Overwhelmed by Data? This Tool Could Help

Similarly, BPM can make mid-sized organizations much more efficient, since the various processes will be finite and manageable. For large enterprises, though, the value of BPM is less obvious, and when it is deployed, it’s often done so within specific information silos, minimizing the gains.

This is why analysts like Teubner have begun speculating about convergence. Of course, convergence is an overused buzzword for pretty much any technology trend, but with process and data management, convergence looks to be inevitable.

BPM touches on a number of similar technology solutions, including business intelligence (BI), master data management (MDM), data governance, and total quality management (TQM).

As Forrester sees it, the most logical point of convergence is between BPM and MDM. Master data management (MDM) strives to make an enterprise’s disparate data sources “trustworthy.” For instance, most organizations have business-critical information scattered all over the place, in CRM, SFA, ERP, and collaborative applications. Data is often replicated from application to application with little coordination or consistency.

The value of BPM/MDM consolidation is obvious. The processes that govern data creation within any given application would be more predictable through BPM, while MDM would ensure the consistency of data across applications.

“The goal of MDM is bigger than just having a single source of true data in some repository,” said Rob Karel, a Forrester analyst who focuses on MDM. “What’s important is having true information delivered – and delivered in context.” In other words, it could be described as a service-oriented view of data. Why the data is being delivered and to whom will often change the “truth” of that data.

“However, we’re probably still five years away from real convergence,” Karel said. “MDM and BPM are both siloed initiatives today. Companies are focusing on just customer data, say, or on product or financial data.”

According to Teubner, there has already been a convergence of sorts within BPM. Originally, BPM grew out of two separate movements, one from IT that attempted to integrate separate applications (integration-centric BPM) and another from management that came from the workflow market (human-centric BPM).

“The tools of each are very similar,” Teubner said, “but the buyers are different.” And the reality is that the “buyers” greatly influence what tools fall under various technology umbrellas.

According to Karel, both management and IT are rethinking how organizations create and manage data. “Slowly the business side of the enterprise is noticing that they need to take a more active role in owning data. At the same time, IT is realizing that without the backing of business, their initiatives tend to under-deliver or fail outright.”

The end result is that the real convergence needs to happen above the technology level. When IT and business management are more closely aligned, technologies like BPM and MDM will have a fighting chance to expand beyond data silos. “IT initiatives that engage the business, such as SOA, could unlock doors,” Karel predicted.