IBM to 'verticalize' management dashboards

Building off technology gained in its acquisition of Holosofx, IBM next year will begin customizing a set of management consoles that let users in vertical industries monitor business processes pertinent to them.

Such industry-specific dashboards represent the next iteration of an existing trend around creating pre-built integration processes for banking, insurance, healthcare, and other sectors. Out-of-the-box processes, for example, address a business event such as "settle claim," and are designed to reduce manual, connect-the-dots-like coding needed for a process to properly execute and pull data and logic from back-end systems.

With WebSphere Business Integration for Industries, IBM is among a raft of application integration players pursuing process automation aimed at vertical markets. The likes of SeeBeyond, Tibco, Vitria, Mercator, Microsoft, and webMethods each unveiled so-called "solutions" packages this year.

Taking things several steps further up the stack, IBM plans next year to extend custom-tailoring to the management end of process automation. Instead of offering generic dashboards to keep tabs on process performance, IBM will design consoles for the needs of vertical businesses, said Paraic Sweeney, vice president of marketing for IBM's WebSphere Business Integration products.

Sweeney provided the example of a user in the financial trading space who wants to manage the flow of a post-trade settlement. "They want to monitor particular accounts with whom they have SLAs [service-level agreements] and watch transactions over a certain value," Sweeney said. "These users want a dashboard constructed to deal with those things specifically."

Over the course of 2003, IBM plans to build on its Holosofx business process management technology to deliver dashboards that reflect varying vertical industry criteria and terminology, he said.

Process monitoring and management comprise the final two steps in the integration lifecycle, according to Sweeney. The initial step focuses on modeling business processes via graphical tools; next is the implementation of those models, during which data transformation and application integration take place; then comes the external connectivity to business partners and the supply chain. Those three phases are followed by monitoring and management, he said.

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