bpmNEXT and the State of BPM

Scott Francis
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bpmNEXTI loved Neil Ward-Dutton’s piece on the changing face of BPM, which is also a nice plug for the bpmNEXT event we’re both attending this week.  The pundits who think BPM is dead weren’t at bpmNEXT last year or they would have seen otherwise – and I expect this year will be a similar victory lap for business process management technology vendors.

And as the BPMS box has started to crack open a bit, we’re also seeing other adjacent process-improvement-supporting technologies enter the mix: data management layers and composite application builders that make some technology platforms into more full-blown application development platforms; case management (CM) frameworks that enable more dynamic, expert-driven work scenarios to be supported with software; operational intelligence (OI) frameworks that enable end-to-end business process metrics to be monitored in real-time and performance (or problems) to be predicted in advance.

This is where some interesting innovation is happening – on top of the standards and integrating with standard interfaces and platforms.  Because of BPM’s role in the enterprise, it necessarily has to adapt as technology waves roll through: mobile, cloud, big data, collaboration, social media… and by and large, BPM as an industry has done just that.

At the same time, we’ve also seen the focus of application of BPM technologies start to shift – beyond primarily administrative processes, to cover more and more of the domain of customer interaction, as customer interactions have become more digital, software-driven and integrated.

The shift has been described this way by our CEO:  a shift from cost-savings only, to revenue enhancing, customer experience improvement, and new capabilities.  So, instead of BPM becoming ever more mired in the back office, it is more and more exposing opportunities to align back office functionality with the demands of the business, customers, and the market in general.

While for some, the goal for BPM was a unified model of all things in the business, for others the dream has always been to make an impact on the business model and the customer experience.  For those of us in the latter camp, it is the latter results that motivate BPM, and justify the means of getting there.  A unified model isn’t worth the paper (or bits) it is printed on if it doesn’t improve the bottom line, the top line, and customer experience.

Neil has an interesting tidbit here;

I’m hearing some vendors say they’re getting pushback from customers about BPM – with customers saying they’ve heard it all before and they don’t believe the hype. My answer is: if you’re getting pushback you need to do more to sell solutions to customers’ process-related problems, and try to avoid simplistically pushing the concept of “BPM as solution” to everyone, everywhere.

If you’re getting this pushback, it reflects on your ability to sell BPM, rather than on the market or the customers.  We’re not getting this pushback from our customers, because they’re seeing the value of their investment in BPM.    That doesn’t change the fact that we focus on the value of specific solutions, not just some theoretical value of the platform. Platform value is “potential value”, whereas solution value is more like “kinetic” energy in the sense that it is more palpable and real.

I’m as excited as Neil is about bpmNEXT tomorrow.  When you have sessions like this, who could think BPM is dead?

  • Use of Analytics/recommendations
  • Self-organizing work and ad hoc work
  • Mobile technology and its impact on business processes
  • Work management
  • Cloud-based workflow platforms
  • Synthetic APIs
  • New model notations
  • Event-driven work modelling
  • Process intelligence

See you there, or on Twitter, as we attend and cover the event.  We’re presenting at 4:30 PST on Tuesday, I believe!