Ultimus Reveals Plans for Adaptive Discovery

November 11, 2004

Recently, Ultimus unveiled plans to take its BPM platform to the next level. Based on the core belief by Ultimus that the greatest benefits from BPM come once an organization starts using an automated process, Adaptive Discovery™ technology is designed to get organizations to that point faster. In most cases, the time and effort spent mapping out a process and determining all of the various rules, exceptions, and changes is longer than anticipated, and it can drag out a BPM project indefinitely. This leads to pressure from management because deadlines slip, and the scope of the project begins to creep outwards.
The idea behind Adaptive Discovery™ is to enable organizations to define part of their processes up front, including user tasks, electronic forms, established routes, and integration points. Then, additional routes, task recipients, and rules can be added or changed once the process has been released. When defining rules, there is flexibility to not just change routing, but also call Web Services or launch other activities using pre-configured .NET assemblies. This enables the development team to get a new process up and running more quickly, meeting important business needs, while allowing for the ability to make changes as missing pieces are discovered or business rules change. Adaptive Discovery™ is designed to be flexible in terms of the amount of information that can be discovered – ranging from full discovery of rules and processes points to partial discover or leaving a process undiscovered.
Ultimus is currently in the finishing stages of the technology for Adaptive Discovery™ and will release it as part of Version 7.1 of the Ultimus BPM Suite in the first quarter of 2005 (Release 7.0 will hit in Q4 of this year, with a number of enterprise-scale enhancements made to the server, security, and administrative functions). The largest structural change for Version 7.1 of Ultimus BPM Suite is that it will include the Ultimus Rules Engine, a new addition to the product’s architecture, and a new module, Ultimus Director, that is used to handle processes implemented with the Adaptive Discovery technology.
Ultimus decided to come forward with the Adaptive Discovery™ announcements at this time to offer customers and the market the ability to better understand the new technology, determine the best usage model for their situations, and reconcile how they can adjust their current approach to BPM deployments.
Upside Uptake
There is no doubt that organizations are getting bogged down in the mapping and process definition aspects of Business Process Management. Bringing together business and IT managers, as BPM requires, involves the communion of two very different philosophies, and trying to hammer out all of the nuances of a long running, complicated business process in a way that can be translated into technology is frustrating at best.
Upside Research believes that existing BPM technologies will need to continue to find ways to make the entire mapping and process discovery phase more straightforward and streamlined to ensure that the momentum felt when a BPM project is launched continues through production, delivering a successful automated process on schedule. While a number of vendors have focused on making their graphical mapping interfaces easier, including drag-and-drop and zero-code enhancements, taking this a step further and allowing the BPM engine to anticipate some of the process flows and help with the process discovery is desirable.
While Ultimus has only just announced this new technology, which the market will not see for another five months, Upside Research believes that new approaches like Ultimus’ Adaptive Discovery™ are definitely a step in the right direction for BPM, potentially enabling a broader range of organizations (or departments) to use BPM for a broader, perhaps less well-defined set of business processes. From interviews with various enterprise organizations, Upside Research believes that there’s a large market opportunity for BPM vendors that can practically and efficiently automate and manage business processes that might not warrant weeks or months of in-depth process modeling. As such, Ultimus is setting the direction for further enhancements in the process mapping and modeling stages of BPM. It remains to be seen how customers will use the technology once they have it in hand, and how well it will help to balance the endless struggle between IT and business process owners. However, one thing is certain: BPM is forging ahead, and should continue to be responsive to both IT and business needs.

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