We’ve been monitoring acitivity in the BPM market with an eye on the connections between ECM and BPM technologies as they apply to content-centric business processes and applications. The evolution of BPM suites has been particularly interesting and in many ways, analogous to the patterns that formed the current ECM suite market. Technology convergence, vendor consolidation, a full slate of interchangeable acronyms, and rising levels of market confusion surrounding the definitive list of suite-level components are all evident as the BPM suite market continues to define itself. Sound familiar?

BPM suites are clearly an emerging market. Broadly defined as the ability to model, execute, simulate, and optimize business processes, the market consolidates technologies such as analytical modeling, rules design and execution, workflow, data aggregation, and process optimization into a single platform vision. Numerous pure-play BPM providers within each technology segment are evolving toward “the vision” in different ways.

I am positive that this is not a “never the twain shall meet” situation when it comes to content strategies and ECM technologies. Process and content are siblings; it is only a matter of time before many of the isolated technologies that support both will merge in a more tangible manner than simple workflow. This kind of ECM and BPM intersection is more complex than the traditional integration of the BPM market’s straight-through processing (STP) expertise with data-centric, transactional content. Rather, it will be an emerging focus on what we view as process content, or content that travels through a complex, human-driven, interactive, and iterative lifecycle.

EMC’s acquisition of ProActivity is a tangible indicator of this evolving intersection, demonstrated as well by BEA’s acquisition of Fuego, FileNet’s ongoing investment in its BPM components, the progression of DM/BPM players such as Global 360 and Hyland Software, and Lombardi Software’s integration with Microsoft Office. Stay tuned for more as the market heads toward cohesive vertical and horizontal solutions — critical for both traction and helping the user community understand implementation value. We’ll keep you posted.