Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint when everything changed. Lines are fuzzy, and even looking back on history, any particular event has a thousand beginnings. Doing it in real-time, being in the moment and at the same time identifying that moment is even riskier. What hubris it takes to say "I know that this changes everything." But at the risk of all that here I go: today, everything about BPM changes.
Just a few minutes ago we announced that IBM will acquire Lombardi.
I can't begin to convey the impact this will have on how and where BPM will be practiced, going forward. In the blurb above on this blog site (which was posted when I started this blog in 2005), I said that by 2010 process will be the primary prism through which large companies view themselves; and that by 2020 the management of process will be "second nature." The first of those milestones has come to pass: process is not simply the way business operates itself, but manages itself.
And yet very few global companies, if any, are good at this.
Bill Gates said, essentially, that any change takes longer than you expect but has bigger impact than you expect. This is especially true for change that requires great cultural movement. Technology is part and parcel to BPM, sure, but BPM is primarily about the direct involvement of business people in those technology implementations and oversight. This cultural watershed - the movement of the ownership of structured technology assets to the business - is the story of the second great wave of enterprise computing. And BPM is leading the way.
Lombardi started this BPM journey in 2000… it took our first decade just to really figure out all the moving parts and to deliver products and practices that met the need. We've seen this in technology cycles time and again. And so now as we begin the second decade of BPM the issue isn't so much "what is BPM," but "help me do BPM."
It's about having the vision to build, the discipline to execute, and the scale to deliver on the promise. I believe that only the combination of IBM and Lombardi have all those core attributes.
Where do we fit in IBM's universe? Two places, primarily.
First, Lombardi has the best business-facing BPM products, bar none. Teamworks 7 and Lombardi Blueprint are the only BPM platforms that begin to truly fulfill the dream of having real business people participate directly in the definition, creation and management of technology-dependent business processes. As we will begin showing later today, IBM is positioning Lombardi in this people-centric process space, alongside WebSphere Dynamic Process Edition for system-centric processes, and Filenet for document-centric processes. This is no doubt the best true "BPM suite" available today, offering concrete best-of-breed solutions for the breadth of process problems facing global enterprises.
Second, because Lombardi has focused on the business user, we have also focused on how to engage and support the business user. The work we've done on culture, change management, governance and BPM methodology is the best in the industry. Lombardi University and its role-based curriculum, along with tiered certifications and advanced mentoring, means that Lombardi can help IBM scale their business customers more quickly into the world of BPM. Lombardi's On-Demand Assistance program is also built from the ground up to allow fledgling BPM teams built on business-first principles to still have a technical safety net under them.
Together, IBM and Lombardi deliver scale. This is the first truly enterprise-class BPM offering. I'm not talking about transactions per second here, I'm talking about nothing less than scaling the operational capability of global industry and governments. As global trade and resource barriers have come down, so the technical silos must also come down. Yes, technology is lagging the change in corporate and government operations. Bringing these technology walls down takes more than a new tool, more than a rules engine or a BPMN diagram; it takes the ability to deliver technology AND change on the global stage, for everyone, at any time.
Enterprise BPM... no, let's call it Global BPM, is now available, for the first time. Welcome to the next decade of BPM. Welcome to the new Lombardi, soon to be part of IBM. And remember, like I've always said, "if it's BPM, it's IBM."