Bruce Silver picked up on Keith Swenson's discussion about XPDL v BPEL, which I blogged about yesterday. As expected, Bruce added BPMN into the mix. And rightly so - having a portable modeling notation that describes how drawn processes should be drawn as well as run is an important way to go. BPMN helps business analysts communicate consistently, both with the business they are modeling and each other.
Now when we get to a stage of evolution where execution engines can consume these BPMN models, through XPDL or some other process language, customers will have reached a nirvana in software buying. At this point they can get commodity (cheap) BPM engines that they can plug and play, then rip and replace to their heart's desire. Microsoft is waiting in the wings for this already, though they are proving that they need a little help along the way (see their Business Process Alliance).
Fortunately, by the time complete BPM commoditization happens, some of the real talent in the BPM space will have moved on to even more pressing issues in the business, like gaining visibility across this new multitude of 'appliance' and SaaS process engines. Or providing federation and process enforcement across disparate process engines that make up an end-to-end process. Or providing some other smart system that can help businesses meet ever tougher objectives.
At this point, maybe we'll give business process back to the business, and terms like BPMN, XPDL and BPEL will just be the underpinnings of stuff real business leaders, users and analysts can understand and use to get their jobs done - better, faster, easier. Oh, and all with minimal IT involvement.
By the way, its worth checking out Bruce's post, since he has proven himself to be an expert in the BPMN realm in the past. His discussion is based around the state of play today with BPMN, and makes enjoyable reading.