Part of the monthly close in your organization is probably the creation of a "briefing book", or some other type of report package. Over the next couple of years, as the new concept of Business Application Monitoring (or "BAM") takes over, this could change dramatically.
BAM is another term "invented" by the Gartner Group (they also coined the term "ERP"). Gartner defines BAM as "providing real-time access to critical business performance indicators to improve the speed and effectiveness of business operations."
Remember that Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) is the concept of tying your systems more closely together (most likely in a real-time manner). BAM takes this the next level, by increasing the efficiency and integration of your corporate systems. In addition, while EAI helped "glue it together", BAM provides the means to get the promised usefulness out of EAI.
BAM promises to provide better reporting, and notification, of critical business events, much like the "management by exception" concepts that revolutionized businesses in the 1980s. Instead of printing reams of copies of the "monthly reporting package" for distribution to the board and management, BAM will deliver targeted "actionable" information: what is important, when it is important, and to whom it is important.
You are probably asking yourself, "Gee, this sounds pretty interesting, but how does it affect me now"? Well, you need to start thinking "in BAM concepts". By 2004, Gartner predicts that BAM will be one of the top 4 IT investments. So, you–as the savvy professional–need to get it on your radar screen.
Getting BAM into your systems will require overcoming the usual obstacles. Scalability will be important, as will the optimization of your application platforms to support the increased use of ad hoc queries. Data marts and pluggable frameworks will be critical to achieving success with BAM. The more standardized and better defined your data is, the easier it will be to integrate your existing systems with a BAM methodology. "Activity Modeling" consulting (just think of it like Business Process Analysis) will help determine what information is delivered, to whom, in what manner, and when.
How to get there? There will likely be the usual "build vs. buy" decisions to make, given the product offerings from the usual "top-dollar" application vendors, like Tibco, WebMethods, etc. In addition, OutlookSoft’s EAP product offering provides a lot of BAM-type functionality.
The "dark horse" is Microsoft, who will be rolling several of its "business intelligence" products and technologies into a framework (code-named "Jupiter") that will be available in phases during the next 18 months. See http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2002/Oct02/10-08JupiterPR.asp.
It will be interesting to see how BAM plays as part of an overall Lawson strategy. My bet is that this is where Lawson is headed with their own Smart Notification product (mixed probably with ProcessFlow), although I don’t believe that it’s a complete solution yet.