New Group to Drive BPM Awareness, Standards

The Business Performance Management Standards Group hopes to accelerate adoption of BPM practices in the enterprise

Last week, Applix Inc., Hyperion Solutions Corp. IBM Corp., and SAP AG, along with several other prominent BI players, announced the formation of a new organization, called The Business Performance Management (BPM) Standards Group, which they will help raise awareness of BPM technology.

Other founding members include market research and consulting powerhouses International Data Corp. (IDC) and META Group, BPM consultancy BPM Partners, and The Data Warehousing Institute (the publisher of “BI This Week”).

John O’Rourke, senior director of product marketing with Hyperion, says that The BPM Standards Group expects to define BPM standards, as well as accelerate adoption of BPM practices in enterprise environments. “The question was, should we think about coming together to define some standards to make sure that definitions of the space are clear and to raise awareness?” he asks, adding: “[W]e’re really looking to address what’s the content in [BPM].”

At the same time, allows Michael Schroeck, a partner and global leader with IBM Global Services, the BPM Standards Group isn’t in the technology standards business: “I think the focus will be more on the business content and some of the other aspects. It won’t cover things like open standards.”

Proponents say that the group draws representation from among all of the categories of BPM—from application and tools vendors, implementation consultants, IT and data warehousing experts, and industry analysts—and also includes a user component, the BPM Forum.

Notably absent at the group’s inception, however, were several key BPM players—including Business Objects SA, Cognos Inc., and PeopleSoft Inc., among others—along with market research and consulting luminary Gartner Inc.

Representatives say that this is in part a result of the sort of ad hoc formation of the group itself: It grew out of an after-conference dinner party that included all of the principals. “Our intention was just to get the group formed out of the Boston meeting, to get it to the point where we’ve kind of laid out the charter for ourselves,” explains IBM’s Schroeck. “”We would expect that … [this] will, in fact, generate interest and that there will be a fair amount of inquiries coming in from vendors that want to be a part of this.”

Does that also include purveyors of BPM products or services that compete against some of group’s principal members? “I think there’s been some outreach to some of those vendors already, but want I want to make clear is that we’ll certainly welcome additional players with open arms,” responds Hyperion’s O’Rourke. “[W]hat I know about Cognos and Business Objects, things we’re defining match up pretty well with their view of the world, as well … I don’t think there’s any huge gash in terms of how [these] companies view [BPM] and what we’re defining. I don’t think we’ll see a split in the market.”

Is there a danger that a founding member such as Hyperion could manipulate the BPM standards or definition processes to ensure that its vision of BPM is given priority over those of its competitors? Or that META Group or IDC could do the same at the expense of a competitor such as Gartner?

Absolutely not, counters O’Rourke: “There won’t be a single member of this group that dictates the direction. It‘s going to be [about] information sharing and working together to come to some common understanding. There’s multiple vendors [and] multiple analysts involved here.”

Reached for comment, Cognos spokesperson Don Jennings said the company is keeping an eye on the situation but isn’t inclined to join at this moment. "Cognos thinks this is a valuable initiative which will further advance the market. At this time, we are staying abreast through close contact with industry analysts, customers and partners of initiatives such as this one with BPM Partners. We feel this initiative is good for the market and we will consider joining in the near term."

A representative from Business Objects did not respond to a request for comment at press time.

O’Rourke and Schroeck stress that The BPM Standards Group will welcome user feedback, largely through the BPM Forum. Users can suggests BPM best practices or tout exemplary BPM case studies, even if they involve products or services from vendors that aren’t members of the group.

Although the group has not yet established a branding or certification program—e.g., “BPM Standards Group Approved” or “Ready for BPM”—representatives don’t rule it out. “I think there’s going to be some branding associated with our standards group. In terms of certification or training, I don’t know if our group would handle that, or if it’s something we’d turn over to TDWI or one of the other groups,” says Schroeck.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.