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BPM in the Cloud(s)

Michael Dortch

Open Connect: Replacing Gut Instinct with Real-Life Data for Better BPM

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Unfortunately, he can't be The Most Interesting Man in the World; that position's taken. But I recently had an intellectually bracing lunch meeting and conversation with the person I believe to be The Most Interesting Man in the BPM Software Industry.

His name's Edward M. L. Peters, and his company's Open Connect. And if you don't know them both, you really should.

Ed Peters the person is co-author of "The Paid-for Option: Using Process Intelligence to Close the Health-Care Knowledge Gap." The book argues that the United States could pay for health care for everyone and eliminate the national deficit by doing nothing more than squeezing five to 10 percent more efficiency out of a system that currently tolerates waste, fraud and inefficiency levels as high as 40 to 60 percent. And how best to achieve this higher efficiency? Through the application of "innovation, technology and evidence-based management," according to the online synopsis of the book.

Ed takes a similar approach to BPM via Open Connect and its flagship offering, Comprehend. The solution uses a network of passive, non-intrusive "collectors" to capture keystrokes, mouse clicks, interactive voice response (IVR) interactions and other "feeds and files" generated by the actions workers in a company take every day. Comprehend then uses what Open Connect calls an "analytics cluster" to translate these actions into events and activities that provide more user-centric views of who's doing what. A "process intelligence cluster" then combines information from analytics clusters, batch and log files and relevant external events to create accurate, comprehensive maps of the workflows and processes that are actually running the business.

With this information, decision makers can see and understand how workers are really spending their time, what customers actually go through to complete a transaction or interaction, and which processes are working and which are not. Ed tells me that going through this process has frequently unearthed processes and actions that business decision makers initially swore were not taking place at their organizations, or process inefficiencies about which those decision makers knew little or nothing.

If "knowledge is power," this kind of knowledge can be incredibly powerful to anyone trying to improve business processes and agility, customer retention and satisfaction, worker productivity and/or resolution of first calls to help or support desks. And everyone reading this should be doing or trying to do at least one of these things.

Open Connect calls the Comprehend architecture "silo-free" because it is designed to go beyond the silos of traditional business intelligence (BI), business activity monitoring (BAM) and BPM solutions. Comprehend is designed from the bottom up to provide comprehensive views of the processes that are the neural networks and life blood of every business, views based on a kind of "CSI" ("corporate scene investigation") of that business.

No, Comprehend is not, strictly speaking, "BPM in the cloud(s)." However, it can capture, discover and report on actions, events and processes that span premise-based and cloud-based resources. And Open Connect offers a packaged solution called discoverNow that combines hardware, software and services to pilot-test Comprehend in a live environment using real-life data. Within two to four weeks, discoverNow will discover and analyze incumbent processes and business value associated with them, and provide the foundation for a full deployment of Comprehend.

As the IDC case study as the Open Connect Web site says, Comprehend is valuable not only for process improvement but for continuing process auditing. And Open Connect offers extensive professional services and support, including a range of tools for integration of legacy IT resources including mainframes. The company says that its legacy modernization services deliver near-immediate ROI and payback within a year. I'm tempted to believe them, but your mileage, of course, may vary.

Effective BPM must embrace all critical business and technological resources, actions and activities, and must provide a clear, comprehensive and accurate picture of current processes to enable improvement and optimization. Too often, business decision makers do things "the way(s) they've always been done," based on little more than inertia and the "gut instincts" of one or more key people. Frankly, that scenario just ain't good enough, especially as Web- and cloud-based competition and interaction with customers, partners and prospects make agility, responsiveness and efficiency increasingly business-critical.

To succeed, business decision makers need the best available information about current processes to make the best possible decisions about what to change and how to change it. Open Connect's Comprehend may not be for every business, but it is worth a close look by anyone seeking to move BPM to the next level at their organization. Even if you decide Comprehend is not a fit for your business, the premises and arguments underlying the solution can add value and insight to your arguments for better BPM.

At the very least, I'm sure you'll find much of the content and thought behind Open Connect...interesting. Do please let me know...

(By the way, I'm thrilled to be "back in the saddle" as an ebizQ blogger, and am passionately interested in hearing from you about anything related to BPM in and around the cloud(s). You can reach me directly at medortch@dortchonit.com, and I promise to reply personally to your e-mails about anything I write. Maybe not immediately, but I will reply. Thanks!)

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Michael Dortch blogs about the rapidly evolving synergies (and possible challenges) linking BPM and cloud computing business strategies at all types of businesses -- including yours!

Michael Dortch

Michael Dortch is a veteran information entrepreneur and information technology (IT) industry analyst, consultant, speaker, writer, evangelist and provocateur. He has been striving to empower buyers, sellers and users of IT solutions since 1979. Seriously! ;-)

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