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What are the biggest challenges facing social BPM?

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What are the biggest challenges facing social BPM right now?

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  • Social BPM. What's that?

    Is that what Karl Marx meant by process management?

  • I am not sure that any challenges facing BPM for social are much different from any challenges facing Social. You need to ;

    Decide what value you want from it (what are your competitors gaining/losing)?
    Decide if how to get that value (cost) justifies the return (ROI)
    Where is social going? The way of the fax? Email? Is it overload? Is there too much noise? Are people getting bored? Is it used for serious business use?

    So really, it's 101 business decision. Go with the Hype, lead, follow or ignore.

  • http://bpmredux.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/why-social-bpm-will-sink-as-the-social-enterprise-fire-rises/

    The Social BPM ‘phenomenon’ was ill conceived and little more than social tools tagged onto BPMS. The promise of more connected and socialised business change didn’t really take off and I blame BPM itself because it didn’t know what to really do with it for one, and the fact that change must involve people in the first place means it’s already a social event. Lipstick on a pig, as Ian Gotts once wrote.

    Where social BPM should have lead was in evolving the way business structures are perceived to make them more networked rather than in silos. Coupled with evolving the BPM method to encompass this new way of thinking it might have been an enterprise revolution.

    Instead everyone jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, created just chatty BPM software and didn't really want to understand anything more.

    Leave social to the experts for now or at least invest in talent who know more than the marketing guy does.

  • I think the biggest challenge is helping people understand what on earth it is? It sounds more like marketing bringing together two of the "in" buzzwords than something in its own right.

    At another level just because we wake up to the fact that people, communication and collaboration does not mean that BPM is social, just that we recognise that BPM is more than technology. So I guess people + technology does not equal Social BPM.

    Coming to the issues around Social, social networking appears to be something where groups of people with a common interest come together and share insights and ideas, the plus point being that they do it when it suits them and on subjects they feel like contributing to. Putting in a platform for sharing ideas does not means you are doing BPM.

    So I go back to my question what actually is Social BPM, how does it differ from BPM - is it just an attempt to provide a communication platform for sharing while designing automation? Is it the inclusion of "listeners" so that you can capture where and when your customers are talking about your products or services on social networks and then have that captured information start off processes within your organisation automatically?

    Back to the question, biggest challenge, explaining what it actually is and how it is practical benefit to me.

  • Mark, I'm with you: the first challenge is to come to a common understanding of the term Social BPM.
    And the other big challenge is convincing enterprises that in the medium term they won't be able to do any business if it is not social-enabled.
    Theo, I agree that a definition like yours is ill-conceived. That's why I don't define social BPM as an integration of social widgets into BPM platforms. That's just toys for children.
    The real social BPM applies especially at the organization level, leveraging on social bounds between people within and across the enterprise, for increasing the performance of the processes of enterprise itself.
    You may want to see some of my blog posts and discussions on Social BPM or one of my presentations that I posted on SlideShare on the topic.

  • Relevance.

    The biggest problem, in the end, is that in the majority of cases, "social" is simply not how processes are designed or managed. Social sounds good, and we get to use a lot of buzzwords like "collaboration" and "feedback" and all that—but it's not actually how things work.

    As a rule, there are a finite number of players involved in most business processes. These people are experts in what they're doing, and they don't necessarily need to crowdsource their ideas.

    Social isn't incompatible with BPM—but it's not a core component, either.

  • I think Scott Menter (above) has it about right. Most processes are linear and structured and social is chaotic and non-linear.

    Clearly there are some processes that lend themselves to a more collaborative approach in the creative aspects of our businesses. Here is where social-BPM can augment the activity by giving just enough structure without limiting innovation.

    But even in the most mundane process there is always an opportunity for comments and suggestions about optimizing the delivery of the good or service. Adding social adjuncts to the automation can deliver some benefits.

    The question has to be is the cost of doing this worth the potential benefit? My vote would be "yes" because social is here to stay and users are becoming used to working in this manner. We must adapt and adopt the new paradigm faster than our users do.

    • Yep, totally agree with Kevin here that there are benefits to incorporating user feedback in processes. I also think it's reasonable to refer to that as "social", although as pretty much everybody has pointed out, a good definition of "social BPM" remains evasive.

  • Most of the social intentions i've seem in the BPM industry were in process design. Indeed 'cloudy chatting and sharing' possibilities in process modelling tools.

    Nice but not that much value.

    I think we must not talk about social BPM. It is just BPM and organizations have to cope with the social landscape of these days. In their processes, but also as an organization as a whole.

    And then it is not about processmodel-chatting but it is about the impact of social on the execution of processes.

    Customers have much more channels to communicate. Are processes suited for that? Do they take advantage of that?

    But social does not only have impact on individual processes. Also on the organization as a whole. Within a minute a billion people know when you screwed up.

    So I don't think Social must be claimed by BPM.

    Organizations have to think about a social adaptation strategy and the for sure it will drill down towards their processes.

    So the biggest challenge is to silence all the boys and girls who try to tell that social belongs to BPM.

  • Peter's question has certainly brought out the wolves! But the insights on social BPM are deserved. Especially noteworthy are Marco's reasonable characterization of the topic as "toys for children" and Scott's note that for many processes, there are a "finite number of players", i.e. relevant experts and stakeholders, and that these players have no "need to crowdsource their ideas".

    The topic of social and BPM is one of long-standing interest to me; I even have the interesting book, published last year, "Social BPM - Work, Planning and Collaboration Under the Impact of Social Technology".

    Here's the question: Are the criticisms noted in this thread inherent to social BPM as a concept, in which case social BPM will "never work"? Or alternatively, is it only a case of new technology, a little over-hyped, and a question of time and maturity?

    My own answer is also informed by my personal experience of work. I would dearly love to enjoy a technical work environment where tasks and dialogue flowed effortlessly through systems, and helped inform the hundreds of micro-tasks I have to perform every day -- in concert with my colleagues. So, for me, the vision of social BPM is part of the answer to the challenge of personal work.

    But for the promise of social BPM to be realized, first of all the idea of "social" need to be understood, defined and instantiated in technology. This means that concepts of "narrative" or "story", which comprise the foundation of human understanding and perception of work, are more explicitly expressed in social technologies. Add to that better tools for "annotation" and "presentation" and you begin to approach usability beyond the fragmented delivery of today's marriage of "social + BPM".

    A second requirement for social BPM is a better understanding of "task", "project" and "work", which also shades into the idea of "case". But if we enable the easy management of narratives, the question is "narratives on what", and the answer is "on the project" etc., in which case the project has to be well presented to the user of BPM, beyond the usual task list or decontextualized form.

    A third requirement for social BPM is that "governance of social technologies" should be well understood and managed, in the broadest of terms. These terms include questions of the economics of process modeling, and of the ownership of ideas. Governance also concerns question of power and the autonomy of process workers. For example, it is likely impossible to model all exceptions for any given process, due to complexity and unknowability. For this reason, social BPM can be important as a technology used during the resolution of unmodeled process exceptions.

    Social BPM technology is immature and the governance issues are daunting. But the need is there; we have a beginning.

    • You make a number of good points here, but I want to zero in on one of them in particular: the use of annotation as an adjunct to BPM, and the "social" nature of processes leveraging that function. We are doing some work in this area, most of which I can't talk about at the moment. Until your comments, I admit I hadn't thought of annotation and review as a "social" effort, any more than a typical review-and-approval. But on reflection I believe you're right to put it into that category.

      Thanks for the insight.

  • I see "social" BPM as the understanding of the informal processes that exist in any work place. It is part of the value network movement. How technology supports requires new key capabilities. I rather liked the "collaboration flows" in this http://confusedofcalcutta.com/2012/06/17/continuing-with-the-social-enterprise-and-flows/
    • Inclusive rather than exclusive, low barriers to entry
    • Nevertheless, associated clearly with identity, not anonymity
    • Designed for sharing, for community
    • Secure: full audit log, archived, persistent, searchable, retrievable
    • Instant, real-time
    • Yet shiftable in time and place, so that asynchronous work can be performed
    • Carrying contextual metadata cheaply
    • Embedded with enterprise social objects that themselves attract commentary and revision
    • Able to operate in and across multiple channels
    • Subscriber- rather than publisher-powered
    • Built to internet and public cloud standards
    • Transparent, inspectable
    • Built to make use of communal ability to learn rather than individual stocks of knowledge

    I would emphasis "time" as an important element it may indeed be the only control to allow empowerment?


  • Enjoy the discussion, many in-depth comments and comprehensive blogs about social BPM, if BPM is about managing knowing from flowing, then, social BPM is about encouraging and influencing process innovation and optimization, beyond just managing process automation,

    Besides hard process, it intends to touch intangible organizational factors such as culture, to enhance culuture of DIY and innovation at future of business: http://futureofcio.blogspot.com/2012/08/three-diys-at-future-of-enterprise.html

    That said, social BPM is not only focus on process, it's about understanding the nature correlation & connection between people and process, if traditional BPM is a bit artifical mechanism, then, social BPM seems more nature & artistic. thanks.

  • Really nice discussion and data points about the most sought after buzz word in the BPM arena these days - enjoyed it!!

    As “Social BPM” is just a concept that describes collaboratively designed and iterated processes. The term is very synonymous with “socially enabled processes”.

    Well this is not something "New", Social BPM is just an enabler for faster processing and for a better visibility of the business process from an end-user/customer perspective. With the current trend where Social Media has gained so much momentum, BPM just provides the option to reduce the friction between the business and the end user by involving a wider audience in a short span of time.

    Moreover its not necessarily a mandate. Every enterprise must decide on whether to adopt Social BPM based on the business objectives it is trying to achieve. Social BPM becomes very handy in situations where the social data needs to be exploited to reap better benefits targeted towards customer centricity. However, in some cases, the security concerns stop the enterprise from adopting and venturing into the Social BPM arena. So, every firm has to take a call based on the trade-off - this is where it makes the difference.

    So, in a nutshell we can say : “Social BPM energizes and super-charges BPM” :-)

    And very rightly summarized by John "Social BPM technology is immature and the governance issues are daunting.But the need is there; we have a beginning."

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