Monday, December 31, 2007

Has BAM failed ?

Last posting in the year 2007 - we don't celebrate new year as an holiday, but since the civilized world is using the Gregorian calendar and not the Hebrew calendar we tend to celebrate holidays according the Hebrew calendar and do everything else by the Gregorian calendar.
Anyway - this posting is another in the series of responses to Colin White's article. This time I'll refer to one sentence in that article: This is somewhat analogous to the way business activity monitoring (BAM) solutions were developed independently from the existing business intelligence environment. BAM failed, and the solution was to instead build embedded BI applications that supported the concept of BAM, but which also were integrated with traditional BI processing. The claim is simple:
  • The sin - BAM solutions were developed outside the true religion of BI;
  • The punishment - BAM failed;
  • The redemption - Embedded BI applications have included the concept of BAM -- and lived happily ever after.

In order to analyze this claim - let's first define what "BAM solutions" are. BAM - Business activity monitoring (or management) stands for a class of applications that observe the behavior of business activities (business processes, transactions, applications etc..), in a non politically correct terminology (well, we are lagging behind USA, we have not invented political correctness yet) I can call it "the big brother is watching", a term that is sometimes used is "observation" - the essence is -- look at business activity from the outside, and try to find situations that are of interest - can be major situations like - threats and opportunities, but most of them are micro issues that need to be observed, maybe fixed, maybe just watched closely.

Now for the question of failure or success -- Bill Gassman from Gartner claims in his talks that 65% of the BAM solutions are industry specific, and general purpose software accounts only to 35% of the BAM solutions. Indeed, while the notion of observation is general, what we would like to observe and how is very much domain dependent. Performance management that trace Key Performance Indicators is one flavor that has been generalized, but many of the BAM solutions are not about tracing aggregates or measurements, but about tracing individual situations in the business activities: delivery has failed, to meet the deadline, customer has complained and not handled well, medical treatment has been done outside the protocol for that disease - there are examples from all industries for it. Event Processing is a useful technology in cases where the BAM solution is event-driven, and its input is event. Some of the BAM situations are detected on-line, some of them are detected in retrospect - and I'll talk about retrospective event processing in another posting. General BAM systems are useful for some cases - and are less useful for others.

So - my 2 cents opinion about Colin White's claims:

  • The concept of BAM has not failed - there are many success stories, however the area has not reached maturity. General purpose BAM are effective for some of the BAM market, but many BAM solutions are more industry-specific -- event processing is useful both for the general-purpose BAM market and for the industry-specific BAM market.
  • And as for BAM on top of BI -- according to Gassman this accounts for 10% of the BAM solutions market, so while it has certainly its own variety of application, the majority of the BAM market is not a BI market.

P.S - the picture above is of a skateboard called BAM -- and I hope it sells well - click for a free advertisement to skateboards

More - Later.

1 comment:

Soumadeep said...

Hi Opher,

I can't agree more. I developed a BAM product about 5 years back but didn't get any traction from the clients. The space was so fuzzy that it became really difficult to convince the people that BAM is different from BI. But I guess the big players have something else in mind.

Now, after five years of struggling, some of us got together and re-built the product and we are positioning it differently with a dependency on SOA.

If you get the time do have a look at Have a look at the datasheet it has most of the details.

Will be looking forward to your feedback

Best regards