Enterprise mashups bring IT, LOB collaboration to BPM

Applications are combined via enterprise mash-up tools to streamline Business Processes Management. The tools now blur the line between application development and the line-of-business. Serena, IBM, Cordys and others have begun to offer enterprise mashup tools.

Increasingly, multiple applications are combined using enterprise mashup tools with the goal of streamlining Business Processes Management (BPM). Serena, IBM, Cordys and others have begun to offer enterprise mashup tools, furthering the trend. At times, these tools and processes have blurred the once well defined line between application development and the line-of-business (LOB).

Enterprise mashups, sometimes referred to as Web 2.0 or web application hybrids, are applications that combine two or more sources to create a new service. The new service saves money and time and appears to be increasing in popularity.

In the old days, if the business 'guys' wanted to change the color of something, they'd have to go to IT. Now, they can do that type of thing themselves.
Angle Diaz,
Director of Business Process Management  and ConnectivityIBM WebSphere

"Mashups are a way to quickly build processes," said Clay Richardson, senior analyst of business process management at Forrester Research. "People want to roll things out in weeks instead of months."

Companies need a fast, low-cost solution, so they turn to mashups. Despite a strong upsurge in BPM, some companies are challenged by the cost of integration projects. Richardson said more than half of BPM projects have received budget cuts, even though demand for BPM is accelerating.

Tim Zonca, director of product marketing for Serena Software, a company whose business mashup software has recently been implemented by the US Forest Service, thinks the demand for mashups has come from more than just the economy. "It's the right time. People are trying to save money, but they still have these problems to fix. It's also business trying to do IT and work more with that side," he said.

According to the US Forest Service, Serena's business mashups do just that. The service reconstructed some help desk processes with Serena mashup software, and it estimates it saved nearly forty process hours while clearing duplicate help desk tickets. The result was a better link between business and IT departments.

Jon Pyke, chief strategy officer of Cordys, agrees the demand has increased. Cordys recently announced it joined the Google Enterprise Partner program by adding Cordys Process Factory to Google Apps. It is a Platform-as-a-Service, and is designed to help companies rapidly build mashups.

"I think it's inevitable, really. Tools evolve and there has been a shift towards mashups," Pyke said.

Analyst Neil Ward-Dutton, research director for MWD Advisors, said he also sees IT and business blending more than ever before. "It's increasingly difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends. You have a much tighter collaboration between IT and business people," Ward-Dutton said.

As the business side takes over more and more IT responsibilities, some have suggested a major change in job responsibilities is underway.

For his part, Ward-Dutton says he sees a shift away from the notion that BPM is exclusively IT's job to do, but that it really depends on how centralized the organization is. Richardson agreed. He suggests a new role will emerge that combines business and technological ability.,

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Angel Diaz, director of IBM WebSphere business process management and connectivity, said there is still absolutely a role for the application developers, and that the business side taking over a bit of IT will allow developers to devote their time to more challenging projects.

"In the old days, if the business 'guys' wanted to change the color of something, they'd have to go to IT. Now, they can do that type of thing themselves," Diaz said.

IBM enables the business side to have more control with its WebSphere sMash, a program designed for quick and simple enterprise mashup construction. sMash is at the heart of BPM BlueWorks, announced last month. This is a cloud-based set of strategy and business process tools also designed to allow rapid deployment without involving IT, Diaz said.

Diaz also said developers have no need to worry about their jobs disappearing, "IT is still there."

Zonca said that the shift will free up developers to do more critical work. "They'll be able to focus their time and effort into applications that require coding," he said.

IBM, Cordys and Serena have all implemented mashup tools in-house to streamline their own business processes.

As enterprise mashups gain popularity, it is inevitable that IT and business will mesh, and that new roles will emerge. The relationship has become symbiotic, according to Diaz. He said, "You can't have one without the other. The power is in the collaboration of IT and business."

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