BPM end-users look for social tools

Collaboration is now an integral part of Business Process Management (BPM), with the majority of end-users expecting the tools for day to day processes.

This according to a survey of BPM vendor BEA Systems' customers, which showed 91 per cent were already deploying collaborative processes. It said that many BPM providers were now combining collaboration, user interaction and social computing with BPM capabilities, as end-users expected more flexibility from using the applications.

"It means getting the brainpower of the whole organisation solving issues in a single business process," said Martin Percival, senior technology evangelist at BEA systems.

"It's a massive number in terms of people using collaboration in the systems they are building. It comes down to a recognition of the fact that it's fine to link systems together, but so much of what is done in companies is locked away in the heads of the people who work there."

The report also said that the BPM software market was one of the fastest growing around, it being worth $500 million (254 million) in 2006 and estimated to grow ten-fold in five years to $6 billion (3 billion) in 2011. Vendors have also consolidated from around 150 vendors to 25 in 2007 as large vendors such as IBM and Oracle have replaced smaller providers.

The findings came from a 'State of the BPM Market' white paper which combined analyst reports, industry articles and market surveys. It concluded that business and IT executives saw process improvement initiatives as 2008's number one priority, above new products, controlling costs and geographic expansion.

This was because despite rapid growth, most BPM deployments were focused on smaller departmental scale processes. Only 18 per cent of companies deployed enterprise wide BPM in a BEA survey of 1200 business and IT professionals.

"For enterprises, the way of using BPM to integrate systems together is here to say," said Percival. "A lot of people that we talk to have three or more systems that they are going to pull into a single process when the start the building process."