The field of Business Process Management is not a huge field, but I believe it to be an important one for empowering the transformation of businesses.  As an Enterprise Architect, my mission is to accelerate that transformation.  Therefore, to be aligned to my own mission, I support the increased use of practices and technologies that remove obstacles to business agility.  Business Process Management is one such set of practices and technologies.  (There are others, of course).


The BPM2010 conference is a primarily research-based conference steered by luminaries that include  Wil van der Aalst, the author of the Workflow Patterns and the YAWL system.  Dr. Michael zur Muehlen of Stevens Institute of Technology found me on the blogosphere and asked me to come and present, which I did.  I consider myself to be fortunate to be in the presence of people who are as accomplished, intelligent, and visionary as the presenters at this conference.  This is the first time that this conference is in the US, and it won’t be back for at least a couple more years.  It is a shame that the US is so far behind in helping to develop the science of BPM.

The keynote on the first morning, from Phil Gilbert of IBM (formerly of Lombardi) makes the case that the future of BPM is to embrace the cloud.  In addition, he makes the case that we will see the democratization of business process management and the disintermediation of the “experts.” 

The notion of democratization is interesting to me.  I look forward to that possibility.  To be honest, I don’t think we are all that close, but my mind is open.  BPM is a highly specific field, requiring considerable training and experience.  The development of layers of indirection necessary to truly hide that level of complexity is not yet in evidence.  I suspect that the abstractions will be leaky, at least for a long time.  Perhaps with the development of more “plug and play” patterns, we can empower average business people to get value out of working with the tools directly.  Not sure. 

I tried to strike up a conversation on this idea with one of the vendor teams.  No luck.  I don’t think we are all that close.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

One thought on “Enjoying the BPM 2010 Conference”
  1. Hi Nick,

    What a wonderful honor to present at the conference. I too hope that BPM will take hold a bit more here in the US. I really enjoyed learning Alex Osterwalder's methodology. In a nutshell, it broke down the business in an easy to understand manner. It has given me a new perspective when I approach technology solutions, documentation, training etc.

    BPM applied at the right layers could accelerate and refine decision-making processes if democratized. Did Phil Gilbert discuss why it is not currently democratized and how to accomplish this? How is it going to be any different than some of the other business management methods that some times crash and burn?

    My concern is that it will get buried in select departments or only amongst those in director of above roles. Additionally, the method by which a business determines organization structural change seems reactive rather than proactive. When reactive structural changes are made, often times embedded processes that facilitate interorganizational synchronicity is lost. When finally regain, it typically is at the expense of failed projects. How to insure that doesn't happen or implement BPM with a methodology that accounts for broken synchronicity and is largely self-healing.

    When BPM does catch on…I plan to catch that wave 😉

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