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Tech for Tomorrow

Doug Mow

Social BPM - Social or BPM, which is it?

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One of the more prevalent topics on the conference tour is "social BPM." Social is on a collision course with every aspect of every enterprise and BPM is no exception. But, the two sides of the term could not be more diverse as illustrated by the vibe at two recent conferences.

The BPM camp is enabling a structured approach with a high degree of analysis and planning. Its objective is to improve cross-functional business processes, efficiencies and agilities. Employee effectiveness, reduced costs, and improved ability to respond to business changes are critical business benefits.

The social "collective" is all about collaboration. RoI is difficult to measure. In some instances, discussions of RoI from social media platforms are met with disdain. Business benefits are extremely difficult to articulate. But many, including me, have accepted social media as inevitable.

The BPM perspective seeks to improve outcomes by expanding the number of participants at discreet points in a process. Take customer service as an example. Once the customer problem is recognized, triaged and classified, social media and collaboration platforms can help identify sources of the problem and a solution more quickly. Best Buy was widely recognized for using Twitter to address customer issues in the holiday shopping season of 2009. But the downside is those problems become known to the entire community.

From the other direction, social media platforms would benefit from a little more directed application and IT can help. Offering a social media platform to traditional marketing and customer service platforms integrates IT and functional objectives in a more controlled manner. IT can go to the marketing department and tell them "the next time we launch a new product, let's use this social fabric as a way to get the word out." New client service initiatives could also improve this way. By pursuing initiatives like these, the social side has a much better way to measure RoI - new product sales and trouble resolution time, respectively.

We're just getting started on this. The potential is huge. What are your thoughts on combining BPM and social? Are you on the BPM side or the social side? How difficult is it for you to think from the other side?



Time and again the analysts and terminology seems to focus on the technology aspect and simple Customer use cases and yet there is such a bigger picture at stake. At an internal enterprise level this can really blow away the cobwebs. I would love a Greenfield organisation to embrace this from the start and create a legacy free success story, right now we have years and layers of old entrenched beliefs to wash away.

But it doesn't stop here, as indicated in the recent Forrester #crmjam last night the term 'Social' seems
to offer a glimpse at converging multiple disciplines like BPM, CRM, Case, ECM because it too is highlighting that there is more in common between them than vendors would like us to believe.

Start thinking beyond simple social media and see where your imagination takes you....


As well, expand your vision beyond BPM or CRM and see where your imagination can take you into the social realm. It's big world out there.

Thanks Theo, great comment.

Doug Mow blogs from a business executive's perspective about IT trends, tech news and life in the trenches of an Enterprise 2.0 transformation.

Doug Mow

#CMO of Courion Corporation responsible for all branding, communications, messaging, online and offline marketing. Courion is the leading provider of access management tools that provide maximum access to corporate IT assets with minimal risk.

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