Cloud, Collaboration Combat Political Blocks to BPM
By Marie Lingblom
Fifty-three percent of 157 business process management (BPM) professionals recently surveyed by Gartner identified organizational politics as the main obstacle stalling wider adoption of BPM.
Organizational politics has, of course, long hampered change in any form. Some political mud may be too thick, but there is good news. Engaging individual employees and utilizing cloud computing, in particular, are among the positive signs BPM is on a pathway to widespread adoption, according to two recent Gartner reports.
BPM, notes Elise Olding, research director at Gartner, is frequently successful when applied to one-off projects at a departmental level with significant benefits.
“When it comes to scaling this success up to cross-departmental programs that require collaboration and shared metrics, or that institutionalize BPM throughout the organization, efforts often stall,” said Olding.
Game mechanics and BPM cloud platforms are eyed as tools to move through the political mud by engaging employees interactively to gain confidence in process improvement. Gartner suggests by 2015, 25 percent of all redesigned processes will include one or more “gamified” engagement practices.
In a separate report, Gartner singles out BPM vendors including EMC, Fujisu, IBM, and Oracle for innovation in products, business models, consulting and educational services. Gartner points to key strategies such as introducing new software as a service, cloud offerings, business process outsourcing alliances, and development of partner ecosystems.
BPM cloud platforms, in particular, are being singled out as effective, particularly when it comes to support for “shadow business processes.” Gartner characterizes these as hidden, informal work practices, often supported under the IT radar by secret spreadsheets, e-mails, phone calls, and face-to-face collaboration.
BPM cloud platforms are a better and more cost-effective way to automate hidden processes than “secret spreadsheets or uncoordinated e-mail threads,” said Michele Cantara, research vice president at Gartner.
A BPM cloud platform, or BPM platform as a service, can track process steps, provide insight into work item status and help manage the collaborative interactions involved in unstructured processes.
For instance, high-productivity BPM Platform as a Service (PaaS) will provide shadow process owners with a more attractive and productive experience, which may be more likely to encourage them to share information.
IBM recently debuted a new version of its public cloud for the enterprise. The IBM SmartCloud, with services including what the company says is the first PaaS specifically designed for enterprise cloud application development, deployment and management.
Over the next five years, Gartner predicts competition among PaaS vendors will produce new programming models, new standards and new software market leaders.
A note of caution as PaaS development continues, says Gartner, is some confusion among potential business users until more comprehensive PaaS service portfolios emerge. Gartner’s Yefim Natis, meanwhile, says while there are always risks with use of new technologies, the risk of avoiding the PaaS market is equally high.
Natis, a vice president at Gartner, said PaaS products are likely to evolve into a major component of the overall cloud computing market. He compared it to middleware products, including application servers, database management systems, integration middleware and portal platforms—the core foundation of the traditional software industry.
“The tension between the short-term risk and long-term strategic imperative of PaaS,” said Natis, will define key cloud market developments over the next two to three years.