The executive dashboard may be among the keys to bridging SOA and BPM, say viewers. Such dashboards can give the business side a better view into the integrated enterprise. BPM platform vendors like Oracle are taking note.
Business users may not understand SOA, BPM, CEP or XTP, but they know what they want to see on their dashboard and they may be willing to fund backend architecture and development projects to get more information faster, says Roy Schulte, vice president of Gartner.
Schulte believes that the business side need for situational awareness is driving a lot of SOA and BPM development in enterprise IT.
Amlan Debnath, senior vice president, Server Technologies, Oracle, agreed with Schulte's assessment of the importance of the dashboard to business users. In keeping with that trend, this week's release of Oracle Business Process Management 10g Release 3 includes enhanced dashboard features allowing business users to customize their view of data coming from Oracle's SOA technologies including CEP, ESB and BPEL. Oracle's Coherence XTP also integrates with the BPM platform.
Focusing on the dashboard helps bridge to oft lamented gap between SOA/BPM developers and the sales manager who is primarily interested in up-to-the-minute information on inventory shipped rather than three-letter technology acronyms.
For those on the business side, Oracle is offering more dashboard control for non-technical users, including the ability to customize views and even select what services they want feeding what information onto their screens.
"If users don't like the standard dashboard they can customize it and save it as their own," Debnath said. "It's like My Yahoo. This is my view of the dashboard."
Users can aggregate information from multiple processes that are of interest to them or impacted by them and create what Oracle calls a "process workspace" where they keep all their business critical information. They can reach across multiple BPM servers for that information.
"They can bring in information from multiple BPM users, multiple BPM processes, multiple BPM servers onto one dashboard," Debnath said. "That becomes their workspace. Here I have my to-do lists, my charts and graphs all on the same page. For business users that is the most important thing."
What business users pay attention to is the information produced by SOA and BPM implementations and they tend to see CEP providing them with quick access to data for "situational awareness" of business conditions, explains Gartner analyst Schulte.
"In a lot of cases the business people are willing to authorize the development project because they are going to get the dashboard of the situation awareness," he said. "Then that brings in SOA and BPM because to actually do this you have to change the backend applications to some extent and you want to refurbish some of the infrastructure."