RealTime IT News

BPM Market Heating Up, Metastorm Rising?

The business process management (BPM) tools market is on a solid growth path. BPM, which is designed to optimize and streamline business operations, will grow from the roughly $1 billion in 2007 to $2.6 billion by 2011 according to Gartner.

One of the vendors hoping to take advantage of this growth is Metastorm, which this week released an upgrade to its Metastorm BPM product and plans to unveil a unified enterprise platform later this year.

The upgrade includes a stronger partnership with Microsoft; process binding with Microsoft productivity applications such as Microsoft Office and Windows SharePoint; integration of Metastorm ProVision process analysis simulation elements within Metastorm BPM; inclusion of business activity monitoring (BAM) support and alerts in Windows Vista; and extended support for document management.

These steps will "make analytics something ordinary people can do, instead of an IT activity," Greg Carter, Metastorm's chief technology officer and vice president of product development, told InternetNews.com.

It is also the first of two steps towards a unified version of the company's Metastorm Enterprise platform; the next will be creating a common facility for business process and enterprise architecture, Carter said.

Including SharePoint capabilities lets users collaborate and share their work without needing to go to a portal.

Metastorm BPM can build deployable applications that "constantly gather metrics and performance information and real world statistics," and its latest release 7.6 lets users take that information and use it to create simulations, going beyond process analysis to process execution, Carter said.

Windows Vista will further increase ease of use because "we've taken advantage of some of the new Microsoft capabilities around providing ambient feedback, and are looking at the Windows desktop as an information source and not just something sitting in the background," Carter added.

Vista provides the concept of a gadget which sits in the sidebar, and Metastorm has provided a series of gadgets that "let non-IT people deploy information in the sidebar so they can get information about the health of the processes they are taking part in," Carter said.

For example, a user could see in the sidebar the number of new customer signups that take more than two hours, or the number of projects he is working on whose deadlines are coming up. "You don't need to go to a specialized dashboard or portal to get your feedback, you just focus on doing your work," Carter explained.

While Metastorm is using Windows as its delivery mechanism, it might look at alternatives such as Salesforce.com, Microsoft Office Online applications and Google, Carter said.

Metastorm Enterprise, which will be launched later this year, will incorporate Metastorm's enterprise architecture (EA); business process modeling and analysis (BPA); and BPM applications, which are currently standalone items. It will also offer shared services and a common meta-model to offer better visibility into, and understanding of, the impact of decisions at all levels.

"Users will employ models to describe complex things, whether it's a business process or an organization; do things with these models; answer difficult questions such as 'What happens if I retire my mainframe?' 'What are the systems and who are the people affected?," Carter said.