporates IDS Scheer's ARIS Platform system for process design, assembly, and monitoring.

BPM software maker HandySoft Global builds reporting capabilities into its BizFlow business process management and workflow system, primarily for monitoring process metrics, chief operating officer Brian Boxman says. Through a reseller deal, it also bundles Business Objects' Crystal Reports business intelligence tools with BizFlow for customers that want to extract data from a process for analysis. Financial services companies, for example, use the combined tools to collect data related to compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other regulations.

Bullish On BPMSome BPM tools are tightly linked with bigger, enterprise applications. Lawson Software integrates its ERP apps with its ProcessFlow Professional BPM software, its business intelligence dashboard and reporting tools, and its Smart Notification business activity monitoring software. ACTS Retirement-Life Communities uses the BPM software to manage its invoice-approval process and the dashboard to monitor the status of specific payments, says Rick Winter, application services director. The company plans to apply the same BPM and BI tools to improving the way it approves new capital projects, consolidating several informal processes into a single workflow that notifies each person in the process when approval is needed.

Going forward, BPM tools will work more closely with a greater range of predictive analysis and process optimization tools, says Shane Pearson, product marketing VP at BEA Systems, which this year acquired BPM software vendor Fuego for $87.5 million. Pegasystems, for example, is working with SAS Institute to develop prototype technology that will recognize trends uncovered by SAS's predictive analysis tools and use that data to develop business rules within Pegasystems' BPM system. Global 360 took technology it gained through its 2005 acquisition of Cape Visions and used it to add predictive analytics to its Business Optimization Server, which already has both BPM and BI capabilities.

The idea of combining BPM and BI is so compelling that a round of buyouts and mergers may be in the cards. The BPM vendor landscape, in particular, is fragmented, with dozens of often small software competitors. "All economics aside, I expect some interesting acquisition possibilities," says Alan Godfrey, marketing and business development executive VP at Lombardi Software. "The technologies are converging, I think, because customers are demanding that they converge."

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