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July 22, 2011


Socializing Business Process Management

By Larry Walsh

Business process management (BPM) is the stuff of, well, processes. It’s the combination of blueprints, tools (often software) and execution of thought-out business processes that ensure strict adherence to rules, progress and outcomes.

In some organizations, BPM is seen as a burden more than a savior. It’s often a matter of perspective. BPM is designed with rigidity in mind, ensuring complex organizations are focused on execution and ensuring tasks, information and products are effectively passed through the system to their eventual conclusion. And, if all goes as it should, that conclusion is marked by a better product.

Funny thing, though, BPM – by definition – is everything that the social world isn’t. BPM is very linear, where the conventional social networks and socialized communications are often chaotic – at least on the surface. To the casual observer, BPM and the socialization trend sweeping over the consumer world would be in near complete conflict. But they’re not.

Increasingly socializing agents and social communications tools are being incorporated into internal and externally facing business applications. Far from being a mechanism for chaos and broad dissemination of information, they are being used for gathering huge amounts of intelligence and conveying focused communications.

Just the other day, I hosted a Webcast discussion with Bob Blithstein, the CEO of IDP, a software-as-a-service company that specializes in building customer service portals for small insurance carriers. IDP recently went through the process of redeveloping their core product on the IBM Websphere software stack. The reasons are many: need for greater scalability, performance, costs and – most importantly – the ability to add capabilities that enable IDP and its clients to communicate with customers through social tools.

Check out the archived Webcast here.

Jeff Seifert, the global sales executive of portal solutions at IBM, also a participant on the Webcast, noted that social communications tools are fast becoming an imperative in next-generation Web sites for communicating with customers and enabling customers to communicate with peers. It’s no longer a one-way or two-way conversation; customer relationship management is an omnidirectional communications process.

Now, let’s bring this back to BPM, which is often an internal process. The same mechanism are being incorporated into enterprise applications to glean information from public facing customer forums, analyze customer activity and diagnose problems in service and product delivery mechanisms. Social analysis is the means for quickly identifying problem before they become problems.

Internally, socialization tools and communications mediums are expediting the transfer of information and knowledge through the business process chain. If one department has a question on an application, they can simply ‘tweet’ – or some equivalent term – a query to the rest of the team and quickly get a response. There’s no waiting for “the right person” to respond to ponderous emails. And the same diagnostic value is applicable internally – businesses can study the internal social traffic to identify process and product problems.

BPM is definitely stodgy and rules oriented by design to keep businesses functioning well. Social communications within traditional business applications won’t erode but rather enhance their value.

Read more from BPM
  1. Aug 26 2012

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  2. Sep 26 2012

    I like that cut and I like the print but I am not crazy concerning the two together. If the coat was solid and about a dress with that print I’d love it.

  3. Sep 26 2012

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