It seems that marketing departments and buyers need to be very careful nowadays. There are a whole load of EAS (Enterprise Acroynm Squatters) around who are getting to really important acronyms first and before anyone has come up with a sensible definition have used it for their own blatant marketing. I am referring of course to software vendors. Now I don’t blame them. They see a perfectly acceptable , beautiful acronym that no-one seems to be using and move their stuff in there.

I blame the analysts, They should be out there making sure the acronyms are very clearly being used and everyone understands them. But no. They spend time arguing amongst themselves about the exact definition and by the time the agree, the acronym is gone. So they have to come up with MCAs (more contrived acronyms) instead. PBS (Pattern Based Strategies) or ECA (Event Correlation Analysis): pulllleeeese!!!

Give me examples I can here you say. Well let’s start with BPM (Business Process Management). For a long time the IT department made it their home. CIOs each year have BPM as one of their top priorities, aided and abetted by workflow/automation vendors. Gartner and others are doing a reasonable job of moving these vendors next door to BPMS. But they are not going easily. They quite reasonably say – “But no one else was using it”, but it is confusing the hell out of clients / buyers out there.

Mark McGregor and I made an effort to help people understand that there is more to BPM than simply automation by writing a book Thinking of.. People Centric Process Management? Ask the Smart Questions. It has case studies of different aspects of BPM but is summed up by a lovely quote on the back “The only place you find automation before mapping is in the dictionary”.

Another area is Corporate Performance Management (CPM). Sounds great. Every business leader should have some of that. Sounds a lot more sexy than BPM which feels operational. Think Ferrari, not SUV. Pop around to CPM and you’ll find a different set of squatters. But these guys are lot bigger and more difficult to shift – SAP, IBM, Oracle. So why are they squatting? Surely they are legitimate tenants.

It is these big companies in their guise as BI (Business Intelligence) software vendors. The solutions they are offering are capturing, manipulating and reporting on business metrics. Slicing and dicing. Displaying as reports and scorecards. Great information, but not great insight.

So really these vendors are producing Corporate Performance Reporting (CPR). The CPR acronym is not really being used in the business space and I’ve checked with the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation guys and they are happy to co-habitate. But before they move we need to spell out why.

The M in CPM is Management. Exactly the same way the M in BPM is Management. You cannot have process diagrams (Visio, Powerpoint or some software product like ARIS or Metastorm), completely ungoverned with no version control and call it BPM. The same is true for CPM – (Management). Reports, so matter how pretty, without any way of understanding why a problem is happening and then a way of changing behaviour cannot be considered CPM – (Management). It needs a process context and some form of action management to make it CPM.

So what is the answer. Maybe time will fix it. The markets are aggregating.

The BPA (modelling tools) are being acquired by the BPMS (workflow automation) guys. Eventually the BIG players will snap up the BPMS players and if they get their act together from an integration (rather than just marketing perspective) they could have a very credible offering. Until then buyers should stay out of the neighbourhood when they see squatters.