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What is the right way to use mobile with BPM?

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As Clay Richardson writes here, "Today's business and technology leaders continue to respond to the mobile opportunity with the wrong answers." So what is the right way to use mobile with BPM?

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  • Mobile technology is the only way to use BPM. The workforce is fast-becoming centered around mobile, so any technology that doesn't follow that trend faces irrelevance.

    Coincidentally, this is Mobile Week at Successful Workplace. Join the fun: http://successfulworkplace.com/category/technology/mobility/

    Clay summed it up in his first bullet: "Shift your focus from process optimization to endpoint optimization." The PC is for content creation/curation. The mobile device is where business happens. While that statement may not be accurate for all businesses right now, it will be very, very soon.

  • We can't just look at mobile as apps and devices. Information has a very short half-life. Mobile helps maximize value.

    We have to look at our processes and information and ask ourselves a simple question: "What if the barriers to this information or process were completely removed, and I could know and act on this information at its peak value to me and my organization?"

    That's what mobile is about. It's about getting processes and information to the right people at the righ time to maximize value.

  • Unfortunately Clay's example of his pizza woes are all too common. Organisations with little grasp of mobile technology simply replicate the web experience via an app but the web experience was not built to be mobile when first launched and the additional steps required for authentication are not necessarily required for the mobile user.

    What's required is a deep understanding of just how people use their mobiles, how information can be stored securely on the device, to call existing apps into play that already hold required information in order to shorten the process.

    For example, I regularly use the eBay app, and when I decide to pay for an item it calls the PayPal app automatically and uses the payment details already stored to initiate the transaction. It's seamless. I don't require to log into PayPal separately, or enter another set of passwords.

    In Clay's case, a webform for pizza delivery may take 5-6 steps but if you have an account created with details previously stored then the delivery and payment options will already be processed. Similarly, with a mobile device you already have this information plugged in so the process should already be looking for this information before you've even begun to choose what topping you want.

    Organisations leveraging mobility need to know how to access the available data, when to do so within the process to create a seamless exchange and experience, and design the process for mobility not a one-size fits all approach. Mobility is almost a subset of the full process, in fact I'd dare say it's the streamlined process we all want and strive for but can't achieve because of our legacy thinking being tied to the desktop.

    (eg they still design login using email, they still send confirmation by email. Since when was email ever designed to be mobile)

    Mobile will be far more disruptive to process than Social if we harness it in the right way.


  • Too often I hear companies say "we're developing an iPhone app" and they think that they have got "mobile" sorted.

    BPM is about understanding, simplifying, improving and reducing the cost and error rates of business processes. The act of BPM should surface opportunities where mobile can play a role.

    Otherwise it is just another technology looking for a problem to solve.

  • All good stuff.
    I'm a bit late in finishing a blog post on this topic, and I might have missed the boat already!
    Apart from echoing many of the comments above I'd also advocate thinking of the affordances of today's advanced mobile devices. These things aren't just wirelessly connected mobile screens. They're connected cameras, scanners, audio and speech recorders, location capture devices, personal identity devices, and more.
    John Tesmer above makes a great point - the value of these things are about removing barriers between people (employees and customers, partners, suppliers) and information. If you can remove some of those barriers, what does that mean you can do?

  • Although you can imagine that many processes, like brewing beer or recycling telephones (this is a philosophical one ;-), can still perform for years without mobile devices in their surroundings, for sure it can (and does) impact many other processes in a positive way.

    But what is mobile? Theo talked about this in his linked article. I assume it’s indeed not the same as social, but the possibility to get in contact with anyone, anything, anyplace at any time. It’s an enabler to be social. Like a car is my device for (trying to) be social and visit my family twice a century.

    And there are days that you wonder how the world could possible have functioned without mobile devices.

    I still remember the time when only one of the 6 neighbors in my flat had a telephone. Nowadays I can even order a pizza when I’m on the north pole (I wonder if it will be delivered warm..).

    I still remember that I had to walk to my tv to switch channels. Now I can control it with my Ipad.

    I still remember the day I had to go to the office to print my worklist for that day. Now it just pops up on my tablet.

    I still remember the day that I had to go to the pub to meet my friends..... mmm actually I can’t remember. But that has nothing to do with mobile.

    So yes, it has huge impact on processes.

    And then I am talking about the execution and managing of processes. Getting the work done, control it (if needed) and create connections between employees, customers, information, applications, process control etc.

    For improvement, modeling and those kinds of side projects; I don’t think mobile doesn’t have that impact as some modeling tool vendors want us to believe.

    As Ian stated above, we must be aware not to misuse the possibilities of the technology and see mobile as the thing that makes all our processes better.

    Always first be aware of the process and it’s characteristics and see where mobile operated actions can leverage the performance of the process.

    So you can imagine that it will have huge impact on information processing processes. Enabling employees, customers other stakeholders to join and share the process when necessary, see relevant information etc. That creates enormous flexibility.

    So yes, there’s another enabler for process performance in town. Use it much but use it wisely, so don't forget that your processes aren't invented to increase the revenue of apple, samsung or nokia ;-)

  • Our take on enabling processes for mobile scenarios is different from the typical BPM approach.

    Instead of concentrating on end-to-end business processes that distribute work to appropriate people as the long-running process unfolds, we concentrate on micro-processes, the processes that individual users need to go through to keep systems-of-record up to date on a day-to-day basis. When those users are in the field, it is especially important that there be a convenient way to accomplish those updates from the phone, without being presented with a shrunk-down version of the entire application.

    The appropriate UI is one that can be created by a regular user (not even an analyst) and presents and asks for only the information that is appropriate to their scenario. Check out cloudextend.com to see a video of this.

  • Interesting thing about mobile, though, is the additional challenge it offers to form and process designers.

    For example, when designing a process to accept approvals via email, one has to consider the possibility of ill-formed responses, latency of confirmations, and so forth, that aren't an issue when the user is sitting at her screen in the office. Similarly, the huge variety of form factors and underlying display capabilities across mobile devices can make form design very tricky indeed.

    So the "right way" is also the "hard way": spending even more time planning a consistent and intuitive user experience. User experience is the process within the process, requiring as much thought and consideration as the overall workflow itself.

  • Interesting Discussion!!
    As Emiel, rightly mentioned "Mobile" is an enabler when it comes to BPM.
    To put it in one line "Mobile BPM helps us to work and process task instances on the Move" i.e. The work gets done with the tap of the fingers...and without even setting a foot in the office.
    Definitely agree with Theo's viewpoints on concerning issues like security, authorization and privileged access which needs to be taken into account.

    Having said that there are scenarios and use-cases which will make life easy for business with the MobileBPM inception. A few scenarios for instance :
    - Freight Management System (lets say..whenever we are on travel/journey "the biggest idle time" we become impatient and want to have tap on all our pending tasks...and get curious for no reason..Aah where is my iPhone that i ordered last week...Why was it not delivered...When will i get it..Let me escalate it...etc etc.. )
    - ATM Locators and Geo maps as a part of the business process
    - Manufacturing or a Logistic Industry with the updates from the Field/Site (Live statistics and status updates)
    - Adding Camera Pics as work instance attachments for reference
    ...and many more

    And as per one the tweets "It took 100 years to get 1 billion land lines, 10 years for 1 billion #mobile phones, and only 1 year for 1 billion #smartphones" - Definitely MobileBPM is the need of the hour!!

    But personally, I believe, we cannot totally cut off the "Web", instead "Mobile" can actually act as an "add-on" or "handshake"
    e.g: I initiate a work object from web --> Update the same work instance with live status updates and attachment of pics via Mobile from the Site/Field -> Later the same process can be continued from the Web

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