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In this interview, Peter Schooff speaks with Andrew Smith, managing director of One Degree Consulting Ltd., about the benefits and challenges of taking a holistic approach to BPM.

PS: What would you say is the current state of BPM in the enterprise?

AS: BPM, this year, has gotten a lot more press. Because of that, across the enterprise, it's a lot more understood. In previous years, BPM had been more of a "black box" environment that people that had heard of, but they didn't actually understand it, especially from a business point of view…We've seen BPM becoming more mainstream, a bit more adopted, so it's becoming more prominent. More people are looking at it and thinking about it.

I think that's a good thing, but I wouldn't say it's really been triggered by anything new in BPM. It's got more to do with the current economic climate and other IT trends in the last two or three years [including better understanding of SOA and, as a result, increase in event-based BPM]. Event-based BPM aligns better with actual businesses themselves, and it's a bit more easy for someone from a business background to understand and grasp potentially what BPM can offer.

PS: How do you see BPM becoming more holistic?

AS: There are really three things to remember--or three methods, if you like.

The first, and probably the one that holds the most amount of impact, is the breaking down of barriers with other silos. I see that as a natural fit between BPM, case management, [enterprise content management] and [customer relationship management] for that particular point. But BPM needs to become a little bit more intelligent. To do that, we need to consider, "What's my BPM actually giving me as an end user?" It's usually dealing with particular content. So where is that content being stored? Realistically, that content should be stored in an enterprise content management solution; then you've got a natural fit between the two, BPM and ECM.

However, your BPM system doesn't really understand the true content, or context or even the stages of that particular document or whatever is making up that particular BPM task of work to do. The only way you can really do that is to start merging these individual silos….You need to have that 360-degree view of everything that's going on for particular content and for particular business processes. I think the only way you really do that now is by breaking down the silos and the barriers that are there.


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