Business processes don’t execute only at the application layer. Just as thought processes aren’t entirely divorced from the synaptic firings of the underlying neurons.
Most business activity monitoring (BAM) tools I’ve come across only operate at the business level. In other words, they are geared to monitoring, tracking, correlating, visualizing, and analyzing those metrics that come from business process management (BPM) platforms, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and other application platforms. That’s essential, but it’s only half the battle of process optimization. To deliver the promised service levels, BAM dashboards should integrate closely with business service management (BSM) dashboards, thereby mapping application services to the underlying server, storage, network, and other infrastructure components. In this way, IT can provide full-stack visibility, provisioning, and control over every component that affects every step of every business process. If you need a deep drilldown on BSM, check out the excellent research by my colleague Peter O’Neill, who specializes in this area.
As Forrester’s primary analyst on BAM, I took a great briefing last week from UC4 Software, a vendor that combines business-level process dashboarding with a strong BSM capability. That impressed me, but I was also fascinated by their embedding of predictive analytics and complex event processing (CEP) into their BAM/BSM environment. Essentially, UC4 supports predictive business-process adjustments that are driven by real-time events from up and down the stack of application, middleware, and physical substrate. It supports decision, process, and service automation in an integrated solution family that can deploy in on-premises, virtual, and cloud environments. And it provides the forecasting and what-if analysis tools for business and IT domain experts to continue to tune their respective levels of the process stack.
Predictive processes are the future of agile business everywhere. While participating in this morning’s call by Pegasystems on its plans to acquire Chordiant, I was thinking about predictive processes for customer contact centers, a set of applications that both of those vendors support. I’m positive on this announced acquisition, bringing together one of the leading BPM/BAM vendors with one of the premier providers of platforms for conversation-driven customer relationship management processes. Chordiant is especially deep in predictive analytics tools for inline customer experience optimization in Web-facing multichannel contact management environments.
Going forward, I expect Pegasystems/Chordiant and other BPM/CRM platform vendors to tighten their relationships with BSM powerhouses such as BMC, HP, CA, and IBM. Partnerships such as this will form the basis for truly all-encompassing, full-stack process-optimization platforms. I also expect these vendors to partner with providers of predictive analytics and data mining (PA/DM) tools that support flexible deployment of predictive models into BPM platforms, CEP streams, data warehouses (DWs), and other enterprise application infrastructure. See my recently published Forrester Wave on PA/DM Solutions for further detail on tool vendor support for flexible model deployment.