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Editor’s Note: In this Q & A, ebizQ’s Peter Schooff and Forrester Research’s Clay Richardson discuss the benefits, current status and projected future for mobile BPM. Richardson, a senior analyst, is a frequent speaker at Forrester events. This interview, excerpted from a longer podcast, has been edited for length, clarity and editorial style.

ebizQ: What would you say is the biggest impact mobile will have on BPM?

It’s what mobile is doing to BPM right now that is really changing the way we think about process. What we've seen over the last couple of years is more companies putting apps in front of processes: "We've got a nice app; let's try to put it in front of our process."

But now, going forward, we're seeing organizations begin to rethink how processes need to operate in a mobile world, which is a very different paradigm. We're seeing more companies looking to optimize processes for task, as opposed to optimizing the full stream of processes.

At Forrester, we did a survey that found that 126 million tablets will be in use by U.S. consumers by 2016. And by 2015, the mobile-app market will grow to $55.7 billion, almost $56 billion. [With that level of growth,] we really see process being either a positive, being able to help consumers take full advantage of their mobile devices and apps, or becoming a drag in this new mobile world that we're moving into. So the optimization of processes to live in a mobile world—or, as we say, a digital world—is going to have huge impact on process professionals and enterprise architects going forward.

ebizQ: That leads into my next question, which is: How, then, can companies and their processes can best take advantage of mobile?

You can't have a conversation about mobile and process without talking about the customer experience. Really, mobile and customer experience go hand in hand—but they become even more intertwined when we start talking about process.

With some of the customers that I've worked with over the last year or so, before we even get into mobile, we talk to them about their customer experience, about really understanding what sort of customer experience they are trying to deliver. Then [we discuss] what processes need to change to deliver that customer experience.

Where the mobile piece comes in is [when companies] start to think about what mobile will do to change that experience, the opportunity that mobile presents to change that experience and to extend the reach of process. That's really a good place to start when you're looking at how to bring mobile into play [in your] business process: Really start thinking about what customer experience you want to be able to deliver. Then [look at] how mobile used as a catalyst can begin to simplify that experience, and simplify the processes that need to support that experience.

ebizQ: What kind of mistakes have you seen out there?

I see a lot of mistakes, and not just in customers that we work with, but also in my day-to-day life.

Recently, I ordered a pizza from one of the delivery pizza places. Mobile is all about simplicity; mobile is “I want to be able to order my pizza in five minutes or less.” When I went to order this pizza, I was running short on time, and I had my daughter and my wife kind of pulling at me saying, “Hey, we need a pizza now, not next week. Can you get it quick?”

I realized I could download this [mobile] app that the pizza delivery company has instead of getting on my laptop. So I downloaded the app onto my iPad, and it took me 20 minutes to order the pizza. It took me 20 minutes when I thought it was going to take me five. I could have fired my laptop up and ordered the pizza through my normal Web experience, but I really expected a much more streamlined, faster experience [with mobile], almost a one-click ordering type of thing.

Today’s process architects, business architects, people that are connecting mobile with process, they have to think about that kind of simplification. Where we see companies make mistakes is when they basically say, ‘Okay, I'm going to take this experience that the customer has on the Web, with all the process pieces, and we're just going to put a mobile app in front of it.” That really doesn't work.

They should be thinking about the exact task, and explicit tasks that the customer is trying to accomplish, and then optimizing for those tasks. It really becomes less about process optimization and more about task optimization, [that is,] “How do I optimize these specific tasks in the process that customers touch to give them the outcomes that they desire?”

Nine times out of 10, a mobile customer desires getting something done quickly, faster than in any other channel. They want it done now, in one second if they can. And if they're not happy with the result, if your process is a drag, it's actually hindering getting to that one-second delivery, then they're going to throw your app away. We're living in an app-enabled world where everyone is looking at apps, but they also know they can go and get another app just as quickly. So we see all these throwaway apps. A lot of [the problem] comes from these processes that are poured in cement and act as bricks in terms of being able to get things done quickly. So it's really looking at these endpoints of tasks that need to be done, then optimizing those endpoints for the outcomes that people desire.

ebizQ: Great example. How about some examples on the other side, where companies have taken advantage of mobile and BPM?

We're starting to see some good examples. But I think the majority of them are embedded in environments where there's value to be gained by pushing the process further and further out, even to the point where the customers own and manage their processes.

An example that I’ve been looking at is Ottawa Hospital. They see the true promise of BPM only being [realized] when mobile is combined with BPM, where the doctor is actually in the room with the patient, able to engage and deliver the outcome that the patient desires. The patients can take that same experience and be able to take ownership of their health using mobile, if you will, when they come to the doctor, when the doctor is engaged with them.

[The best examples involve] those sort of experiences, where the process becomes untethered from the traditional laptop or traditional PC and it's able to move into this digital world and engage and give the human touch.

We’ve also have seen examples of companies like Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where they're beginning to use mobile to drive a better customer experience. What they're really looking at is, “How do I help customers find the transportation that they need in their current geography, close to them, and have that available to them? How can I give them guidance on where to go, how they can get the right ride, if you will, at the right time?”

Enterprise has something called “RideShare,” [a customized vanpool and ride-sharing service for commuters and companies]. It’s connecting different commuters up with people that have cars and are willing to share rides. It's real time; it provides the right guidance. But more important, the mobile and BPM connection is about bringing a faster outcome, being able to optimize for that task.

ebizQ: We’re pretty much at the early stages for mobile and BPM. Where do you really see this going both for mobile and for BPM? Are we looking for a total overhaul for BPM?

We have this new [combination] that's revolutionary. It is revolutionary in the sense that the iPhone was revolutionary. It just becomes a part of our living, of how we do business, of how we carry on our daily lives. That's really what we're looking at with this combination of BPM and mobile: Mobile becomes the interface for how people engage. One of my colleagues, [Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst] Ted Schadler, published a great report around this, “Mobile is the New Face of Engagement.”

If we think about that—mobile being this new face of how work gets done—the intersection of mobile and BPM really means that BPM has to be rethought for this mobile world. When we start rethinking, it's not an overhaul like “Let's go reengineer the whole world for mobile.” We [at Forrester] don't see that. We see a much smarter, more focused way of identifying the endpoints that need to be changed and tailored for the mobile experience. There's probably not a good term to use for this, but it's really a smarter way of doing process reengineering.

If we think about process reengineering in the ‘90s, it was really all about overhaul, about “Let’s overhaul everything so we can cut cost, cut headcount, the whole nine yards.” This new world that we're moving in, where mobile is a disruptive force, is really about very intelligent overhaul. [The current approach is:] “Let's go and pinpoint, zero in on, exactly the pieces that need to be optimized, not trying to analyze and optimize the whole thing.”

If we go out five years, the focus becomes “Let’s optimize these endpoints, [develop] new skills and capabilities around endpoint optimization.” What we'll also see is more and more people initiating processes through mobile and really relying on, expecting that, “I can get my work done no matter where I am. I can actually engage the customer no matter where I am.”

Last but not least, with this combination of mobile and BPM, customers start taking more ownership of the processes themselves. So in the future, you may go into an Apple Store and, instead of having to go and talk to a [high-level customer-service employee called a Genius], you can have your iPad there, you can actually engage and say, “This is the experience I want.” I don’t want a Genius to talk to me when I come into the Apple Store. I'd rather just see what offers are available for me, see what new things are available, see who else is in the store, see who I might want to talk to outside of a Genius and see who might have been in the store earlier.

It's really about those sorts of scenarios, in terms of customers taking ownership of their processes, of their experiences, and employees being able to be more engaged around delivering those experiences. That’s what we see that this mobile-process world can bring. It's pushing us further into digital business, and being able to operate in a more digital way, without having these barriers between the real world and a laptop, which is where we are right now.

READER FEEDBACK: Have you used mobile to enhance your BPM initiatives? If so, ebizQ editors would like to hear about your experience. Contact Site Editor Anne Stuart at editor@ebizq.net.

About the Author

Peter Schooff is a former contributing editor for ebizQ, where he also managed the ebizQ Forum for several years. Previously, Peter managed the database operations for a major cigar company, served as writer/editor of an early Internet entertainment site and developed a computer accounting system for several retail stores. Peter can be reached at pschooff@techtarget.com.

More by Peter Schooff

About ebizQ

ebizQ is the insider’s guide to next-generation business process management. We offer a growing collection of independent editorial articles on BPM trends, issues, challenges and solutions, all targeted to business and IT BPM professionals.

We cover BPM standards, governance, technology and continuous process improvement, as well as process discovery, modeling, simulation and optimization, among many other areas. We follow case management, decision management, business rules management, operational intelligence, complex event processing and other related topics. We closely track important trends such as the rise of social BPM, mobile BPM and BPM in the cloud. We also explore BPM’s use in functional areas, such as supply chain and customer management, and in key verticals, such as financial services, health care, insurance and government.

ebizQ's other BPM-oriented content includes podcasts, webcasts, webinars, white papers, a variety of expert blogs, a lively online forum and much more.



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