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Tech for Tomorrow

Doug Mow

Innovation BPM vs. Social BPM

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Baselinemag.com just put up an article How to be More Innovative , by Brian P Wilson. His assertion is innovation has been in hibernation since the economic fallout. He says companies have been highly focused on cutting costs and increasing efficiency, not stimulating their creative innovation engines. But two weeks ago I had a very different experience when I met with two established companies that demonstrated advanced applications on iPads and iPhones. One company is a large bank in the EU and the other manages a large public transportation infrastructure in the UK. Both informal meetings were with marketers. The transportation guy demonstrated his app on an iPhone and the bank guy demonstrated his app on an iPad.

The transportation app anticipated the increased rider flow for the 2012 Olympics in London. In the UK, the infrastructure, the schedule and the capacity are all fixed. If an Olympic event coincides with a commuter schedule there could be chaos at a station. Instead of re-routing vehicles or drivers, it is easier to re-route the passengers. The iPhone app notification is one of the more expedient methods of getting the notice to the passengers. Another option is the digital signage that will be installed. In any case, the messages will have to be translated into many languages. They are also considering using Twitter hash tags and SMS text messaging. In the background, massive amounts of data will have to be extracted, crunched, sorted and displayed. It seemed like there were strong BPM, ECM and DW/BI engines running in the background driving a mobile app with social.

The prototype of the app I saw included ticket purchase not only for transportation but for the Olympic events as well. The app also supported weather, hotel accommodations, restaurants, and transportation outside of the company's system all in one great interface. It was slick. I was amazed at the degree of creativity and innovation in an organization well over one hundred years old, partially owned by the government. Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks!

The iPad-based banking app was equally impressive. It not only included your standard home banking portal, it included links to insurance sites. There was an app set up by the insurance business for parking cars on the street. Community participants could rate streets based on the danger of break in or theft. The insurance organization set up and sponsored the site but then let the community take over. It was their way of giving back to the community. In an industry focused on risk, here is an insurance company that has overcome their fear of the risks of social.

The bank is also operating as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). MVNO is an idea that quickly came and went in the US. ESPN, Disney and Playboy all had a go. They attempted to provide a branded mobile experience that provided privileged access to their content. US-based MVNO's reached their highest levels in 2005 (not very high) and came crashing to earth in 2006 and 2007. But, this bank sells mobile phones customized to interface with their banking systems. Many of their apps are preloaded so there is no configuration. They are also working on a payment system through the phone, something the US market has discussed for years. Their rate plans are competitive and they have an impressive assortment of phones. Social, mobile BPM here we come.

What does it take to get an organization to innovate like that? Obviously, age doesn't matter. Is it culture? Is it the technology? Apparently, you're never too old to boogie.

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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