Pure-Play BPM, What’s That Anymore?

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Over the last couple of years we have witnessed vendors falling out of the Pure-Play category due to acquisitions (Fuego, Savvion, Lombardi…) or their move into a different strategy. Very few players are left in the Pure-Play zone: Appian, Global 360, Ultimus, Intalio, Handysoft, and few more. Before someone hangs me for picking these names, let me also mention that some of these are also creating their own niche by adopting cloud or domain models or aligning with additional areas getting created with convergence of BPM with Social, SaaS, CRM, Case Management, & so on. Agreed, like these others, Pega also is still tagged as Pure-play, but it is also not behaving like a pure play anymore. It has been moving up with business domain models for some time, and now with acquisition of Chordiant, has made itself align with CRM and Case Management even more.

Initially, the category “Pure-play” referred to those vendors that originated from workflow management, and to distinguish them from those originating from EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) or Document/Content Management or platform based development etc. Over the years, however, and especially now, it doesn’t seem to make much sense sticking with the same reference term for these vendors any more. They stand (and better do) for much more than where they originated from.

And if any vendor still doesn’t move ahead of this term and doesn’t positions itself really to differentiate from the plethora of other vendors, the future of such a strategy will be in serious question. Everyone needs a real identity and association with a business value, and more than just being pure-play horizontal framework/product.

So, is it time to drop “Pure Play” term from BPM vendors categories? Even if we retain if, what’s the future of such “Pure Play” vendors?


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  1. #1 by John Reynolds on April 28, 2010 - 11:57 pm

    Think about this… If Websphere and Weblogic ship with BPM (formerly Lombardi and Fuego) – then a huge percentage of folks will have to justify NOT using those BPM suites.

    • #2 by Ashish Bhagwat on April 29, 2010 - 11:57 am

      Yeah, but they simply don’t. And it’s not just the bundling or pricing issue, much more than that! 🙂 But you’re so right.

  2. #3 by Juan on May 26, 2010 - 9:07 pm

    Interesting approach… I would ask a question, given it’s generally accepted that companies across its organizations have to focus on enhancing, wouldm’t this approach be hampered by extreme verticalization? This kind of approach is not copeting but fleeing away from the battle. Those the strategy is let’s get smalles to fit easily in the holes.. kind of the internet tial. In the end not promoting value through technology but isolation and lack of efficiency. Just the oppososite to what IT gurus evangelize.

    Sorry, a bit long but also too short.


    • #4 by Ashish Bhagwat on May 29, 2010 - 1:43 pm

      Juan, I’m assuming that your questions is coming from product vendor standpoint when you ask whether the approach would get hampered by extreme verticalization. So, the question is about generality v/s specialization. I’d say that the product architecture and the functionality has to be driven by the general applicability, flexibility, extensibility and other basic architectural principles. However, the market strategy needs to really driven by solutions. People are not looking for one-size-fits-all tools when they look at vendors. They was solution to their problems. Whoever has the specific solution to what they’re talking about will be the winner.

      Additionally, the vendors space is getting too crowded to not have a USP and a specialization space. Having said that, the company strategy needs to be flexible and agile to move with the trends. Expecting too much, ain’t I but not a matter for choice for vendors any more… IMHO.

      • #5 by Juan on October 16, 2010 - 11:32 am

        Hi Ashish,

        First, thanks for the replay. Let me explain my point a bit further. To begin, I will try avoiding a product approach. Though my actual role is related with product I really agree with you that the name of the game is SOLUTION. But, I would say, it’s so independent whether we are talking of services or products. Comign to the solutions. First, I must say it’s a Utopy thinkng of the ‘silver bullet’. No solution is static so flexibility is a must. Second, any company needs solutionS. So, the reach it’s also relevant. These two vectors drive my interactions with customers. My first mission is not selling a license but knowing the customer will be satisfied one year and beyond after we started our joint-solution bulding effort.

        REgarding crowding. What I see is just the opposite less competitors. But this probably is for other comment.

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