As we move to a service oriented economy, more and more software vendors are beginning to offer their software solutions and infrastructure platforms as a service. Some of these vendors include big names like Google, Microsoft, SalesForce.com and Amazon. For example, while salesforce.com originally offered a CRM solution as a service, it has now opened up its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) infrastructure platform to other solutions providers. Similarly Amazon, the largest online retailer, realized that one of the keys to its success was the reliability of its underlying platform and now offers it in the form of a “Cloud” for other solution providers to leverage.
So if we can buy applications on an iPhone on an as-needed basis and use them immediately, why can’t we get business process improvement solutions as a service and only pay for the processes that we need and plan to use immediately? I believe it is coming. In addition to the process solutions, customers will be able to get only the industry metrics, rules, reports and dashboards relevant to their business processes on a pay-as-you scale basis.
For applications to be offered as a service and gain mass acceptance, they must be 100% server based and require only a thin client like a browser with minimal or no plug-ins. Applications that require a thick client are not ideal candidates for adaptation to the SaaS model. Examples of successful SaaS based offerings today include Google Search and Gmail. Their ubiquitous nature is by design, thus allowing them to be accessed from home, office or mobile device. Google Search users don’t need to know or care whether the service is running on Google’s campus, at one of their many global data centers or within one of their computing clouds – they simply expect a relevant search within an acceptable amount of time.
One of the key differences between today’s successful services and Business Process Management (BPM) software is that the former is designed and built for end-users, while the latter, even in hosted form, requires technical and business users to configure and customize the infrastructure to the customers’ specific process requirements before any value is delivered. In my opinion, the first wave of Business Process Improvement as a Service (BPIS) is likely to include industry based solutions built on 100% server based BPM infrastructure and intended to tackle the most commonly faced challenges within that industry. Examples of early BPIS based solutions could include regulatory compliance monitoring for certain critical business processes within the Financial Services and Pharmaceutical industries.
Our research in this area continues. More on this topic in my next post. Use the comment section below to share your thoughts and observations. Do follow Princeton Blue on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Google+ to get updates about BPM and related technologies.