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Would BPM Agility Have Helped a Company Like Blockbuster Avoid Bankruptcy?

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An issue Doug Mow raises in his blog, Blockbuster failure - Was it Lack of BPM agility? do you think BPM agility would have helped a company like Blockbuster avoid bankruptcy. If so, how?

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  • Would BPM have saved Toyota's woes too ? Amounts to the same question. And the answer is no to both.

    You can innovate all you want but if you don't understand your market then you're doomed, no amount of BPM will save you.

    Blockbuster wanted to push forth with VoD but there was no global infrastructure in place and little market demand for it at the time. It's taken 10 years since that bold statement to get to where we are now and even then there is no clearly established market player. Like the Titanic it's evident that the Board failed to react and the ship too big to steer to avoid the impending financial impact.

    Produce a mountain of BI if you like, if the people at the top aren't going to act on it then ....

  • No. Blockbuster's problems are marketing problems. The Netflix vision was to deliver content to your TV over the internet. They used DVD's by mail as a path to get there. Blockbuster never thought beyond 'brick & mortar'.

  • It has nothing to do with BPM...BPM cannot save companies that have a bad business plan, all BPM can ever do is improve the way plans are implemented and a company runs internally...

    Blockbuster was always going to struggle once Sky offered sky box office. In addition, it doesnt help when DVDs can be purchased at such low prices on the same day Blockbuster is able to release them to the public for rental. I know so many people who simply purchase DVDs instead of renting, and so many (like myself) who on a whim decide to "rent" a film, but now do this via Sky Boxoffice...

  • Bad business plan. Bad business plan.

    Harsh criticism for a company that built to a significant size. But I do agree that they seemed unable to change to address the disrupting effect of the internet. In a (albeit long) word : disintermediation.

    Music CDs sales, print newspapers, physical software distribution have all been transformed eliminating the middlemen, as I discussed in this eWeek article http://bit.ly/bX9PYb

  • No. Blockbuster and Netflix is the classic "disruptive change". Blockbuster already had a huge investment in the storefront business, and all the people who worked there had an understanding of how it worked. They indeed set up a mail-order business -- which is actually impressive that they accomplished this much change. But the nature of disruptive change is that it always in a direction that the entrenched leaders find to be less efficient. It is extremely hard to get an organization to make such a change, and this difficulty has nothing to do with the IT system. It has everything to do with changing the culture of the organization. Agile BPM might help, but it would not by itself get the organization to change.

  • BPM as a technology: no way.
    BPM as a methodology: maybe
    BPM as thought process like Lean: ???

    Rental stores are wasteful, so why keep them around for so long? BPM software often promotes this - eeking out more efficiency from a bad process. Think "process intelligence".

    If you constantly look at your business processes, identifying and eliminating waste, and look for better ways to get a better result, you don't stay tied to a failing business model. You change - fast.

    Could Lean or some similar thought process have saved Blockbuster? I'd give odds better than 2:1, if it was ingrained in the business early enough to spot that the current approach needed, and could be changed.

  • Oh yes, fire the CEO and strategy advisors. Put BPM there instead. BPM can do strategy, BPM can operationalize the plan, it can make your teams smarter business people. And yes, it will also make coffee for you... you can fire your personal assistants too!

    :) :) :)

  • Blockbuster succeeded initially because it understood its market and its customers. Somewhere along the way, the company lost touch with both. Would the company still be viable had they chosen a customer focused approach to BPM? I think so.

    Jeff Bezos said it very well. "Obsess about your customers!"

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