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What's The Next Big Thing for BPM?

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Having spent last week at Gartner's BPM Summit in Orlando, I thought that the consensus on the next big thing for BPM was there was no consensus.  Now, I'm typically in meetings all day long, so I don't make it to the keynotes.  But in my meetings, I heard many different directions, from integrating BI to improved usability to, as James Taylor reports, business rules and decisioning.  So what do you think is the next big thing for BPM and why?

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  • Agreed, since BPM will likely encompass the entire business there is probably not one specific thing to hang your hat on. So I'll target one aspect that must improve radically to make BPM successful, and that is tighter validation of business processes as they are executed in software environments. Too often we have a process model on one side, and a lot of infrastructure it is supposed to be leveraging, but it doesn't work out that way in practice.

    For some reason, we see proper validation and controls being considered an underlying requirement in European firms, while here in North America, BPM and process validation have been two different disciplines, so I expect that will change and be a Big Thing within the next two years.

  • I think it has to be the management of unstructured, ad-hoc human processes (aka knowledge worker processes)in the enterprise. Doing this right will require tools that span the divide between process tools and collaboration tools.

    I think Google Wave (enabled for the enterprise) could be a step in that direction.

  • I'll take all of the above, please. I'll have James T's decisioning as a service. John M's validation makes a lot of sense in tight, zero-error processes. Jacob U has it with the requirement for unstructured, collaborative, knowledge worker supporting 'case management'. Nice thoughts in every way.

    The more I work with it though, it is the refinement that SaaS provides that will really be the make or break for BPM. When we can make it easy enough for people to analyze, design, deploy, run and refine processes in a remote service that we have no real control over, BPM has reached maturity. The architecture of SaaS forces us to take business processes back to the business, away from software developers.

    The success of SaaS dictates openess and easy access to configure a service's data, its functions, its UIs,... but not yet its processes. This is what I believe is the next big thing. This is what makes BPM available to every department of every enterprise at every level, including the small and medium sized businesses who can not yet justify the need for a bunch of Java or .NET developers to implement a business process that is unique to them.

  • BPMN 2.0. This upcoming standard (in beta as of August) is a big deal and hasn't gotten the attention that I think it deserves. It is only through well-crafted standards that proficiency in business process modeling will be accepted as a required skill for any business analyst or a business application developer. BPMN 2.0 is a standard that will someday be taught in business schools as well as engineering schools, and the dream of a tight collaboration between business and IT can really be fulfilled.

    It is the next big thing because it isn't done yet. The standard is only in beta form and implementations that follow the beta spec are just starting to come out (such as the one in ActiveVOS).

  • As a delivery vehicle, a BPM SaaS offering provides a solution to a certain set of problems and issues. Like all technology platforms before it, the SaaS platform will be appropriate for some situations and not for others.

    There is a point, however, when the SaaS alternative has the potential to offer far more than licensing or installation options. When SaaS offerings leverage a greater array of services and functions it will provide a platform for functionality that few organizations will build for themselves.

    For example, when a SaaS platform can offer automated messaging and commuications it can facilitate supply chain messaging on a mass, interconnected scale. At that point, the business value of SaaS exceeds other installation options and provides significant alternatives to traditional deployment.

    That's big but it's probably not next and won't be a reality for a while.

  • A fundamental advancement in our understanding of BPM is changing the BPM value proposition. This change comes from a growing awareness how processes really work. The awareness and recognition that the real meat of process occurs once the IT part is done and the process deployed is opening a wealth of new opportunity in BPM. This awareness is moving us to address the key limiting factors stopping BPM software from making the impact it can, and in reaching the audience it should. Addressing the reality of those doing the work in process, a challenge that demands for us to understand the reality of people working in process and then figure out how to embed that knowledge in software, will fundamentally change the game. Oh – and part of that is what is driving the interest in unstructured, ad hoc, case and variable processes. These words describe what really happens in many of the processes in our businesses.

    While this change is being driven by the use needs of the people doing the work in process (requiring us to ensure BPM software produces highly intuitive user experiences that are contextual relevant, flexible and collaborative) it is also driving new advances for process modeling. The “place? this can lead us to is a new class of BPM software that dramatically increases our ability to design the right process models with intuitive, relevant user experiences for the people actually doing the work. I see us moving to a new BPM value proposition that will result in dramatic business value far less dependent on a few process experts. If you want to put a name on this, Global 360 calls it “persona-based BPM.?

    But call it what you like, breaking past the tip of the iceberg requires us to meet the challenges of making BPM software reliably beneficial with far less subjectivity. Process will always benefit from knowledge, creativity and innovation. But a consistent result for everyone, backed by hard ROI that is validated, is the Big Thing that will drive us beyond the tip of the iceberg!

    Terry Schurter
    BPM Thought Leader
    Director Product Strategy Global 360
    Chairman, Board of Advisors, International Process and Performance Institute

  • Until recently BPM solutions where only feasible for the big(ger) companies, what we see are new and innovative solutions with a price model that is reachable also for mid size and smaller companies.

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