Late in the day today, likely after they saw my Lombardi Blueprint post, I received a message from Appian announcing that they had released an on-demand, subscription-based BPM service. This appears to be a SaaS version of their BPM suite, although it’s hard to tell since they only sent me the press release and a package of six screenshots in their email, most of which appear to show setup and admin screens (look! you can change colour schemes!).
The big difference between this and what Lombardi announced today is that this is the full BPM suite, not just a high-level process modeller. I’ve posted previously about Appian’s killer browser-based process designer, so it’s straightforward (although by no means trivial) for them to convert the whole shebang to a proper SaaS offering. Unlike Lombardi, it’s not clear whether they’ve added any Web 2.0/social software concepts such as collaboration, or whether this is just a straight-up deployment of their existing product. Since they didn’t brief me in advance, I don’t have a lot more information about it, but they’ve promised me a phone call sometime real soon. [Note to vendors: if you want analyst/bloggers to write about your stuff in any amount of detail on the day that it releases, it's a good idea to do that briefing ahead of time.]
I’ve been saying for some time that SaaS is coming for BPM. There have been a few attempts at this in the past, such as the Global 360-funded Process Factory, but nothing has really made any impact in the marketplace, not like Salesforce.com has done for sales automation. Appian, as an established BPM brand, could be the first to see some success in this area.