Business Processes Key in IBM Products Launch

&IBM has rolled out new products to help companies become more efficient and handle bottlenecks in their business processes. The solutions add to IBM's arsenal of business process management (BPM) and service-oriented architecture (SOA) offerings.

There are essentially three characteristics to IBM's announcement, according to Beth Smith, vice president, WebSphere solutions and tooling.

"One [characteristic of the announcement] is how we are extending some capabilities from a business strategy perspective," she said. "[There are] a couple of announcements around BPM enabled by SOA and how we continue to make that more real. And the third one is in the area of enabling customers to quickly build composite business applications."

Businesses can evaluate their position relative to global market opportunities using IBM's new Globally Integrated Enterprise Assessment tool. The tool meshes with IBM's approach to using an SOA, and "helps clients assess themselves at five different levels," according to Smith. This assessment essentially breaks down into evaluating six global competencies:

  • Managing value through a specialized ecosystem;
  • Effectively managing risk and control;
  • Forging a components strategy;
  • Enabling modular business processes;
  • Fostering global collaboration; and
  • Harnessing the power of globalization.

IBM also is offering a new version of its WebSphere Business Monitor product to help companies track the performance of key business processes. The reporting capabilities of the product have been enhanced. It also supports patterns, allowing businesses to create common types of business measures and then reuse them as best practices. There are also improved dashboard views, tracking key performance indicators, as well as the capability to incorporate Google maps.

On the BPM side, IBM is announcing a new Benchmark Wizard that uses key agility indicators to assess business performance. The Wizard incorporates IBM's knowledge from more than 16,000 client engagements plus over 1,200 industry standards from the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC).

Finally, IBM is highlighting the availability of its industry-specific content packs, which are prebuilt business service templates for specific industries that work with the WebSphere Business Services Fabric.

The packs can "speed the time to development and time to market of composite business applications," Smith said. "They are optimized for use across a broader enterprise ecosystem, based on industry and technology standards, and are very much extendable."

Current industry content packs for the WebSphere Business Services Fabric that are now available include:

  • IBM Banking Payments Pack;
  • IBM Telecom Operations Pack;
  • IBM Healthcare Payor Content Pack; and
  • IBM Insurance Property Casualty Pack.

Companies looking to enhance their processes can have various starting points using these IBM products. A company doesn't have to have an SOA in place to assess its business strategy, Smith explained.

For example, WebSphere Business Monitor is a way to measure and monitor key performance indicators related to your business processes. Some customers start their SOA deployments with WebSphere Business Monitor because they want to understand how they are performing today and then determine the process changes they may or may not want to implement, Smith said. On the other hand, WebSphere Business Services Fabric, using IBM's industry content packs, represents another way customers start with SOA deployments to meet specific industry productivity needs.

The new products are all part of IBM's general approach of using BPM to enable SOA, Smith affirmed.

"SOA is valuable to lines of businesses, not just IT -- and that's what brings these sets of announcements together," she added.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.