BPM, SOA falling to the LCD (a case for lowercase)

I work in an industry segment where our software revolves around not one, but two, TLA’s (Three-Letter Acronyms). They are BPM (Business Process Management) and SOA (Service Oriented Architecture). The headline writers in the trade press love them, the names sometimes just function as “Brad and Angelina” due in the celebrity magazines. If there is room in the cosmic plan for Brad and Angelina to stay together, why not BPM and SOA?

Some titles of articles (which, again, just substitute your favorite Hollywood couple in): “BPM and SOA need each other”; “BPM and SOA: Better Together”; “Why BPM Screws Up SOA”; “An Opposing View: BPM and SOA Just Don’t Mix”; “The ‘Battle’ Between SOA and BPM and Why Companies Fear Web 2.0.”

Fortunately, we can sell to customers that are happy with BPM or SOA and don’t worry about the LCD.

For the LCD simply means the lowest common denominator, which, in the network world, is email. Or LCD can stand for the lower-case descriptor. After all, it used to be that companies worked very hard to promote their big capitals (Eye. Be. Em.) Nowadays you want to words that groove with the language. If you’re part of the language, more people feel comfortable with them and can feel empowered using them. You can email, you can google, you can blog; as I noted a couple of years ago, blog hits the linguistic trifecta (blog, blogger, blogging). I also heard a talk by Scott Heiferman, the founder of Meetup, where he coyly referred to the larger revolution of “meetup with a lower-case ‘m’.”

Ok: this is all pop-linguistics that I filed under WordPlay, and I tend to skip the exhaustive research and have a little fun. But I do have a point here.

This interests me as I’ve started a side project of promoting PONAR (the Protocol for Online Abuse Reporting) as a business-process, web-services-oriented way of reporting online abuse. I’m noticing some pockets of resistance so far, it seems, because BPM/SOA may not be natural concepts to most Internet users. It’s also the case that the whole world has email clients, but there is no generic service tracking client. People have to log in to different websites with different passwords to file and track and query service requests.

Maybe there’ll never be a lower-case term for using BPM/SOA software. Maybe file and track and query are sufficient. Reporting covers all three activities. But that doesn’t make you a reporter.

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