Not news to some of you I am sure, but as you are all starting to realise the BPM industry is heading, hell for leather, toward a SaaS On Demand model. There are a number of vendors I have been engaging with who have development efforts underway (NDAs in place so no point in asking).
Indeed, I would guess this begs a question that most vendors are asking themselves right now. What is the future of their shrink wrapped software market? Is it going to be swallowed (or overtaken) by those who are able to deliver a sublimely easy to use interface and a service that is similarly easy to consume.
In the last week or so we have seen announcements from Lombardi with Blueprint (see the review here), and Appian (but more of that later). I have also tripped over another small player that is busy coming at it from a different direction (Itensil) … effectively designing the whole thing to be so easy to use and flexible that end-user knowledge workers can develop and drive their own work without reference to an IT staff. No doubt we will see more of this sort of thing (SaaS BPM platforms) unveiled at the Gartner BPM Summit next week (where I am delivering the Pre-Conference Tutorial “Ensuring BPM Success” on the Sunday evening).
Coming back to the Appian announcement, that is their aim and objective too. Their core AJAX modeling and deployment platform (Version 5.5) is being built on to provide the basis for their On Demand BPM utility. Amongst other areas being reworked are enhancements needed to deliver a secure and shareable front end (where multiple users will share a common process platform on a single box without being aware of each other). Of course, new functionality is required in the admin area to handle this sort of On Demand capability. I am also due to have a private demo of other new areas of functionality while at the Gartner show.
Right now the service is in alpha mode testing, with selected partners and existing customers using it. In Q2, Appian intend to deliver an infrastructure that partners (and even customers) can use to create their own process templates … that other customers can then use or license (and pay for). The General Availability release is due for Q3.
Pricing sounds as though it will present some challenges (to competitors). Starting at about $15 per user per month for access to a shared virtual server. Dedicated virtual server costs at about double that (with a minimum number of users). Who knows, I might even use it to support BPM Focus (right now I am considering another vendor’s product to drive the processes of BPM Focus). More on that later.