Onyx buys its way into BPM

Onyx today announced the purchase of a process management software vendor and its plans to integrate the technology into its CRM system.

Onyx Software Corp. today announced it has acquired the technology of business process management (BPM) developer

Visuale Inc.

Onyx, Bellevue, Wash., will purchase the Los Gatos, Calif., company's technology for $4 million, in a combination of cash and Onyx stock.

"When we introduced Onyx CRM 5.0 last month, we said CRM has to shift from the passive approach of data in a database to an environment where it's easier and more cost effective to mange a set of business processes," said Ben Kiker, Onyx chief marketing officer. "The next wave comes from combining BPM and CRM; we're going to do it."

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Sheryl Kingstone, CRM project manager with Boston-based Yankee Group, likes the Onyx move and is an advocate for BPM.

"[CRM implementations] didn't really necessarily follow a productive workflow," Kingstone said. "The step that companies are taking to beef this up is very indicative of where CRM needs to go and where customers are in fixing their CRM applications."

Kiker said Onyx intends to incorporate the BPM technology into Onyx CRM by the end of the year.

Gartner Inc. has predicted the BPM market will see double-digit growth through 2007, and Kiker said that Onyx intends to capitalize on the demand. He added that roughly half of Onyx's customer base is coping with increased government regulation, particularly the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which is driving BPM.

"The technology we've acquired is well suited for building workflows that solve those compliance issues," Kiker said.

For example, an integrated BPM and CRM solution could streamline the process of applying for home equity credit from a bank. The bank would need to take a customer's application, route it through the underwriting process for credit worthiness, perhaps order an appraisal report for the property and insure it complies with federal money laundering regulations. Finally, the account has to be established in back-end financial systems, Kiker said.

Onyx is also bringing eight employees from Visuale to its Bellevue headquarters to help integrate the products. Visuale technology is architected on Microsoft's .NET platform and supports Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle databases, making it compatible with Onyx, Kiker said.

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