This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.
In 2011 Gartner's Jim Sinur predicted that business process management and the cloud would be the "real thunder." He stated that moving operations to the cloud would free up money and efforts for businesses, and those organizations would be remiss to ignore BPM.
The speed of getting started is a huge benefit of cloud-based BPM. When BPM is offered as a service companies can try BPM to see what it is about and if it is right for them. Then, if they want to move forward, they can start without having to install and set up the software themselves at price point that is lower due to the "pay for use" subscription model. Finally, it is easier to orchestrate applications and data that reside in the cloud, so running BPM in the cloud makes processes more efficient.
[ CASE STUDY: Lessons in Successful BPM from Lincoln Trust ]
BPM is converging with platform as a service (PaaS), combining the benefits of application development and process support in an integrated cloud model. It allows companies to build those smart process apps that are highly flexible and tailored to serve the end user with a cloud based solution that eliminates traditional IT/business productivity challenges.
There are three things to consider when it comes to BPM and the cloud:
- Do you have data and services in the cloud that processes must work with?
- Do you want to execute processes in the cloud? If so, how does it include existing data and systems that aren't in the cloud?
- Is cloud really suitable for what you need to achieve today, tomorrow or somewhere in the future?
Clay Richardson from Forrester has spoken about the "mess of many." Trying to create enterprisewide business processes across different business units and systems was hard enough when everything was inside an organization. When businesses start to move data and systems to the cloud, they very quickly end up doubling process challenges. This creates the "mess of many" problem -- enterprise processes across on-premises systems as well as applications and software in the cloud.
As businesses move to the cloud it is crucial to maintain consistent, enterprisewide processes. Many companies today, for example, have a CRM system that runs in the cloud but ERP or HR systems run on-premises.
A further impact of cloud technology on BPM is the idea of "mash apps." The concept of "mashing up" process information with other data from both on-premises and the cloud to create process-centric composite applications is becoming as important as the end product for BPM.
The rapid rise of cloud computing and readily available free Web-based business applications mean more business users are deploying and using technology solutions without the IT department's involvement, which is one of the main attractions of mash apps.
Automotive supplier Valeo serves as a concrete case study: It introduced Google Apps for Business to its 30,000 connected employees to increase administrative efficiency and improve collaboration between almost 200 locations in nearly 30 countries. Using Applications Templates, business users all over the world can create and customize applications while governance is provided centrally to minimise duplication of effort and cost.
Cloud proposition vs. on-premises
Another question that companies are asking is why they should consider vendors with a cloud proposition instead of traditional on-premises suppliers. The easy answer to this is if a business isn't sure about BPM it can try it out in the cloud before making a commitment. Organizations often start in the cloud and then move back into on-premises, and vice versa. This flexibility is important to consider together with the idea of a hybrid model. There has also been a noticeable rise in a new approach to a BPM appliance where the whole offering comes "in a box," often delivered as a cloud-based platform as a service.
There are real benefits from cloud and BPM:
- Quick start, no IT hassle and focus on business value
- Pay-as-you-go subscription model
- High degree of collaboration such as collaborative modeling
- Orchestration of cloud services
However, to get this benefit it is important that companies ask themselves the right, honest questions. Navigating BPM and the cloud and making the correct, pragmatic choices ensures an organization is future-proofed, can get started quickly and can take the hybrid approach to make sure they aren't getting themselves into that "mess of many" problem.
Art Landro is CEO of Cordys, a global provider of cloud platform software that lets you take your business into the cloud quickly and with minimal risk. For more information, please visit http://www.cordys.com and to learn more about Cordys in the cloud applications, visit http://www.cordysprocessfactory.com.