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Is Social BPM Really a Ground Breaking, New Phenomenon?

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Is Social BPM really a ground breaking, new phenomenon?

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  • According to the analysts, Social BPM is new. Certainly the terminology is new, but are the concepts behind it?

    In Gartner's recent BPM Hype Cycle, SocialBPM is near the bottom starting the climb to the Peak of Inflated Expectations.

    But I believe that "the future is already here - it is just unevenly distributed". By that I mean I can point at 100's of clients who are routinely engaging their end users to drive business process improvement. Are they using Twitter, LinkedIn or GoogleGroups. No - but they are using these style capabilities embedded within their BPM applications, optimised for driving sustainable, auditable change.

    That is why it is easy to get cynical about analysts getting all frothy and excited when a BPM vendor, possibly late to the party, launches their "BPM V6 with added SocialBPM zest" product. See my blog "Social BPM - new and improved" http://bit.ly/cJnwPt

    But does that mean companies like Nimbus, Business Genetics and others can sit on their laurels and say "We were doing this since R1.0"

    Clearly not. Embracing what is best from the current crop of Social Networking tools can make their products stronger at engaging end users. Because that is what is at the heart of Social BPM.

    An end to end process must accurately represent what end users do on the ground, and have the mechanisms to allow them to suggest changes which are rapidly incorporated. At the same time as tracking an auditable change cycle for compliance.

    Put mathematically : R = I x A x A > results = initiative x adoption (squared)
    This is taken from Common Approach, Uncommon Results book http://www.ideas-warehouse.com

    Without end user adoption, what is documented and what is actually done will rapidly diverge. And then, even if the processes are in the newest SocialBPM tool it is simply 'Lipstick on a pig".

    • user-pic

      Social BPM as a phenomenon may be new, but the concept has been around for long within organizations. However organizations are now taking a new holistic stand towards BPM, away from its past process-oriented focus, leading to an increase in the awareness and know how people develop, use and share while executing their processes. According to Garner Research 2006, knowledge is now being considered as an integral part of business processes within organizations. Thus introducing the concept of BPM as a Social medium since knowledge created from executing business processes is not only for individuals, but useful for other groups of people sharing and using the experience in a BPM community.
      Within an organization, the more people execute a routine business process, the more familiar it becomes to them, creating a tacit knowledge that could be shared across the organization, as a benefit. Human-centric processes are where BPM truly has the potential to become a social medium because of the nature of the way that humans work and interact with each other and other systems.

      Coincidentally, I am writing my MSc thesis on BPM, and it touches on Social BPM and discusses how BPM is seen and used within organizations.Your time and opinion will be much appreciated.

      Please copy and paste this link onto your web browser to complete the survey:



  • No, but the ability to enable/support more collaboration in designing, building and executing business processes continues to grow. Ad-hoc and dynamic routing have been around for years. But SaaS-based BPM is generally new and therefore made to be more open for design-time collaboration. The concept of Social BPM is a good one and will lead future application development.

  • Depends on what you mean by "Social BPM". If you means using social technologies to address process modeling - then it is new, but not ground breaking.

    If you mean extending process methodology and technology to manage social processes in general (or those pesky unstructured, ad-hoc, unpredictable, human processes) that we all do everday in email, documents and meetings - then yes it is new AND ground breaking. I an not sure a BPMS is the answer though.

    Current BPM suites just don't cut it when it comes to those types of processes - the basic metaphors just aren't appropriate. How many times did any of us (the people who read and respond to this forum) use a BPM Suite as part of their everday routine today? In the last week? It just wouldn't make sense, since we are all knowledge workers doing non-routine tasks and participating in social processes, and that is not what a BPM suite is about.
    Jacob Ukelson - CTO ActionBase

  • In as far as BPMS are calling people and computing processors on the same footing (to make them execute their respective pre-determined programs), there is no room left for any kind of specifically social interaction. Thus, 'Social BPMS' are just unthinkable.

    That, nevertheless, IT-vendors recently became excited by the unthinkable, that's in fact a remarkable new phenomenon, rather than just another hype: BPMS-vendors themselves are going to challenge the very ground of the BPM-paradigm.

    In fact, what else than a ground-breaking alternative to the BPM-paradigm could cope with the specifically social interaction, suddenly felt that important?

  • Social BPM isn't groundbreaking; in actuality, most of the new "social" types of enterprise solutions aren't novel in any way. What we're doing with social BPM is taking an internal business-driven process - kept within an "intranet" environment - and making it accessible to external parties. In other words, we're letting others in on what was originally deemed a "secret" of sorts, making an intranet into an extranet.

    Tom (www.perfectforms.com)

  • BPM itself can be considered as an amalgamated bunch of technologies like SOA, Content Management etc. With Social BPM, we are adding one more to the lot – collaborative network environment. To put it simple Social BPM is about doing BPM in a collaborative network environment and thus extending its reach. Nothing ground breaking can be seen here!

    A related term Process Populism is explained in my blog, ThinkBPM: http://thinkbpm.in/?p=160

  • “Social? technologies and techniques have been integral parts of BPM right from its inception conceptually, largely because one of the main objectives of BPM has been to help us work effectively and more efficiently. Since the beginning, BPM Suites have strived to support functionality that would be considered “social? - collaboration in performing tasks (steps in the business processes), groups of people defining business processes, and multiple stake holders analyzing business information to gain process intelligence.

    Recent advances in computing technologies such as real-time sharing of work sessions, easily supportable and reliable chats, powerful data aggregation and visualization, have enabled BPM Suites to provide increasingly better support for people to work together.

    There are a number of Web Based BPA tools that support Process Wikis, and we’re seeing even the end-users able to access and benefit from the dashboards resulting from mash-ups between process data and other business data.

    “Social? practices like the ability to collaborate in real time and exchange ideas across functions, organizational boundaries and even communities in extended enterprises (employees, customer and partners) are now common in most BPM solutions.

    Given that BPM Suites are designed to help people work more effectively and efficiently, we should expect that they will continue to enhance and expand their social computing functionality.

    Dr. Ketabchi
    Chief Strategist, Progress Software

  • Social BPM is not groundbreaking in and of itself. The applications that are built on the platform may be but the technology is not discontinuous.

    We've debated whether BPM is new and whether or not social media is new. The general consensus has been that neither are net new entrants into the fabric of technology. The velocity and ubiquity are new, but not the core principles and activities.

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