Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Good news and bad news

By: Frank Buytendijk, chief marketing officer

I joined Be Informed a little bit over three months ago now. The first thing I noticed, and what drew me to the world of business processes was the enormous growth potential, it is one of the few best-of-breed enterprise software markets left. There is ample room for innovation.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that I have the feeling that the business process discipline is terribly lacking behind other software markets. I think I can make the comparison, most of my own background comes from the business intelligence market. Let me explain.

In the management information systems world (MIS), close to twenty years ago it became clear that sending a programmer around, asking all users which reports they needed, and then program them all, is not the smartest approach. It leads to extremely expensive reports, no reusability and a heavy TCO burden. In the early 1990s the business intelligence query and reporting tools came up offering a different solution. Users and developers shouldn't put the report in the middle, but the data domain. If, using a metadata layer in between the reporting tool and the database, you can abstract from both the data model and the reporting layout, users can create all the necessary reports themselves. And you know all of those reports are right, because the metadata model describes the guardrails of what you can do very well.

How different the world of process still is. It is still pretty normal to send developers with little Visio schemas to all the users, and let them document, describe and build every single process. It is still accepted that business process specialists claim that "of course the process is always the starting point." Why, I wonder? It is the domain in which processes run that should be the starting point.

Be Informed has understood that fundamental principle, and basically built what is already the accepted paradigm in business intelligence. The only thing Be Informed does is describing the nature of all activities, and their mutual relationships. This is a metadata model, or in slightly more formal terms, an ontology. After doing that, users can go through processes every which way they want. And they know that whatever they do is perfectly right, because the ontology provides the guardrails.

Same thing!

If you look deep into the hearts of the people who develop Be Informed, they want nothing more than making sure that this process paradigm becomes the norm. The accepted best practice.
That would benefit Be Informed enormously. Most of our competitors have old-paradigm technologies, and it will take years to migrate to the new way of thinking. This is where I believe where Be Informed has the true lead in the market. Not the ontological approach per se, but how the idea of the ontology is consequently extrapolated and with extreme discipline is implemented throughout every aspect of the Be Informed Business Process Platform.

Hard to copy.

Interested? Would you like to know more? Let me know.

Be good,