Will ACM eclipse BPM?

  • January 10, 2012
  • Scott

Peter Schooff once again asks the provocative question: “Will case management eclipse BPM in importance this year?”

The answers were pretty interesting.  I guess I should first own up to my own:

Short answer : no.

More thoughtful answer : When people have trouble listing which products are ACM, and which are BPM, and which are both, the “ACM” tag has some work to do to eclipse BPM. Even as it grows, it is perceived as part of BPM, not separate.

Of course, BPM took a decade or more to come into its own. I don’t think it comes undone overnight.

Perhaps some take this as tongue-in-cheek, but I’m serious.  The market perceives ACM as a part of BPM.  So do I.  Even as case management gains traction in some sectors, the customers are reaching out to BPM vendors to solve those problems.  Because case management is a good fit for BPM as well.

Keith Swenson posits that BPM is just “tactical” and ACM is “strategic” – in the long run BPM will automate all of the routine processes and ACM will increase in importance as work inevitably shifts there.

First, I don’t see anything inevitable about it.  Second, my response to this argument: “There will always be new, evolving processes (even “routine” processes). Enhanced productivity just means that less valuable routine processes can also be addressed (lower I to get the lower R).”  But of course the other part of the argument is that word-choice is so important.  The word routine might merely imply “repeatable”.  But the word choice implies other judgments as well:  routine sounds less valuable, less interesting, less problematic, less valuable.  In fact it is none of those.  These routine processes are what allow large companies to function at scale.  The really large scale routine processes aren’t even handled by BPM, they’re handled by specialized software for those functions, because they are so valuable.  

So don’t let the use of the adjective “routine” fool you.  The routine processes are typically where the money is.

Christopher Taylor sums it up well at the bottom of the thread: “I predict that it [ACM] is like the lone rider out in front in the Tour de France… it causes the peloton to speed up and take the breakaway back into the pack.”

Still, good perspectives to think through on this thread, from all corners.

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