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Computer Economics is out the week of April 5 with trend-confirming research on information technology jobs. The report shows a big time-series-based IT department swing away from application programmers/systems analysts to business-intelligence (BI)/business analysts. I guess I can throw away my 40-year-old programmer's diamond/rectangle template. This report is additional back-up for the research that says business process management is the next killer app in enterprise software, the new ERP from my perspective. (Or for customer-relationship/supply-chain management or whatever buzzword you use for integrated enterprise application suite.)

The research is based only on 2007-2009 data collection but my guess is that the decrease in programmers/systems analysts has been ongoing for many years. IT shops depend on companies such as SAP and Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) - and to a lesser extent, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) - for that level of computer science in packaged form. They no longer have to or want to develop it themselves. And IT shops depend on IBM, HP (NYSE:HPQ), and so forth when they prefer to get the functionality outsourced or custom written. Conveniently all of these enterprise-software market players, except HP, are well positioned to take advantage of the BPM explosion.

That is why most of the free-standing BPM software providers such as Lombardi and Savvion have been gobbled up, by IBM and Progress (NASDAQ:PRGS) respectively. And Pegaystems (NASDAQ:PEGA), although still independent, appears to be reverting to its customer relationship management niche, with its proposed acquisition of Chordiant (CHRD).

With a stretch, the Computer Economics also points to the next next big thing as well. Because the research counted BI experts, there may be indication that the merger of BPM and BI is underway. This is a capability that Dan Vesset at IDC and I (beginning when I was at IDC) began calling intelligent process automation in 2004. The idea, as with the movement from app development to BPM, is to get the human out of the process flow. With BPM, fewer tasks; with BPM integrated with BI, fewer mistakes before executing those tasks.

Disclosure: No financial position in companies mentioned.

Source: Enterprise Software Companies Well-Positioned to Take Advantage of BPM Explosion