Cloud Helps BPM on Road to Growth
By Marie Lingblom
Business process management, or BPM, has traditionally been thought of as a complex approach best suited for larger companies. As cloud, mobile computing—and people—evolve, however, BPM’s promise of optimization and efficiency is becoming more accessible.
Global Industry Analysts, for instance, estimates the global market for BPM will reach $5.3 billion by 2017. The growth, say analysts, is being fueled by economically attractive cloud computing technologies that make BPM more affordable.
The idea is simple enough: when you align the needs of customers and suppliers with day-to-day business operations, you are able to achieve higher efficiency and customer satisfaction. One of the biggest challenges has been getting business folks and IT folks to speak the same language and embrace change in search of value.
Connie Moore, a principal analyst with Forrester Research who works working with business process professionals, shared some positive observations in a blog report from a recent conference about BPM for financial services. Process practitioners and BPM practitioners, she says, are still discovering each other. Although these two types of people are passionate about improving and transforming processes, they invariably come from different backgrounds and practices, she adds.
“Usually process practitioners get nervous whenever software creeps into the discussion, but this conference is different. It’s great to see both types of practitioners sharing experiences and figuring out how to work together in the future,” Moore said.
Moore also offers some advice to business process practitioners: “drop the jargon.” During a panel discussion, she said, several attendees raised how to talk about BPM with business people. Most of the people asking this question were in the IT organization.
The answer, said Moore, is drop the process talk; instead talk in business terms:
1) Talk about financial results to the C-suite and the board — they do not care about the software, only the outcomes;
2) Discuss business outcomes, business capabilities and business services when talking with business managers and executives — the target operating model is your friend;
3) Describe and validate procedures and checklists when talking with business workers about how the process works — drop the process jargon and use their terms.
As business and IT professionals work to improve their relationships, more technology companies continue to improve BPM products and technologies in significant ways. IBM, for instance, last week introduced new BPM and other software aimed at supporting the integration of social, cloud and mobile technologies.
The goal is to help businesses leverage collaborative capabilities of cloud computing, mobile and social media into their enterprise applications. IBM’s WebSphere serves as the foundational application server, and the new integration software includes IBM Business Process Manager.
The new BPM software combines social collaboration, governance and mobility to improve the way organizations work. The value is visibility into the ways an enterprise changes, manages, measures and improves processes that run their business.
It’s already working for one IBM client: The Ottawa Hospital. Along with IBM, the hospital is building a new system aimed at improving the quality of patient care and better managing the flow of patients throughout the hospital.
The new system builds on IBM’s work in the area of BPM, Operational Decision Management and analytics. Dale Potter, senior vice president and CIO for The Ottawa Hospital described the new system as critical to helping the hospital rethink the manner in which it utilizes its IT infrastructure to cut across functional silos and better coordinate care.
The result is one consolidated view on important data and processes, and getting the right information to physicians at the right time—directly via tablet, smartphone or computer.
BPM’s success in a busy, bureaucratic health care organization, along with Moore’s positive observations among key BPM financial services stakeholders could be signs that market predictions of growth are indeed on track.