Whereas BI pulls information from a data warehouse, BAM tends to tap information sources directly, linking to a message broker for example, or using a very low-latency data store. Information gleaned from BI, however, often plays a role in choosing hot spots for BAM to monitor. "Your BI analyst will tell you these are the predictive measures and types of things that lead to problems, so you can start using BAM to catch those things as they happen," says Scott Fingerhut, senior product marketing manager at Tibco. In fact, some BAM solutions continuously compare BAM information to historical data to provide context.
BAM also works hand in hand with BPM, which provides a means of developing end-to-end processes across a range of enterprise business applications (see "The click-and-drag enterprise"). "BAM might send out a notification that a salesperson hasn't called a threshold number of prospects, while BPM might shift some work from one person's work queue to another automatically," Upside Research's Kelly says. On the other hand, BAM typically can expose more business metrics than BPM, because it can consume data outside of a typical BPM process. And BAM can solve problems that BPM can't. "For example, you could automate a process with BPM so that it runs very well technically, but still loses tons of money," Tibco's Fingerhut points out.
The BAM market is small and young. "At this point the whole market is at the $100 [million] to $200 million level," Gassman says. "It's still in the learning and experimenting stage for most companies." Some of the principal users so far are financial service companies and currency traders, which need to make quick investing decisions based on numerous and varied information sources, including news feeds. Health care organizations and hospitals are using BAM for epidemic outbreak and bioterrorism detection as well as monitoring emergency room visits to determine how many beds they may need.
Many telecommunications firms are using BAM to monitor service levels and speed up provisioning. "We use Tibco's BusinessFactor to monitor each stage of the ADSL provisioning process to make sure our accounts are in line with key performance indicators," says Christian Righi, manager of eFoundation Projects at Telecom Italia. "We can get live information on which orders are bottlenecked at which stage of the process in which region of Italy."
Making the BAM Connection
Just about everyone agrees that a successful BAM implementation comes from starting small, using what you have, modeling relevant business processes, focusing tightly on a few important KPIs, and marrying business users with IT.
Integration is a significant part of the BAM implementation process, so if you've already gone through EAI or some other form of business integration, it makes sense to leverage what you have in place and seriously consider what BAM capabilities your integration vendor offers. "Don't ask for all those references, benchmarks, '-ilities', and
'-isms'," says the vice president of enterprise services at a large, Midwestern regional bank that uses webMethods-based BAM. "Just pick the product that's in line with your integration strategy."
If you haven't invested heavily in integration and don't plan to, check out some of the pure-play vendors or a vertical solution. "Pure-play vendors often compete with the vertical vendor that knows everything there is to know about Wal-Mart," Gassman says. The trade-off is generally between flexibility and a deep knowledge of your business.