Announcing IBM Blueworks Live, new cloud-based BPM offering. A conversation with Phil Gilbert
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Contributed by Jennifer Dubow (@jennifer_dubow)
Phil Gilbert was recently named Vice President, Business Process Management for IBM Software Group. Phil was the CTO and President of Lombardi Software, which was recently acquired by IBM. He brings more than 25 years of experience in technology startups plus six years in consulting and executive positions for non-technology businesses.
Q: Congratulations on your new role. People often note that the first 90 days of a job are critical. What are you focused on for the first 90 days?
Thank you, it's a real privilege to be asked to lead this era of change in BPM here at IBM. These next 90 days are critical, but probably more for me than for BPM. Our customers have been the heroes of BPM, not us, and so this 90 day period is a lot like the last one, and the next one: we need to keep listening to our customers, we need to continue learning from them, and we need to lend whatever wisdom we've acquired to help when asked.
Here's what we're hearing:
And so in the next 90 days we're going to be delivering the next new version of WebSphere Lombardi Edition, now localized in about a dozen new languages, including Russian, Brazilian Portuguese and Chinese. In addition, we've recently announced a new IBM BPM services practice specializing in jump starting BPM projects.
We are delivering the new IBM Blueworks Live. This not only combines the BPM Blueprint and BPM BlueWorks Beta products, but it is a radical re-think of what private and public BPM communities can be. It also includes powerful new ways to simply automate all of those processes that you run today as "Excel over Email". And all of this is delivered in a pure SaaS implementation for as little as US$10 per user per month! Many of our customers' CIOs feel like this can be one of the most powerful ways to address hundreds of internal project requests that simply won't make the funding cut this year, for pennies on the dollar.
Finally, there's a powerful new WebSphere Decision Server release which really captures the power of marrying complex event processing with business rules. And again, all of this can be managed in an easy to use browser-based interface that real business people can use with little training.
So that's the next 90 days for my group at IBM: keeping the focus on the customer, and delivering great products that work together, in ways that real business people can gain value from them, and are delivered on the platforms business people are adopting.
Q: What's the most exciting thing for you about the recent announcement of IBM Blueworks Live?
The possibilities of bringing the power of BPM to every single white collar worker in the world, in a crazy inexpensive manner.
There were three problems we were trying to tackle. First, we had Blueprint and BPM BlueWorks and we wanted to merge them. Second, we wanted to radically re-think the notion of community after talking to hundreds of customers. And third, we wanted to give regular people the power to use BPM to control every ad hoc process that, today, is run over email. So the most exciting thing for me is I think we've solved every one of those problems in an incredibly elegant way.
Let me just talk about a couple of things we did. The public communities that vendors put together aren't really BPM communities... they are product support sites. We've done the research: about 80% of the content on those sites is product support stuff. That's not real BPM.
So what we did with Blueworks Live is looked to find the real public BPM community. Guess what? It's Twitter. Twitter offers the best real-time view of what's happening globally in BPM... but how to follow everything? Well, we offer a curated Twitter feed as our public BPM stream inside Blueworks Live. This will be the best, most knowledgeable BPM "community" in the world... we'll follow the current hash tags from BPM events, we'll follow competitors who are contributing to the BPM conversation, and we'll also add posts our curator finds, right into the public stream.
We'll also provide the richest private community tools... to allow Blueworks Live users the venue for safe conversations with their colleagues.
And the automation and control in Blueworks Live is so easy to use---you can really author and deploy a process application in 90 seconds. A useful one, not just "Hello World." And one that then gets tracked in Blueworks Live's' Center of Excellence.
So as you can tell, I'm pretty excited about this new product.
Q: BPM and Cloud is a hot topic these days. What makes IBM Blueworks Live stand out in this crowded space?
Well most BPM companies view Cloud as a technology. And so what you see mostly is simply their old platforms repurposed and accessible via the internet and a browser. By and large these are single-tenant offerings… at price points that are close to the on-premises BPMS they offer. You mostly still have to maintain the virtual machines yourself, so you don't get the benefits of SaaS. The vendor doesn't take ownership of upgrades, so there are still multiple versions of their offerings, and you get stuck with an old version and have to do (pay for) the upgrade yourself.
So Blueworks Live is really one of the only offerings that really gives you the benefits of the business model the cloud enables. Simply running on the cloud isn't the issue for most of our customers. They are moving to the cloud to solve business problems (like economic gains), not simply technology problems.
But what we've done is thought of the cloud as a business platform. And in so doing, we've re-thought everything about BPM. We've focused on problems that people are comfortable solving over the cloud in 2010 - giving control and visibility to processes that today are not individually mission critical, that are not integrated into back office systems, that don't require someone from IT doing something to "deploy" the application.
I think people will see the difference between Blueworks Live and every other so-called cloud-based BPM application in about 90 seconds. Because that's the amount of time it takes to describe and share a process application in Blueworks Live.
Q: It's been great chatting with you today. One final question before we wrap up. In the last five years, there's been tremendous change in the BPM industry. What does BPM look like five years from today?
We are on the cusp of another great change in BPM. Forces not dissimilar from those of ten years ago are upon us. Ten years ago we had three fundamental enablers for modern BPM: globalization, the internet, technology-savvy business people entering the ranks.
Today we have different factors: economies on fire in China, India and elsewhere; SaaS as a viable business platform, those same technology-savvy people who entered the business workforce in 2000 are now entering leadership positions.
So products like Blueworks Live will change the face of BPM with their reach and democratization of BPM.
Today's BPMS offerings will get stronger but I think they'll specifically change in two key areas.
First, BPMN 2 will give us a more scalable architecture to build on, as it unifies understandable process notation with execution. BPMN 1 has been a big factor in the success of BPM to date; BPMN 2 will further that contribution.
The second area is in the incorporation of other standards in the "BPM stack". Now that we've got a mature notation and execution capability, we can start to focus on the real value-drivers: linking strategy to execution and providing even better visualization of real-time business performance. The Object Management Group is an example of a standards body that is actually out ahead in this area of driving specifications that deliver business value to business users. So you'll see more of a defined BPM stack get into products, and the result will be even more linkage to the line of business across the industry.
And finally, by 2015 I think that BPM will be more defined by its ability to measure agility - that is: the focus of BPM will be to instill cultures of change - as opposed to today's focus on flows and case handling. There was technical plumbing to be done and, basically, this past decade was when that occurred. But the next decade will see BPM practitioners turn our pursuits to BPM's primary value proposition: the visibility it offers, not the automation it provides.
Q: Where can people find/follow you online?
To learn more about BPM Blueworks Live, visit www.blueworkslive.com. To learn more about how BPM, SOA, and Cloud can help you achieve business agility, go to www.ibm.com/business-agility
Follow us @ibmbpmupdate, @philgilbertsr @blueworkslive
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