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Mobile, social and the cloud are three business and technology forces expected to drive change in enterprises this year. Advances in these areas won't directly affect processes, or at least they shouldn't, unless there is a compelling reason for them to do so.
Holistic management, BPM drivers
Don't let the excitement of BPM drivers take away from the essence of the task at hand
Smart mobile devices are taking the enterprise world by storm and almost certainly will continue to do so in the years ahead. The ability for people to participate in business processes without having to be in the office or use a conventional computer is life-changing. Mobility opens the door to applications that were once unrealistic.
Social tools are proving to be equally transformative, but perhaps in a softer way. Such devices have more to do with communication with humans than connection with systems. Much of what makes good business processes good is their ability to automate the movement of work from one station to another and notify folks about changes in status -- or the lack of same. This works on a systems level, such as when an automated alert is sent, and humans can benefit from it.
Knowledge workers requiring additional expertise to make a decision, develop a forecast or analyze a customer account can use their company's internal social profiles to identify other individuals who may have something to contribute. Externally, social tools can be used to communicate with customers and get feedback on matters that may affect them.
The cloud is a good alternative for organizations that don't wish to upgrade or maintain their own systems, or are seeking a different financial model to facilitate operational or financial flexibility. It is important, however, to consider all the pros and cons of using the cloud and avoid jumping to the technology simply because it is getting so much play.
Mobile, cloud and social technologies exert a gravitational pull on the holistic management approach called business process management (BPM), yet none of them directly have anything to do with process. They can make your process run better, faster or more efficiently, but they are simply among the tools used to facilitate work.
Process-critical information is communicated through a smartphone or tablet, using a mobile network. Workers update colleagues, managers and customers via text, instant message, or private tweet. The engine used to power this process may be cloud-based, like Salesforce.com, or internal and proprietary, but the lesson is the same.
Don't let the excitement of BPM drivers take away from the essence of the task at hand and why it's being done. It's great if mobile, social and cloud capabilities enhance processes, but it's a mistake to charge off after one or all of them just because they exist.
About the author:
Steve Weissman has a 20-year track record of innovation and success in helping organizations derive maximum total value from their information solutions. A seasoned consultant, analyst and professional trainer, he uses his keen strategy, business and technology skills to identify, measure and mesh his clients' needs and goals, and recommend effective best practices and solutions for managing processes, content and data. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 383-4655.