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What is the best way to use business data to drive BPM?

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ebizQ's editor Anne Stuart quoted in her blog, A few keynote highlights from the Gartner BPM Summit, that, "This is the age of the two B's: business process and business intelligence." So what is the best way to use business data and business intelligence to drive BPM?

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  • Surely its the other way round - business processes are to manipulate and provide data to the business?

    For example, a sales process: collect certain data about the customer, order, stock, etc and make decisions on delivery, invoicing, and so on. This is a process around the data, not the data supporting the process!

    More interesting, though, in Anne's blog were regarding "BPM and technology":
    --"... context-awareness-based."
    --"... pattern-seeking technology..."
    Interesting that these don't really map into a process flowchart (although they may be broad activities or tasks in a process). But then, of course, I view things from a more event-driven / CEP context...

  • Both business process and business intelligence need to have a solid data model definition in a business architecture. If they are not building on the same model, chaos will reign ...

    The biggest issue is the BI usually delivers old data that are supposed to drive current processes or support real-time decision-making. Designed processes do not work towards achieving goals but some designed flow, regardless of the outcome. The outcome is then measured in some statistical BI, when it should be verified right there in the process.

    But then most processes are today also not as they are needed now, but as they were needed some time back. So BPM and BI together help to hold up the illusion of being in control of the future by looking into the past.

    Now, is there something fishy going on in the state of Denmark?

  • The Gartner BPM conference had an unprecedented level of attendance, but also enthusiasm. With a growing backdrop of regulatory compliance in clients, BPM is becoming far more important and is now a Board level agenda item.

    A theme from the conference was the intersection of BPM & BI.

    Firstly BPM is giving a context for BI. Mapping of a business process will drive out the correct metrics to be collected, rather than those most easily collected. This was discussed in my article published by BP Trends called "Leading vs Lagging indicators". http://www.bptrends.com/publicationfiles/TWO%2003-09-ART-Leading%20vs%20Lagging-Gotts-final.doc.pdf

    Secondly, BPMS systems are providing a valuable data feed into BI systems as it is realtime data enabling for faster and more accurate decisions to be made.

    The challenge for organisations is to make the groups implementing BI and BPM talk to each other and recognise the value each can bring to the other.

    In terms of sequence; Is it BI or BPM first?

    We are seeing those organisations who have implemented BI having a better view of performance shortcomings, and using BPM to improve them. This often identifies a need to change the BI system to collect different metrics.

    Those that start with BPM can in parallel identify the business activities and the supporting metrics which are required from the BI system.

    So BPM and then BI is probably more cost effective, but in many clients BI is more established than BPM.

  • "Data is the new oil" I heard recently. In fact I have recently been suggesting to clients that they should be collecting all data they can think of even if they can't think of how they will use it. With the cost of storage at an all time low why not load up the petabytes?

    And without doubt the best way to collect data is as a byproduct of process execution. But we do need to make sure we not creating additional burden on the data provider. With context and date/time accuracy guaranteed, we can build enormous data-sets recording how our business is operating.

    A month, a year, even a decade from now someone is going to have an insight, a question, an hypothesis and mining that data for answers might give that business the competitive edge it needs.

    So, even if you are not driving any of your BPM efforts because of the data mining opportunities, don't hesitate to collect and store data for future digital exploration and exploitation.

  • The best way to use IT data for BPM is to actually use it. Most companies have a wealth of data they could use to enrich their decision making, but don't. Log data is a great example of this.

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