It’s the infrastructure, stupid #bpm

If you saw the financial news yesterday, Tibco announced the acquisition of Nimbus Partners. Did you pause and wonder why? Myself…I paused just a few seconds (and very few, at that) before it hit me, “It’s the infrastructure, stupid.”

The value of this acquisition is very well supported by the arguments made by Forrester’s Clay Richardson in his latest blog, “Big Process Thinking” Will Power The Next Generation Of Business Transformation. What follows isn’t just Clay’s opinion…Forrester interviewed key industry people over the last three months to come up with the stance that business process will evolve by 2020 to become:

  • Customer-controlled and centered – Customers will design and manage their own experiences and interactions, meaning customer experiences will be driven by process improvement. Forrester calls this “outside-in”.
  • Completely driven by business stakeholders – The power to manage business processes will continue to shift toward the business and away from IT.
  • Initiated more frequently via mobile and app Internet channels – Not just for consumers, but for the empowered worker as well. Process will be in context and real-time.
  • Deployed to a mishmash of internal and process-as-a-service solutions – Differentiating processes will be the focus and non-differentiating will be done in ‘cloud’ or outsourced ways.

I happen to agree with their opinions, and see the biggest process management challenge clearly…infrastructure. To make all of this a reality, the future-proofed enterprise must have a platform of technology that provides the following:

  • Ways to grab outside (customer) and inside data and make it meaningful through powerful visualization and analytics
  • A uniform framework for integrating and synchronizing incompatible and distributed systems
  • A comprehensive and consistent view of data so that technology truly integrates
  • A way to disaggregate non-differentiating processes seamlessly so they can be moved to lower-cost environments quickly and painlessly
  • Technical neutrality so that cutting edge ideas can be quickly tried and adapted where it matters

Tibco is the leader in providing this combination of cutting edge flexibility, integration and the management of large amounts of real time data…

…and Nimbus is unique and passionate about driving business process through the business-side stakeholders and deployment of personalized content through browsers or mobile devices.

Why would Tibco acquire Nimbus?

This is an excellent opportunity for both companies. Tibco is making moves to put themselves in a place to lead the changes Forrester and others are predicting, and Nimbus gains the means to bring critical data to their uniquely business-stakeholder-focused interface. With Tibco’s enormous installed base, engineering prowess and a salesforce that can reach far and wide, this is an acquisition that makes perfect sense.

Getting social

I’m passionate about the power of ‘social’ as the enabler of process capture, improvement and communication/input. As readers of my blog have heard many times before, I believe end-to-end business process provides the context needed to make social strategic for enterprises. This acquisition strengthens the Nimbus collaboration model through two very specific products, tibbr and Spotfire.

Yammer has a head start in ‘Twitter for the enterprise’ and the buzz that surrounds being a pure-play, but eventually that newness will wear off and technology buyers will go back to investing where the payoff is more significant…in the infrastructure.

Social and its enabling technology is just another aspect of a highly capable technology infrastructure and is about moving large amounts of data between people and applications in intelligent and efficient ways. Truth be told, we don’t know yet how big the social movement will be or where it will go as concepts and execution are still in their infancy, so better to be safe than sorry when it comes to building for both today and the future.

The world described by Forrester is one where data latency can kill the best business strategy. Tibco acquired Spotfire for a similar reasons to Nimbus…to be the leader in bringing information to the business user in a visual context that makes sense of numbers and trends. “The ability to make smarter decisions every day.”

Forrester follow-up

Clay Richardson followed up his prescient post from the August 26th with Nimbus Acquisition Positions Tibco To Finally Empower Business Stakeholders. In Clay’s words,

Over the past six months, one of the top inquiry topics I’ve seen from clients is around “models for increasing business engagement within BPM suites”. In short, I’ve fielded numerous calls from business stakeholders scratching their heads saying “I wrote the check for this BPM suite, but the IT guys are the only ones that can touch it.”

It will be interesting to see how the other analysts react to this over the next few days.

Categories: Frameworks, Future of work, Social / Collaboration, Strategy, Workplace Reality

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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4 Comments on “It’s the infrastructure, stupid #bpm”

  1. August 31, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    It’s an admission that both companies really didn’t get BPM in it’s entirety for one 😉

    On another level, it combines two vendor perspectives of social bpm concepts which I’m excited to see evolve, so my eyes are firmly fixed on you to get it right… have no excuses Chris.

    • August 31, 2011 at 6:34 am #

      It is an admission…that both companies needed something to make a more complete solution. I’m still learning about Tibco, but I can tell you that Nimbus is unique in what it does and what we really needed was a way to bring better data, faster and to present it well. That was always outside of our product. No more.

  2. August 31, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    Tibco is real-time data from anywhere, to anywhere, Spotfire is visualization and Nimbus is process content (activities and all supporting information deployed to everyone and change managed expertly). These three things are hand-in-glove technologies for allowing businesses to instantaneously have data so that they know what they do and show how well they’re doing it. We speak a different language. Seeing it in action is believing.

  3. September 1, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    Max, I’m not sure, but it seems your remarks are perhaps pointed, ie: you’re saying the TIBCO suite of products cannot create or change executable processes. I don’t think that’s the case. While I’m new to understanding the TIBCO suite (full disclosure, I’m also a Nimbus guy), you should probably check out BusinessStudio as that is the workflow automation product that would likely answer your question. As far as the future of how BPM will mature with the integration of these technologies, I’ve just posted some thoughts on the topic and I welcome your comments. I would hope we’re all “speaking the same language” when it comes improving how operations understand, design AND execute on process.

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