Neil Ward-Dutton’s Take: A Masterclass in Customer Centricity

Scott Francis
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At BPMCAMP this year we had the honor of Neil Ward-Dutton attending alongside our team and our customers.  We’ve been following Neil’s work and MWD’s research for years, and I think we both felt it was time for Neil to get a bit of a look behind the curtain at BP3.  It was our position that you can’t really understand the experience of working with BP3 unless you come down to BPMCAMP and meet our customers.

Neil’s blog post is now up, and I think captured the essence of the event perfectly (emphasis added):

“Just before I left for a family vacation in August, I spent a couple of days in Austin TX with BP3 at the company’s BPM CAMP event, and caught a masterclass in customer-centricity.”

This means a lot coming from Neil, who has seen a few customer-centric companies and events in his time.

“This is a company that understands that BPM itself is a set of business processes, deeply understands what its customers are trying to achieve, and is determined to develop its business in innovative ways to help its clients excel. Over the past couple of years in particular, it’s started to really get into the minds of its customers in order to build a portfolio of products and services that are all about enabling customers to win.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Our investments are about understanding our customers and making the investments that allow them to win.  The value to our customers, and to us, has been really rewarding. I’ve previously mentioned that it isn’t just writing software, it is also how we’re organized and go to market:

  • Developed BPM technology toolkits (Brazos UI, Brazos Portal) that clients can install on the IBM BPM platform – to significantly enhance the default user experiences provided by IBM BPM with cross-platform, responsive designs.
  • Developed a cloud-based analysis service (Neches Analysis) that inspects and quality-rates your IBM BPM application code to help you improve comprehensibility and maintainability.
  • Created a range of  support services (BP Labs) that can be used standalone, or with project services, to help you install and migrate IBM BPM platforms; support BP3’s toolkits; and support your applications (as developed by you or BP3).

As Neil points out in his blog, our expansion into Europe via acquisition and hiring, has really enhanced our footprint there, improved our 24×7 support operations, and deepened our ODM expertise – including an upcoming release of Neches Analysis for ODM!

Our partner enablement team has also done a great job of signing up partners in the last year – with over 20 partnership agreements around the world, including significant players on the global stage.

“For all its ambition, there are still things it needs to work on. For one thing: as a deep specialist, it would be easy for BP3 to find itself stuck as a small cog in the larger wheels of the global systems integrators that are often brought in to assist with large business transformations, playing supporting behind-the-scenes roles that are easily price-pressured. If it’s to push against this, BP3 needs to further develop how it markets and sells its capabilities, and to whom.”

Even this bit of advice is really great.  We completely agree that this is the risk for a company our size – especially if we were fielding all of our work by subcontracting to bigger firms.  But BP3 has been better than any company in our space at managing this risk.  An interesting question to ask services vendors in the BPM space is: “what percentage of your revenues derive from subcontracting to the software vendor or a systems integrator?” for many of these companies that answer would be north of 60% or even approaching 90-100%.

For BP3, as of 2010, that answer was six percent, and has stayed between zero and low single digits as we’ve grown 10-fold since then.  Part of not being a “cog” is having a direct line with the customer and fiduciary responsibility to the customer, rather than to a vendor. Perhaps a bit ironically, our independence has made us an even better partner to IBM and other software vendors than we would be if we were just subcontracting on their paper. We learned that lesson early and we’ve worked hard ever since to make sure that we are an independent and constructive voice.  But there is more work to do on this front, we’re not satisfied yet.

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