Business Process professionals are scratching their heads at today's announcement by Progress Software to acquire Savvion.  Process professionals are asking what exactly does this deal mean – for Progress and Savvion's combined customer portfolios and for the broader BPM market. 

Connie Moore and I sat down earlier today to record a video blog post on what this deal means for Business Process professionals and to the broader BPM market.


In our video blog post (also posted on Forrester's YouTube Channel), we outlined three key themes driving the Progress/Savvion deal and how Process pros should view and respond to the latest round of acquisitions in the BPM space:  Process pros should:
  • Expect to see continued convergence in the BPM Suite space.  It's difficult not to look at Progress/Savvion deal through the lens of two other recent acquisitions in the BPM space:  1.) Software AG's acquisition of IDS Scheer and 2.) IBM's acquisition of Lombardi.  At the macro-level these three deals validate Forrester's prediction of further consolidation in the BPM space. In some ways this might have been a direct response to IBM's acquisition of Lombardi – since Progress was a close Lombardi partner. However, it is important to understand that different vendors will approach consolidation from different angles.  In the case of the IBM/Lombardi acquition, the focus was more improving their collaborative BPM capabilities.  In the case of Progress and Savvion, the acquisition will focus on combining data and processes to provide greater insight, visibility, and adaptability for the business.  
  • Understand that dynamic business applications require "dynamic business platforms."  The most exciting aspect of the Progress/Savvion deal is that it highlights an emerging trend around what Forrester has coined as "dynamic business platforms." Dynamic business platforms represent the natural evolution of  "dynamic business applications."  Dynamic business apps focus on bringing together business process, application development, business rules, and business intelligence to build flexible business solutions that can adapt to changing conditions.  In the past, building these dynamic business apps required components (i.e., BPM suite, business rules engine, BI software, etc.) from different software vendors – mandating a high-degree of custom integration and development to hold all the pieces together.  With the emerging trend of dynamic business platforms, teams will have better integrated tools, requiring less development – in other words, business users and stakeholders will have more capabilities to configure and adapt the solutions they want instead of relying heavily on IT.
  • Intelligent processes are becoming an essential  ingredient for process improvement efforts.  In May 2008, Forrester published a ground breaking report on what we called "The Three B's" – business process, business rules, and business intelligence.  In this report we outlined how these three components come together to make processes smarter and much more adaptive. Over the past few years technology has matured in these three areas to make "predictive process analytics" a reality.  Instead of implementing process improvements based on teams of business analysts reviewing audit trails and interviewing stakeholders, tools have matured to a point that processes can be configured to automatically adapt and adjust based on SLA's, real-time data, and real-time events.  In the past, most customers relegated this type of functionality to the bin of science fiction and interesting theory.  Now, with the "Great Recession" forcing organizations to quickly adapt to changing conditions, Process professionals are being pushed to make processes more intelligent and able to sense and respond to changes with less human involvement.  Progress Software's acquisition of Savvion represents the merger of the two key ingredients required for intelligent processes – CEP (sense) and BPM (respond).  Of course there are several other ingredients that go into making processes intelligent – but these two ingredients are essential to making intelligent processes accessible to the enterprise.
What's It Mean
No doubt, this latest round of BPM suite consolidation will create some anxiety for Process professionals trying make sense of where the BPM market is going.  However, Business Process professionals should view the Progress/Savvion deal as further validation that software vendors are committed to providing better tools and capabilities to support business-led transformation and process improvement initiatives.  Additionally, Business Process professionals should view this deal as an opportunity and catalyst to broaden their view of "business process management".  Instead of viewing BPM as a discipline only focused on automating cross-functional business processes, Process professionals should identify the other disciplines, skills, and components they need to beef up their support for "dynamic business."
What's Your Take
I want to hear from you.  Let me know what you think of the Progress/Savvion acquisition?  Do you think Progress will be able to fully leverage Savvion's capabilities to deliver a leading "dynamic business platform?"  Do you think the combination of process and data is a potential game changer?  If you're an existing Savvion customer, let me know if you see this as a good development or have if you have concerns about how the deal will impact your process improvement initiative.  Post your thoughts in the comments section or feel free to shoot me a quick e-mail at