Day 2 kicked off with deeper BPM-specific content. Lance and I split up for most of the day, going to different sessions. But we both came back from sessions with good content. I attended the DoD session on Semantic data. Somehow I knew it would be beyond the beginner content of the day before, from the title: “Primitives Based Process Modeling in a Vocabulary Driven Enterprise Architecture (EA)”.
Vocabulary-Driven Enterprise Architecture
What Dennis Wisnosky really addressed was how standards like BPMN and URIs and other W3C standards were really allowing the DoD to deal with its vast troves of data (indexed and/or unstructured) and to get to a better leveraging of semantic data.
He started with a video, that to me was right out of the Lost TV series (think the videos with the Doctor introducing the purpose of each station – the audio slightly off). He then continued with a live presentation. The problem he was attempting to address with BPM-related technology, was one of stovepiping:
Redundancy of data and function and work
Data (where does it live, how do we find it, index it)
Infrastructure – cost is too high relative to industry norms
Showing that some of the BPM / Agile messages are getting through to big government, he said they break their 4-year (!) plan down to 90-day “pods”, with 14-30 day sprints within those pods. His goal was to get the team used to a different cadence and style of work – a cultural change, essentially.
There was a lot more depth about how they combined the use of various standards to pull the right data to work on given where they are in a process. It is a more technical view of BPM and BPMN than you normally see. But Wisnosky demonstrates that if your organization needs to “go there” on the technical front, it can. These aren’t toys, these are serious standards and technologies and his team has shown that with what they’ve built, and how they built it.
Adobe’s Moment of Truth
Adobe had a presentation, along with L’Oreal, on User Experience: “Adobe Systems: Experience Matters- shift your process focus to user moments of truth”… The Adobe rep, Rob Pinkerton, gave a good presentation, no complaints. Really focused on “Moments of Truth”… Which is a marketing-esque way of saying: user experience matters.
I happen to agree with the messaging. But The delivery missed a huge opportunity for Adobe. Stanley Zaykaner gave a very good presentation on behalf of L’Oreal and Adobe. However, the User experience was represented by a few screenshots, not a moving video or demonstration. And worse, those screenshots showed UI that would make green screens proud. Or Netscape circa 1995. Grey on Grey. With a little bit more grey. I have friends at Adobe who’ve been telling me about their great advantage in UI/UX and I was hoping to see evidence of it in this talk, but I just didn’t see it.
This was a really well-attended session, and they had a great opportunity to differentiate against all other BPM product suites on the market – but they didn’t. And the modeling didn’t look like BPMN at all – a point of negative differentiation for most BPM professionals. The other products will differentiate on transactions and integration to back-end systems… Adobe really needed to differentiate on these User Moments of Truth. Maybe next year.
There were a couple tidbits I took exception to – like the idea that no one in marketing was thinking about the Return Goods Authorization process, or the cost of returned goods with a liberal return policy. But I would disagree- people in marketing (and execs) are typically acutely aware of return policies at their stores and market them aggressively as a point of credibility and trust with their consumers. Good marketing groups use numbers and statistics to justify their actions.
Rob Pinkerton also talked about the idea that 60% of consumers provide post-purchase reviews or commentary online. This has to be good news for Bazaarvoice if true, but I’m not sure what the precise relationship to Adobe was (I might have missed the connection).
He had one little tidbit that will help everyone: GetHuman.com – the cheat sheet for how to get to a real human on lots of different businesses’ IVR systems…
The CME group had a presentation about their journey, beginning last June and now almost a year old. They have their first process in production and were offering advice to the rest of the audience, reflecting how they did their vendor selection and also how they tackled their projects. There are a few interesting notes: they said they brought 4 vendors in (at least) for a full-on bake-off. That’s an expensive way to pick vendors these days – and guarantees it will be hard to get maximum discounts from your vendors (from the vendor side, the “cost of sale” is quite high). Also, they went with a cloud solution which may be attractive to some and not to others. It made me wonder how they coped the one day a week ago when Amazon Web Services (AWS) were down, given that this isn’t a slow moving business, this is the CME Group we’re talking about. My other caution would be that they’re one process into this journey – the fun stuff is just beginning.
The Great Case Management debate was another session to discuss, but I’ll save that for a separate post.
I briefly attended a Microsoft Visio and Sharepoint session: Practical customer examples from Exxon and TECO Energy. I wanted to see the sharepoint version, but after watching someone draw proceses on Visio for 15 minutes I couldn’t take it anymore and left. This may sound rude, but drawing something in visio was pretty cutting edge in 1994. BPM tools have been providing better modeling tools for process for several years now. The big innovation displayed was a set of Visio “targets” that extended visio to make it easier to draw a process map, instead of a BPMN process. Of course, you could draw something in BlueworksLive faster, it’ll look better, collaborate with your team more easily, export to a PowerPoint presentation, and allow you to collect inputs, outputs, etc. as you gather them. Visio is a great product. But it is undercut in the BPM space by purpose-built technologies that are more efficient (and often less expensive) for the user. Watching the drawing in Visio was cumbersome. In BlueworksLive I would have simply typed the name of each process or activity and hit return or tab appropriately. 10 minutes tops, for what they were showing. And there are other good modeling tools out there like BizAgi and Signavio, etc. There are options.
At the end of the day I had a really good heart-to-heart conversation with a customer. We know quite a few people in common in the BPM space but met ourselves for the first time. They’re faced with a challenge that many big corporations are faced with – very expensive approved vendors, or offshore approved vendors. And there’s a significant gap in the middle – where real experts are available at a more affordable price. There are times when Vendor Management offices or purchasing offices actually cost companies money rather than saving them money – not to mention effectiveness.
Following that, I checked out the vendor hospitality suites, which staved off starvation, and then we headed to a nearby Italian restaurant for dinner. It was another long day, packed with moments to catch up with colleagues and see what other people are thinking in the BPM space.