The ability of business process management (BPM) software to capture and dynamically manage business logic with integrated application services is turning it into the next "killer app" software, says Delphi Group, a Boston- based consulting firm.

Business process management applications enable the design, analysis, optimization and automation of a business process by separating the process logic – or business rules – from the tools that run them. It integrates internal and external resources, and monitors the overall success of the process.

In a worldwide survey of more than 200 organizations across more than 20 industries, Delphi found only 12 percent are using BPM software. But 55 percent of respondents say they are actively evaluating BPM packages, and 63 percent of the companies plan to deploy a system within the next seven to 12 months. Most of the remaining firms except to deploy BPM within two to three years. Thus, 2002 will be the "pivotal year" for BPM, says Barry Murphy, Delphi Group analyst.

"Vendors have refined their BPM offerings to build on historic positions of strength," Murphy notes. "Whether their origins are in managing document- centric or transaction-centric processes, process automation and workflow, exception handling, process or application integration, collaborative commerce or the separation of application logic from the process logic, each companies' goal remains the same: to beef up functionality to provide holistic BPM."

Developers of BPM applications, meanwhile, are well positioned to ride the Web services wave as the evolution of that market occurs, Delphi notes. Web services, the firm adds, will not replace BPM functionality, but will enhance the ability of BPM vendors to deliver real value to their customers.

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