Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Can I take back what I said about BPM and mashups?

Back what seams a very long time ago, but was actually only October last year, I wrote a post suggesting that BPM was another form of business mashup. Like-minded blogger Sandy Kemsley agreed, and bemoaned the lack of mashup understanding in the BPM community.

I've kept an eye on the BPM community looking for activity around mashups. I've seen a few comments around the edges, but nothing I would call a trend.

I was confused. Presentation mashups and BPM may have little in common, although I would suggest that Tibco, with their focus on RIA composite applications, have been playing in the presentation mashup space for a while. (Others will likely disagree, and we can have a discussion.) However, once you get 'out of the map' and start considering mashups from a business or enterprise angle, the overlap becomes pronounced.

(Note: my good friend Summer Ficarrotta coined the term 'out of the map' months ago to help people understand that Google Maps mashups at the glass weren't the only mashups on the block.)

I think I fell into the trap of thinking that because two things look the same and act the same, they should be the same. (Do you remember Papa Bear in The Big Honey Hunt?) I have a recent article by TechTarget writer Rich Seeley to thank for getting my head out of my trap. Through his insights about BPM and SOA roles and responsibilities, I now understand just how different BPM and mashups are.

In his article about the business and IT roles within SOA and BPM, he lists eight different roles involved in creating a BPM/SOA application, four each in business and IT.

Business Roles
  • Business Leader: Responsible for overall business performance, compliance and governance.
  • Business Professional: Manages business performance and decides on strategic and tactical needs for a specific area of responsibility.
  • Business Analyst: Interprets business professional and business leader requests and documents them into process models.
  • Process Analyst: Specialized business analyst who concentrates on the simulation and analysis of processes in their business environments and their interactions.
IT Roles

  • IT Leader: A Business Leader responsible for delivering technology solutions that enable the business.
  • IT Analyst: Interprets business analyst inputs/requirements in the context of IT capabilities, works with team on IT-based business process improvement.
  • IT Architect: Defines basic operational imperatives in the provisioning of IT services with a focus on resiliency, reuse and adaptability.
  • IT Developer: Follows IT architectural principles to create "building blocks" for the construction of applications.
Whew! Imagine putting a mashup together where you needed four different roles to put an idea together before tossing it over the wall to IT where four more roles did the implementation. I'm not saying this is too much for BPM. High-value and highly-complex systems need governance and discipline during their ideation and construction, regardless of whether they are implemented as a custom application built from scratch by App Dev, or as a business process built atop a BPMS.

What I'm saying is this is too much for mashups.

The premise of Serena's paper on the long tail of applications development is that there are many applications that IT never implements because they aren't high value or complex enough to merit IT involvement. This is 'The Long Tail' of Applications Development. At the time we wrote the paper I thought that BPM could be one of the answers. After all, BPM was all about empowering the business to define and build applications.

And that's where I made my bloomer. Mashups need to be easy to build, easy to deploy and easy to maintain. Mashups need some governance, as I've written about here, here, and here. (Yes, this is a subject I care about.) Just not as much as an expensive and complex App Dev initiative. They also need some lifecycle management. Again just not as much as a typical App Dev initiative.

Now I'll go on record as saying they don't need as much governance and lifecycle management as Big BPM either.

Applications Development has a long tail, a tail that can be serviced, in part, through the use of mashups. Contrary to what I've said before, BPM also has a long tail. A tail that can be serviced, in part, through the use of mashups.

What I won't say any more is that BPM is a business mashup platform. It may look the same. It may act the same, but it isn't the same at all.


Shaw said...

Some blogger called 'Salar' posted a comment with a link to an infected website. It happened so fast after I posted that I have to assume the process is automated.

Sorry, but from now on I have to review comments before I allow them to be posted.



Justin Souter said...

Shaw / Kelly

Just researching a Point of View paper for my Company (big user of Serena Dimensions btw).

Note to say thanks so much for your thoughts, very helpful - in particular this post.

I found your blog when looking for business scenarios for mashups - i.e. the delivery van one you proposed on another post.