Why IBM Chose Salient Process and SPARK

Why IBM Chose Salient Process and SPARK

Published By : bpmMasters June 18, 2016

Given the announcement by IBM on June 7th that SPARK will become the default UI Toolkit for IBM BPM, we wanted to share with you just how we arrived at this exciting moment, why we built SPARK, and particularly why IBM chose SPARK. IBM is now reselling Salient’s SPARK suite of Toolkits (see product announcement), and is collaborating with Salient Process to fully integrate the suite into future releases of IBM BPM.

When Eric Ducos, the primary creator of SPARK, first starting building this suite of Toolkits, his primary goal was to build something he would love using to help clients achieve our mission of enabling them for higher level thinking. He felt like if he enjoyed using it, then others would too. Of course, he had other guidelines and goals in mind as well. He wanted a solution which provided a consistent and easy to use configuration and low-code programming model. What he ended up coming with is if anyone became familiar with these four core patterns for SPARK – Configuring Controls, Referencing Other Controls, Attaching Logic to Events, and Using Formulas – they would be able to build their IBM BPM UI solutions at least three times faster than by using any other IBM BPM toolkit or out of the box solution. It is truly fabulous what Eric and the rest of the SPARK team have been able to accomplish with those four core patterns. As a BPM Director from a Fortune 500 company told us recently “We are a huge fan of the product and have used it on our last two projects with great success and have realized significant savings on our projects.”

As IBM was researching partner IBM BPM UI Toolkits and trying to determine which one fit their long-term plans best, they really started to realize the power of those four core SPARK patterns. It also helped greatly Eric had been collaborating with the IBM BPM engineering team for years. Eric had a philosophy of not hiding anything we were doing, and really trying to guide the IBM team in where he and Salient thought the IBM BPM product needed to go. So, IBM was very well aware of what SPARK had to offer before they started researching which UI Toolkit to integrate into the product. As IBM did its research, they really started to understand even more what Salient has been saying about SPARK all along. Part of the value proposition is SPARK provides the following:

  • Increases UI developer productivity by three to four times (see our Speed to Market guarantee)
    Provides a highly efficient and intuitive development experience with much lower technical skills necessary
    Provides over 100 responsive and configurable drag and drop UI controls
    Every control includes a simple and powerful event-based framework
    Optimizes UI performance by using controls which support lazy loading and server side pagination
    A guaranteed upgrade path (no more worrying about migrating from one version of IBM BPM to the next)

Interestingly enough, we have always said we don’t want to be in the business of building UI Toolkits. The only reason we ever pursued building a UI Toolkit was because we saw a gap in the out of the box IBM BPM UI functionality. While the core UI framework for IBM BPM is outstanding, the out of the box UI controls left some room for improvement. This was intentional by IBM. They expected their partners to build innovative solutions on top of the outstanding IBM BPM core UI framework. At first we researched other business partner’s UI Toolkits, however we just felt like they weren’t solving the core gaps in the IBM BPM UI functionality, or at least solving them in a way we felt was consistent and extendable. So we decided to look at building our own UI Toolkit. The result was the SPARK UI Toolkit (full disclosure – the foundation of SPARK was EmeriConViews, which we acquired and then extended greatly).

However, even with the success of SPARK with our consultants and clients, we never felt like SPARK defined us. We felt, and still feel, the most important thing about us is enabling our clients for success. We are not about a single product or solution. So, when IBM approached us about reselling and eventually owning the IP for SPARK, to us it was a “no-brainer.” The only reason we had ever built SPARK was to solve a gap in the product functionality. IBM offering to collaborate with us to integrate it into the product solves that gap, so we jumped at the opportunity. It was probably the easiest negotiation IBM has ever had, and definitely one of the easiest decisions our executive team has ever made. We were definitely a willing target.

At Salient, we talk a lot about enabling our clients for higher level thinking. We view our primary purpose at Salient as enablers of organizations to exercise higher-level and intelligent thinking so they can achieve what they mean to achieve and become what they mean to become. It profoundly effects the way we consider and approach problems. And ultimately, it transcends the idea of just engineering BPM and ODM solutions, or even just creating enterprise programs. It essentially turns what we do into a deliberate intelligence-enabling activity from beginning to end.

We believe IBM’s suite of Smarter Process products is a big part of enabling higher level thinking for our clients. SPARK is also a big part of this because it allows the people who build solutions using IBM BPM to focus on what is important: business value. SPARK is able to do this because it is simple, easy to use, and uses a consistent configuration and low-code programming model across all SPARK UI Controls. To elaborate, this means there is no need to learn a new technology, no need to master yet another complex JavaScript library, no need to delve into the internals of controls, create duplicate assets, create large amounts of glue constructs, and no need to part with well-understood and intuitive development approaches. All of this combines to enable our consultants and clients to focus on process rather than technology while creating their process solutions using IBM BPM.

All of this, and more, is why IBM chose SPARK as its default UI Toolkit. It really came down to us having a consistent vision with IBM on where the product should go, as well as our willingness to make this happen. We are very excited to see where SPARK can help IBM BPM solutions go in the future. We are hearing from more and more customers they see no compelling reason to consider any other UI Toolkit for IBM BPM. It is the only Toolkit that has all three of their core UI toolkit needs: easy configuration options when you want to build low-code BPM UI, a powerfully simple design for customization and cross-control interaction, and the only Toolkit that will be incorporated into the platform and supported by IBM going forward. For more information on IBM choosing SPARK, please see Chris Vavra’s (IBM BPM Product Manager) blog on Turbocharging your IBM BPM user experience.

If you would like to download SPARK, please register here.