At the recent Professional Developers Conference (PDC) Microsoft announced a new workflow engine, Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF), that is integrated into Windows, Office, Outlook, Sharepoint etc. An interesting move. The workflow engine provides a process layer to Microsoft applications that has been lacking up until now. Developers will no longer need 3rd party workflow environments to create enterprise class business process applications.
This is an great move for HR technology! While the large ERP/HRMS products have workflow built in they are typically hard to use and expensive to implement. With Microsoft putting a workflow platform into Windows they are bringing workflow to the masses. This means that the average SME could now build workflows to help automate their administrative processes, and which function tends to have the most administration? HR. The platform will enable both in house and 2nd tier product developers to integrate enterprise class workflow into their products.
Time will tell how the tools are used by developers, I would expect that the first applications to use the WWF will not be advertised as workflow applications instead the technology will be used to solve some existing development problems. Overall I am excited by the options now available.