BAM can be used to monitor a single indicator, but in many cases the business processes and indicators it monitors are spread across many enterprise business applications -- ERP, SCM, MRP, or CRM -- that don't normally interact. That's why EAI vendors such as webMethods, Tibco, and SeeBeyond have jumped into the BAM market as a way to add value to their business integration offerings. But BAM is offered by many other types of vendors as well. Application and data integration work hand in hand, so business intelligence and real-time data integration vendors such as Informatica, Ascential Software, and Metatomix have also entered the space (the BAM solution offered by webMethods is the result of a partnership with Informatica).
IBM and Microsoft have muscled their way in, too. Two years ago, IBM purchased Holosofx, whose BAM software morphed into IBM's WebSphere Business Integration Monitor. And Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004, released in March, is the first version to offer BAM capability.
Meanwhile, pure-play BAM vendors, including iSpheres, firstRain, and Celequest, cater to organizations that may not need or want to invest in a full-fledged EAI solution. iSpheres provides its own adapters and specializes in correlating multiple asynchronous events in real time. Vendors iSpheres, Informatica, Vitria, and Celequest also offer vertical BAM solutions for financial services companies or health providers and related organizations, particularly for compliance.
ERP vendors PeopleSoft, SAP, and Oracle offer BAM-like monitoring features, but they tend to be simpler and less flexible than those of fully developed BAM solutions and limit themselves to ERP (or even one ERP app). Many of these vendors are working on implementing a more flexible BAM framework within their ERP solutions.
Even the IT infrastructure management vendors Micromuse, Computer Associates, and BMC are getting into the BAM act, though they tend to target IT rather than business managers, with the mission of "enabling the alignment of IT with business objectives." And BPM solutions from InterSystems, Lombardi Software, and others offer ways to monitor the business processes they manage.
"BAM is a function, not an application," Gassman says. "Just as we saw browsers become ubiquitous, real-time reporting will become ubiquitous."
BAM Finds Its Footing
So what is or isn't BAM and how does it fit in with BI, BPM, and other enterprise software that feeds on integration? To begin with, BAM is not business intelligence, which is rearview information, not real-time. BI users tend to be business analysts; BAM users are typically line-of-business managers. And BAM information tends to be focused rather than broad.
"In a data warehouse, you want to collect lots and lots of information that you can slice and dice a hundred ways for future analysis," says David Kelly, president of Upside Research. "BAM alerts the user based on a few carefully chosen business metrics and thresholds that affect the bottom line directly and require quick action."
Debbie Rosen, executive vice president of worldwide marketing at webMethods, agrees. "It's like the difference between looking at a live stock ticker symbol versus looking at the stock's 52 week history and company financial information. You want both."