Social's Impact on BPM?

Scott Francis
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This question comes up periodically – how will social tech impact BPM?  Recently Clay Richardson has addressed the issue in a podcast
We’ve been talking about this combination of social and BPM over the last two and a half or three years. I can’t say it’s the key to success. But it’s a very effective tool for bringing more voices into the conversation when it comes to transforming business processes. That’s ultimately one of the goals of BPM: its transformation. We see customers that have been effective at bringing social in and combining it with BPM. They’re actually able to get more input from the front-line workers, and they’re also able to take that input and drive change so that it’s adopted by the people that are actually running the processes. So it is a very effective tool, out of the different tools that are in BPM professionals’ toolkit.
Peter Schooff wisely kicked this over to the ebizQ forum for feedback from other BPM experts.  In particular, Theo Priestley wants to tear down the silos and walls:
 I think Social is the catalyst to make this happen, not the overriding factor or driving force. But yes, it’s absolutely a good thing, we need to tear down the Berlin Walls of BPM that we’ve been erecting in the name of governance and start realising that process means all the people, not just for the reserves of the CxO and middle management. Things like Centres of Excellence, Process Ownership, they only serve to create further silos in the organisation whilst pretending to remove others.
My response:  To Theo’s point – I don’t think about it as much as COEs – as “access to experts” – much the way I use Twitter and blogging. I can reach out to the foremost experts in BPM on a daily basis the same way I would reach out to people I know in the company I work for. I can even reach out to experts I don’t know yet by posting publicly with the right tags. Social is going to increase our access to expertise. That will definitely impact business processes and business performance. Two interesting things I’ve noticed:
  1. There are more experts than people thought. As demonstrated by public discourse. For some people this is coming as a shock – they’re not unique in their expertise.  A bit like discovering that while you’re the best tennis player in your home state or country, there are really good players elsewhere that are just as good.  So, the experts may be disconcerted but they should embrace this new reality and their fellow experts out there.
  2. Expertise is even more valuable in a world where it is more easily accessed by others.
What do I mean by “more valuable”? Whether or not that person accrues economic benefits to themselves, they’ll definitely create more value for the system as a whole and for other people in particular. Typically, such value creation is also accompanied by additional economic benefits but not always. Expertise locked away in a safe has no value.  Expertise shared widely or widely accessible has a lot of value and creates a lot of opportunities to monetize that value.  Not to mention, it also increases the odds of improving upon the core expertise asset.

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