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Is mobile the next big thing for BPM?

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As this article, written by a mobile CEO, attests in the title, One You Go Mobile With BPM You'll Wonder How You Ever Managed Without It.  So is mobile the next big thing for BPM?

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  • I interviewed a lot of people in the industry, especially vendors about Mobile BPM over a year ago now (www.theopriestley.com) and they all have different opinions.

    With the advent of the iPad and other touchscreen devices however I see the mobile platform taking off finally. Before there just wasn't the technology readily available, now there is. But the BPM world will continue to sit on it's laurels because it means taking chances and investing in something that's not incremental or just another version number on the OEM box....

    Mobility will allow a new paradigm in communication of process information and workflow. Just look at the Chocolate Factor example below.



  • There are 3 trends driving the way that technology is being delivered for and to business users that is shaping our new world; cloud, social, mobile.

    Each is important and is interdependent. They are having a profound effect on IT vendors and IT departments. Some (if not all) BPM vendors are behind the curve on one of all of these 3 trends.

    I have explored each in more detail in my blog. "Its the pefect storm; Cloud, Social, Mobile. Choppy water ahead"


    Happily, Nimbus is ahead of the game and we are seeing the benefits in each area. But that does not mean that every client is ready to exploit these trends. It is best summed up by the statement:

    "The future is here - it is just unevenly distributed"

  • At the risk of someone saying "Not CPW again", here is a GREAT example of using mobile phones in BPM. This time using the camera to take a photo of a QR Code to direct end user to relevant information.

    Simple, elegant, easy, effective. Isn't that what BPM is all about?


  • It seems to be a heavily covered subejct as everyone is responding with posts ... ;-)

    Most customers can't be bothered with the Social-Mobile-Cloud right now.

    Truly, if we want to put process management into the hands of the business user it will require a change in how processes are created and governed. In current orthodox command-control BPM mindset, mobile BPM is a waste of time and resources. But an EMPOWERED approach combined with the capability of Mobile might bring a rush of change. It won't be the what we understand as BPM right now.

    My own coverage of the subject:

  • The answer is yes, but not in the way of most "next big things". Most of the time, the next big thing is a product feature that some vendors get sooner than others and can tout as a major selling point.

    I believe that, for BPM, the technological break-through in mobile wasn't with the BPMS, but with the advent of tablets. Tablets can access web sites, so they can work with most work-list systems. No differentiation there. But the key is that it allows the kind of employees that don't sit in front of computers all day to be able to access the benefits of BPM.

    We've seen this with ActiveVOS being in clothing retail setting. Store personnel can walk around the store holding an iPad and using it during or after an interaction with a customer. That is possible with a tablet, but wouldn't have been with a cell phone or a laptop. I've also started to see doctors using tablets, and I can easily see how they could benefit from BPM for some of their tasks.

  • Have to agree with Max, going mobile with the current dominating understanding of BPM would be a waste of bandwith based on "because we can".

    I think within a social processing context, mobile may already be here but not named as such. The obvious sign might be the advent of telco business models that honour the usage of mobile processing, but the way things are, the telco industry seems to be entirely focussed on creating cloud space.

    Btw, a lot of the literature seems to use 'mobile' as another word for 'offsite' - don't think this really fits the bill, or are we back to that old homeoffice chestnut?

  • Mobile is important, since the many of the participants in processes are no longer tied to a desk. They are on the road, or working from home, or working from Starbucks after leaving the office, or walking around the production floor. Facilitating these people to get involved in the process and make decisions in 'real time' is where mobile really counts.

    Then there are QR Codes. Great, so an iPhone can scan one and send you straight to a URL and you see a mobile friendly web page. I'm doing some short projects with a lot of small businesses to do just this. This is not BPM... But the same concept barcode scanning concept can be extended to physical business processes such as manufacturing.

    We are currently running processes where fabrication workers don't just scan the barcode on the lump of shaped steel to find out what it is, they do it to indicate they are starting to perform a particular activity or to send the completed item onto the next stage in the manufacturing process. The barcodes in combination with mobile devices help people participate in computer-driven business processes, without the need to ever touch a PC. That is a big thing and you need a combination of technologies to make it work.

    Mobile is another piece of technology that can help businesses processes work better. Like any technology, it either helps the process, or it is just there because somebody fell for the salesman's smile.

  • Most businesses I encounter are still in the very early stages of BPM; trying to define their critical processes, searching for useful tools and getting the leadership team on board. Bottom line, we have a long way to go with the fundamentals. However, the business environment is changing at a rapid pace. We are a significantly more mobile workforce, with virtual teams working together globally to solve critical business problems that support innovation and growth. Due to the proliferation of mobile devices, expectations on associate availability and response times are almost immediate and 24/7. As a result, mobile devices are a key component of any BPM strategy. Every business should be considering and implementing mobile functionality in their BPM ecosystems. So is it the next big thing in BPM? I don't know, but it is certainly a critical component.

  • Tom,
    "As a result, mobile devices are a key component of any BPM strategy." May I disagree? They may become a key component for executing/working in processes ... but of process management?

    The tablet/smartphone or any other mobile device may ensure that you can stay connected to your tasks and processes but technical feasibility is one thing, the ability to manage geographically distributed processes may still run counter to most process managers mindsets and abilities.

  • No.

    When I think of the next big thing in BPM, I think of something that will cause an avalanche of new customers starting to use BPM - customers that couldn't (or wouldn't)use BPM before. I don't see how mobility fits the bill since I have never heard of (or seen) a company not using BPM because of its lack of mobile support. So for me mobility is a great feature, and will eventually be part of every BPMS - but it isn't the next big thing in BPM.
    I'll bet nobody can guess what I do think is the next big thing in BPM :)

    Jacob Ukelson - CTO ActionBase

  • user-pic

    A Huge Yes! Not because Mobile suddenly enables BPM in a big way but enables huge gains in productivity and leaning many business processes, especially enabling constantly mobile work forces to accomplish much, much more and saving oodles of money for the company in the process. For example, a sales person with a tablet in front of the customer accessing a backend order management and fulfillment system can check on inventory and place an order right there instead of writing them on paper and saying I will get back to you or calling someone back at the home office. A field service technician will use the tablet to pick up where his next call is, check whether he has the inventory of spares he needs, map his route, get there, do the repairs and close the ticket all in one swoop. No need to keep calling some dumb IVR system that many of them do currently.

    This is the currently mobile workforce. I see app clients on tablets enabling the current office bound workforce to be mobile and work from anywhere accessing backend systems through a secure VPN or other connection that the company has set up and do things whereever they are.

    This is not talk about doctors and nurses wandering about with a tablet system that has the medical record apps from which they can place orders for additional tests, Rx orders, specialist referrals, etc all while looking at the patient and doing these quickly.

    The productivity gains and the natural User interface that a large form factor tablet provides is a much superior interface than a smartphone redesigning a number of processes to flow smoother, in a leaner way, cutting costs. The BPM will fit in naturally in the redesign and redelpoyment of processes!

  • I believe that the author has a solution that is seeing a problem to solve! I remember that Lotus once had a product a couple of decades ago about which Lotus was very excited. Their PR people adeptly color and texture to their campaign attempting to appeal to as many people and market sectors as possible in order to ramp up as many sales funnels as possible.
    When I read the very brief article the two things that grabbed me was the authors focus on low level matters and there was a complete absence of opportunities related to the strategic intent of the enterprise.
    Sorry Mr Chasey, it back to the drawing board.
    I will be interested in additional posts to this topic as I am starting next Monday a consulting engagement which has mobile technology at its center.

  • In a nutshell, some business have users that want to review/approve requests while on-the-go. Enabling mobile-based, one-touch interactions makes life much easier for them. That is why we just added one-click functionality on mobile devices.

  • Quick thought: Integration of mobile devices is a key requirement for all processes with a direct connection to the customer (payment, banking etc.), but not for internal processes or their management

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