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A Promising Future for IBM BPM

Continuing his discussion on application platforms, Joseph Gulla explores business process management (BPM).

For the last three weeks, I have been writing about WebSphere® Application Server. That application platform is one of the most innovation products in IBM’s middleware portfolio. WebSphere traditional continues to thrive, including a new toolset, while WebSphere Liberty was developed to meet the needs of the cloud marketplace. This application platform is not IBM’s only innovative middleware. Starting this week, I will begin to discuss others. This week, I want to focus on business process management (BPM).

What Is BPM and How Big Is the Market?

The BPM market size is expected to grow from $8.8 billion in 2020 to $14.4 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate of 10.5% during the forecast period. There are many factors that are expected to drive the growth of the BPM market. These include the integration of BPM, AI and machine learning technologies. In spite of decades of software developed to help businesses, there is still a great need for automated business processes to reduce manual error and to meet customers’ changing requirements.

Automation: A Big Part of BPM

Business process automation (BPA) is the automation of complex business processes and functions. BPA is beyond just conventional data manipulation and record keeping activities, and it’s often assisted through the use of advanced technologies. That’s where AI can play an important role. BPA is a dimension of BPM that focuses on running the business, not just keeping inventory and helping with accounting.  

What Is IBM’s Automation Software Platform?

The IBM Automation Software Platform, IBM Cloud Pak® for Automation, is a product used to digitally transforms how work gets done. The platform includes a set of capabilities to automate end-to-end workflows and human tasks and decisions. It can also be used to share and manage content and to analyze data from content. The product is built on a common analytics layer, which makes it possible to gain insights and action into operational performance.
This product is one of a number of IBM Cloud Pak offerings that are an integrated set of AI-infused software solutions for hybrid cloud that help organizations implement intelligent workflows to accelerate digital transformation. The current set includes:
  • IBM Cloud Pak for Applications: Build, run and modernize applications
  • IBM Cloud Pak for Data: Collect, organize and analyze data
  • IBM Cloud Pak for Integration: Integrate applications, data, cloud services and APIs
  • IBM Cloud Pak for Automation: Digitize and automate more types of work at scale
  • IBM Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management: Improve cloud visibility, governance and automation
  • IBM Cloud Pak for Security: Connect security data, tools and workflows

Opportunities With IBM Automation Software Platform

Developers and technologists like to use the phrase “use cases,” which is just another way of saying “Here are significant, specific solutions.” IBM Cloud Pak for Automation can be better understood in the content of use cases. Here are three simple examples of product use cases:
  1. Paperless back office works better because unattended bots are used to automate manual tasks such as data collection and reporting, managing orders and calculating payroll amounts
  2. Using attended bots to assist human workers to improve the quality and responsiveness to customers and other stakeholders delivers better front-office support
  3. Self-service is made better with intelligent chatbots and interactive voice response to answer questions and handle simple tasks without human intervention

Significant Next Steps

It’s not a surprise that this kind of automation is the next step in what we can expect of IT software. Decades ago, when IT was a tool to improve record keeping and general computing, everyone anticipated that the software they were using was just the beginning. Making the most of AI makes sense. Bots can act on AI insights to complete tasks quickly. That makes sense, too. With intelligent automation, IT is likely to continue the charter to “focus better on business” by providing the best of what technology can bring us.

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