|Written by Jon Pyke|
The demise of any company, especially innovative ones such as COGHEAD is always a sad event, and in the never ending quest for new business there has been a raft of vendors (me included through Cordys, via The Process Factory) has made offers of a safe harbor for those customers left stranded. But I think there’s a problem.
The market for defining and developing situational applications is going to be very competitive, make no mistake. Unfortunately most of the vendors vying for the Coghead business have completely missed the point. This market is not about mash ups, it goes much deeper than that. Situational Application Provisioning is a very different proposition from what we think of as applications it therefore represents a very different opportunity and is a mechanism whereby a user can put together an “application” based around normal working patterns, using readily available services.
This means that is possible to handle any sort of business problem usually tackled by enterprise solutions by being able to leverage the capability to associate virtually any number of web services within the context of an application. This results in an approach which could be called Process Provisioning – this is effectively an application generator within a process and is inherently more flexible, easier to provide, easier to manage and easier to use than traditional “ERP” type products. Most software companies think on-demand applications (SaaS) are a replacement for traditional business software. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Sure, these software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications are sold as a service and paid for per-transaction, but they are developed, sold and delivered in the same manner as traditional licensed software.
The most successful software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies do not think of themselves as software companies selling software on-demand, but as Web companies with business users accessing a service over the Internet. These companies realize that to effectively start and grow a SaaS business, they need to act more like a consumer-based Web company than a traditional enterprise software company.
There are two clear reasons for needing process technology to underpin the provision of these applications:
1. Rapid Innovation – Ra-In Clouds (CapGemini term)
The cloud is the ideal mechanism for utilizing extensive computing power – be that storage or specific applications such as SalesForce.com. As it stands it saves you money. It doesn’t help you innovate – the cloud does not enable you to simply build applications to meet the needs – process technology, in its broadest sense, lets you do this in an easy and flexible way – the processes orchestrate the interaction and integration of services.
Situational Applications can be very disruptive and lead to anarchy and a breakdown of corporate governance and compliance. Think of all those Excel spreadsheets – situational Applications – that are used to run most businesses – no control no compliance no ownership. Process enablement of these types of applications will provide ownership, control and auditablity – making the compliant with the corporate demands without stifling innovation and change.
In order to truly leverage the power of the SaaS model, we need to reconsider the SaaS BPM proposition – we shouldn’t think of this as BPM as a Service, more a platform as a service, a redefined application server if you will.
SaaS applications that emulate consumer Web sites in the way they are developed and sold tend to achieve much more success than those that emulate traditional enterprise software. Therefore we need to put the application in the hands of the consumer not the technician.
Software companies that cast a blind eye to the Web-based model, whether originating online, migrating to SaaS or taking a hybrid approach, will find that the ever-winding road to success will be a frustrating excursion on the road to nowhere.