Big Blue has used its Impact conference to do a little bit of spring cleaning around its business process management (BPM) software. Among the range of tweaking and introductions, which it has been promising for a while, is the release of a unified business process platform, as well as a range of services to help those who are turning their attention to BPM as a way of saving money.

Business Process Manager

The idea behind the new Business Process Manager is to give users an enterprise-wide view of processes so they can change them globally rather than in a piecemeal fashion.

The result for the end user is the ability to build, or automate, processes within departments such as product development or customer services in such a way as to provide visibility on the effects of these new processes across the enterprise.

According to IBM, Business Process Manager is a platform that can scale from an initial project to an enterprise-wide program and pulls everything into one environment that breaks down silos.

However, while it does provide a new shared repository to which users can gain access through one interface, the process engines that are used to create and modify the processes are still running separately. It can also work with content management systems and other BPM systems such as IBM FileNet BPM, which it got with the FileNet buy some years ago.

BPM Consulting Services

The second part of the announcement in relation to BPM is the addition of global consulting services that it will offer to companies that have decided to go the BPM route to deploy new systems or improve on those that exist already.

Using its established network of consultants, it will offer enterprises advice and expertise on transforming processes at all points in process development.

Under a new umbrella service called IBM Method for Business Process Optimization, it will bring to bear Big Blue’s tried-and-tested practices to address issues such as agility, or gaps in their processes that prevents enterprises from optimizing existing data and processes.

IBM also says it is introducing a number of products as well as upgrading established products to make them more effective in the enterprise. Among them are:

  • Blueworks Live: IBM’s SaaS cloud-based software that accelerates business process and makes them visible across an enterprise
  • Business Monitor: Integrated with Cognos business intelligence, it offers real-time operational visibility
  • BPM Industry Packs: Software designed to enhance BPM software for banking, healthcare and telecommunications

BPM Business

If IBM has been spending a lot of time around BPM over the past year, it is hardly surprising, given that Gartner’s (news, siteBPM Market Share: All Software Markets, Worldwide, 2010, published at the end of last month, said that BPM growth in 2010 alone was in the region of 9.2%.

That growth will continue at a similar rate into the foreseeable future. It also seems that IBM’s BPM investment has paid off, with more than twice the market share of any other company in the space.

To put this in perspective, the Tech CEO Council Report 2010 estimates that inefficient business processes cost Fortune 500 companies alone more than US $480 billion a year and even more in the public sector, where organizations have lost up to US$ 1.3 trillion per year through inefficiency.