Verticalising BPM with Adobe

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In the recent Bloor Market Update on BPMS, I talked about one of the ways BPMS vendors were innovating to differentiate themselves was through a verticalisation approach. At a recent meeting with Kumar Vora, Adobe’s Vice President and General Manager for Adobe LiveCycle, I was given an overview of Adobe’s approach. This not only involved themselves building what they call solutions accelerators but also creating a vertical marketplace for their partners to deliver solutions on their platform.

First a little background for those of you not aware of the BPM part of the Adobe product portfolio. Adobe entered the BPM market with the acquisition of Accelio in 2002. Vora explained that initially Adobe’s entry was very form and document centric. However over the last 4 years, Vora said that there had been 2 major evolutions of the product: firstly Adobe has concentrated on developing the business process management piece that is needed under the forms and document presentations; and secondly they have put a great emphasis on the user experience of working with a business process. “Users are becoming more experienced with interfaces that are found in consumer products such as Turbo Tax or Quicken and are expecting them in many types of online functions, whether submitting data for construction permits, filling out an insurance claim form, or participating in a RFQ process for a sub-assembly. These interfaces can ‘take a user by the hand’ and lead them through a complex process a step at a time, asking them for relevant information in an intuitive manner, certifying sensitive information, providing them the information they need at each stage in the process, and even capturing signatures for non-repudiation, all online.”

Adobe LiveCycle ES, from a technology viewpoint, is a J2EE-based sandwich with a common API layer for ECM and databases and an ECLIPSE-based development environment (which integrates with Flex Builder) encasing the heart of the product, a set of solution components for data capture, information assurance and document output supported by a process engine and a content services engine. Figure 1 shows this architecture. The development environment and common API layer are free. The only pieces that have a price are the services in the middle and users do not have to purchase all of these components, only what they require!

Adobe LiveCycle ES Product Architecture

Figure 1: Adobe LiveCycle ES Product Architecture (Source: Adobe)

Adobe’s “go-to-market” strategy for LiveCycle is about supporting their 4 key verticals of financial services, government, manufacturing and life sciences. This verticalisation strategy is based around support for particular standards that are relevant to a vertical; a partner strategy involving ISVs and Sis; and finally, the delivery of a series of “solution accelerators”, which are a combination of templates and best practice for a vertical in a scaffolding manner. A little bit more about these solution accelerators, because they are slightly different to what I have seen from other BPM vendors. Vora explained, “A solution accelerator does need to be customised as it only provides between 30 to 60 % of the total solutions. However Adobe are providing these free.” What Bloor also learnt is that Adobe has placed the LiveCylce Developer Express Offering—LC—on the Amazon Cloud for developer use-case.

So far Adobe has produced 2 horizontal solution accelerators covering correspondence management and enrolment/on-Boarding. Vora explained that even these are verticalised, for example Enrolment in financial services becomes new account opening and in life sciences becomes new product trial. Adobe has put this whole proposition together into an easy-to-use architecture which includes solutions guides as shown in Figure 2.

Solution Accelerator Kits

Figure 2: Solution Accelerator Kits (Source: Adobe)

Bloor views this as one of the best thought verticalisation strategies available currently in the BPMS market. This verticalisation will go a long way to reduce the “time to delivery ” for ROI of a project from the current agile viewpoint of 3 months to closer to current economic climate need of 1 month!.