A spate of supplier acquisitions has highlighted increased interest in the business process management (BPM) approach to running IT systems, according to Butler Group.
The analyst firm will be speaking at an event in London later this week on how BPM could help IT directors to make a direct link between IT integration and what the business wants to achieve.
Acquisitions include search engine provider Autonomy announcing earlier this month it was to buy rival Verity. Last month, BPM supplier Metastorm said it would be acquiring BPM specialist Commercequest.
BPM is also a key component of Oracle's Fusion middleware strategy; and IBM is also enhancing its own BPM product, Websphere Process Manager.
Mike Thompson, principal analyst at Butler Group, said, "Integration and business process management are growing closer together." This is because IT integration needs to focus on adding business value, he added.
Butler Group believes the best approach to aligning an IT integration project with business needs is to consider each individual IT system as a defined service, then combine each of these using a service oriented architecture.
Butler analyst Tim Jennings recommended users should adopt a process-centric methodology for their IT integration projects. "This allows line-of-business managers to set an integration project in the context of operational activities, while enabling technical staff to map these activities to the underlying services," he said.
"Business Process Management is a natural partner for an SOA, providing the necessary capabilities for the business to define, simulate, execute, and monitor business processes, built on the foundations of the integration layer."
Butler: BPM takes work but is worth it
Butler Group analyst Tim Jennings said, "While the SOA-BPM combination is a powerful proposition, we should not underestimate the work required to achieve the desired results.As with previous IT models this should be viewed as a long-term strategy, rather than this year's project.
"It also requires careful attention to both business and technical issues, new methodologies and strong management, because IT history shows that it takes relatively little to turn a promising concept into a false dawn.
"This is something worth persevering with, and it is encouraging to note that the industry is now starting to address practical issues of implementation, and moving beyond the hype."