The emergence of BPM is driven by three major factors:
Since the introduction of desktop computing in the 1980's, we have seen companies continue to seek new ways to maximize the value that they provide to their organizations. Initially, the focus of desktop computing was solely on personal productivity through applications like word processing and spreadsheets. The next phase of computing introduced LANs and WANs, with e-mail and groupware (primarily focused on small teams) gaining prominence.
While this was occurring, traditional business applications began to move off of the mainframe to client/server environments, again to leverage the power and presentation of desktop computers. The focus of these business applications -- whether financial, manufacturing (like ERP), or sales and service oriented (CRM) -- was on improving the productivity of a particular functional area or department.
The Internet is driving the latest phase of evolution. With customers in more control, functional silos are no longer acceptable. The next phase of software needs to focus not on individuals or departments, but on tying them together in an organized fashion to drive organizational productivity improvements. These improvements will break down the walls between departments -- cutting cycle times, reducing costs, and improving service for internal and external customers.