This is the fifth in a series of articles I shall be producing based on a major piece of research being undertaken by Bloor Research on the BPMS market. For those of you who read this site regularly you will know that I wrote an article on Singularity in November 2007 (Singularity Process Platform: still one to watch!). So 8 months on, what has happened?
Singularity were one of the first BPMS vendors to recognise the importance of verticalisation and this was not just in terms of the product but also in terms of the sales and consultancy support, with the company set up in vertical sales divisions. Their expertise and knowledge of the Capital Markets, Government and Telecommunications market has led them to develop business solutions on top of the Process Platform.
Michael White, Singularity's Marketing Manager, stated that in some of their recent wins they were beating well-established vertical solutions due to the inherent flexibility of the underlying BPM technology. There is some argument as to whether verticalisation is a good thing or bad thing—well, from a Bloor viewpoint if this helps the customer solve their problem quicker then this has to be a good thing! As White said, "Our verticalisation approach can be thought of as market segmentation. We identified parts of the market we can service really well and developed appropriate solutions for them, making significant investments in people and technology. This is standard high-tech strategy from "Crossing the Chasm" and it is serving us very well."
Singularity has also made headway in terms of penetrating the US market, not only through sales to existing customers' US operations but also new sales through a reseller network that they have developed. White told me that 20% of their revenue is now coming from the US.
Singularity stated to Bloor that they saw their differentiators from their competitors as:
- Best support for Knowledge Centric and Case Management processes - this was an accolade that Gartner gave them in their December 2007 Magic Quadrant review. The capability was first introduced in version 3.4 of the product and has continued to be built out in 3.5, 3.6 and upcoming 3.7. One of the differences Bloor have noticed about the Singularity approach is that they want workers to be able to access previous case lessons and so they have introduced support for a Wiki based ‘handbook', which documents by task, activity, process and case, therefore adding to a case body of knowledge. Singularity has also made use of a number of usability features to assist with support for this type of process.
- Agile, iterative delivery (Singularity ASAP) - Singularity makes a big play around "Agility", even citing this as a key differentiator. The company's mission statement also stresses agility: "To be the global leader in Business Process Agility". In late 2006, Singularity launched their own Agile methodology called ASAP and in June 2008 they gained CMMI Level 3 with the methodology. White told me that the product roadmap had been modified to provide further Agile support, particularly in the areas of usability, rapid prototyping, faster and easier forms generation and faster deployment. Singularity is making use of games technology and animation to support early visualization. White concluded by saying that the Agile approach was now being used internally for product development and process improvement, and these internal processes have also been certified at CMMI level 3.
- High-speed solution prototyping and deployment - Elimination of software coding resulting in ‘zero code'; Ease of integration—these are almost a standard statement that Bloor have been given by all BPMS vendors. These are qualities that any prospective BPMS user is looking for. The assessment of delivery of them when compared to others is in hands of the implementers as it depends on how they feel the product helps them achieve their targets.
- Collaboration support - having as part of the product set a portal component is certainly a plus point. However many organisations have a portal product already installed and in use and therefore it is important that a BPMS vendor's portal can be incorporated into other products. Singularity manages to do both, so another claim is substantiated.
- Broad and deep support for Microsoft technologies - as a product built upon a Microsoft platform then it is perhaps surprising that Singularity are not yet part of Microsoft's Business Process Alliance. However this does not mean that Singularity do not make use of the platform they are based on to provide support for Microsoft Office Suite. In release 3.7 they have provided deep integration to SharePoint Server, BizTalk Server, Office Communications Server, Exchange Server and Dynamics CRM.
So here we have a BPM product that has been developed and built in the UK, based on and exploiting the Microsoft .NET platform, that has reached the first level of BPM rigour with all the standard facilities of process modelling support, systems integration, support for human workflow, support for forms and report design,and provide the ability the monitor and manage the process.
However, in addition to all that is involved in the first level, Singularity has also developed an easy-to use approach to supporting what Bloor terms Knowledge Intensive Processes, one of the key requirements in Bloor's vision of the second level of BPM. With Singularity now taking their message to the USA, this is definitely an organisation going places.