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The way Gartner analyst Jim Sinur sees it, process management is entering an era of renaissance driven by sweeping changes in business, technology and culture, with far more transformation likely between now and 2020.

“Dynamic goals, client needs and a mobile workforce are changing the nature of work,” the Gartner Research vice president told an audience of business and IT officials at the recent Gartner BPM Summit in Baltimore. “Processes will have to change to respond to these moving targets”—and the relationship between people and processes will evolve as well. “Work is going to be much more visual and dynamic moving forward,” Sinur said, adding that collaboration will continue to grow in importance.

Organizations and people alike are becoming more “liquid,” and, in response, processes are already becoming more flexible. “The advent of social-mobile-cloud is changing processes. They’re not as structured,” Sinur said. That trend is likely to continue, he said: “Processes are going to have to change and respond to targets because that’s what business has to do.”

Meanwhile, companies are dealing with more event data than ever before. According to Sinur’s research, large companies are taking in 10,000 to 10 millions of business events per second from their systems, the Internet, information feeds, sensors and other sources—each one a potential process trigger requiring a response.

One looming impact of all that change: “Organizations will be scored on revenue per hour—the revenue/productivity marriage,” Sinur said. Generating revenue will be critical, of course, “and cost reduction is just expected,” he said. But businesses will also need to move faster than ever, reducing the time needed to make key decisions, get products and services to the marketplace and adjust to change. The new mantra will be: Work smart, not just hard.

As a result, processes will be expected to generate revenue or innovation—while cutting costs. “Processes will have to be smarter,” Sinur said. An airline or airport, for example, might develop processes for dynamically rerouting passengers or scheduling support services for arriving and departing flights.

Among other things, processes will also need to be able to adapt to intense types of work, support demand for customization and provide real-time response to change. “We believe that processes will have to proactively deal with multiple and creative scenarios,” he said.

Processes will need to use gaming interfaces aimed at newer, younger generations: “The time has come for funware,” Sinur said, citing one of the Summit’s main themes. They’ll also leverage big data, advanced visualization and predictive analytics.

It’s never too early to start thinking about the future of process improvement, Sinur said. Short-term—over about 90 days—BPM specialists serious about being part of the renaissance should:

• Seek out “business visionaries” who can help them evaluate their processes for revenue-generating or innovation opportunities.
• Develop a plan for tackling those opportunities.
• Find the right people to execute that plan.

Longer-term—over the next year—BPM professionals should implement pilot programs based on intelligent business processes, Sinur said. But they should also keep an eye on the horizon, “scanning for ways of leveraging the results to broader process scopes and impacts that may transform the business.”

READER FEEDBACK: What do you think is ahead for BPM? Is your company considering new approaches to deal with more event data than ever before? Let us know your thoughts. Contact Site Editor Anne Stuart at editor@ebizq.net.

About the Author

Anne Stuart, ebizQ's editor from mid-2010 to mid-2013, is now senior editor for SearchCloudApplications.com at ebizQ's parent company, TechTarget. She is a veteran journalist who has written for national magazines, daily newspapers, an international news service and many Web sites. She’s specialized in covering business and technology issues for 20 years. Based in Newton, Mass., she can be reached at astuart@techtarget.com. Follow Anne on Google+ and at annestuart_TT on Twitter. For general questions about ebizQ, please e-mail editor@ebizQ.net.

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