Live From New York — Process Excellence For Financial Services

Today I’ve had the opportunity to speak at and attend a conference about Business Process Management for financial services.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Process practitioners and BPM practitioners 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. Process practitioners typically have Six Sigma black belts and/or practice Lean, and they usually report into business operations or some C-suite business executive. Often, process practitioners do not have any experience in, knowledge about, and interest in BPM software. Conversely, many BPM practitioners work in IT, may report to a director of BPM or the CIO, and have found BPM software to be a powerful way to “modernize” IT and automate improved processes. These two kinds of people desperately need to meet each other, join forces and learn from one another, and ultimately end up in a BPM Center of Excellence together. 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.
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Cloud Computing At NAB: The Media And Cloud Businesses Are Evolving To The Same Economic Model

NAB 2012 - Where Content Comes to LifeWhile the bulk of the enterprise IT market grumbles about the maturity and security of cloud computing services, it looks like the media & entertainment segment is just doing it. At the annual conference for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in Las Vegas, myriad technology vendors are showing off their solutions that are transforming the way video content gets to us and behind the scenes there appears to be a lot of cloud computing making this happen. And there is a strong fit between these two industries because their business and economic models are evolving in complementary ways.


Sure, we all know that video streaming to your phone, tablet and TV is the new normal, but how this is accomplished is changing under the covers and cloud computing brings the economic model that maps better to the business of media and entertainment. You see, while broadcasting is a steady state business, the production process and eventual popularity of any particular video segment or show isn't. The workflow behind the scenes is evolving rapidly — or more appropriately devolving. 

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Three Barriers Holding Back CIOs

Today, with technology embedded in virtually every business process and market dynamics changing at a mind-boggling pace, the role of CIO is rapidly changing from a technology manager to a business executive. CIOs need to be influential business partners that are not just collaborating with the business but co-creating solutions for the organization. But many CIOs are struggling to get there. In a recent Forrester survey, 54% of business decision-makers said that IT does not understand the business issues and priorities to tackle them. Business decision-makers also recognize the importance of technology to their business models: 75% said technology is too important to them not to get involved in. So the message is clear: if the CIOs don’t step up, businesses will find ways to source technology through other means — and many already have. 

Forrester has identified three key barriers to CIO success:

  • Brittle processes and legacy systems. Brittle processes are created when you have technologists thinking in binary terms while developing business solutions. Compounding the problem is the fact that these processes are embedded (in many cases hard coded) into legacy systems.
  • Victim mentality. This is probably the most common one on both sides of the aisle. Business folks often love bashing IT on their speed and responsiveness, while IT often feels they are asked to do the impossible. Many CIOs feel that they could be real business partners only if the business considered them an equal and gave them an opportunity to be so.
  • Bulletproof solutions. Often the need for agility and speed outweigh performance requirements, yet IT processes are not built to be agile. Anything coming out of the IT shop has to be bulletproof, scalable, integrated and highly redundant.
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Consumerization And The Nagging IT Expectations Gap



Occasionally, I take a look back at my research and see what we got right, and what we got wrong. In 2008, we wrote "Embrace The Risks And Rewards Of Technology Populism" to describe what we saw as the inevitable acceleration of technology change at the edges of organizations. Think mobile, social, and cloud technologies, and the influence they were having on corporate IT. We of course got the name wrong: Technology Populism never really stuck. But four years later, the phenomenon itself is all around us, wrapped up in the more accepted term "Consumerization of IT" (and corporations' defensive response, "Bring-your-own IT"). Every day, we're reminded of the incredible growth of social networks that now influence all aspects of society from traditional media, corporate brands, and even the direction of politics and governments. Every day, we see people around us glued to personal mobile devices -- texting with friends and colleagues, reading news, and checking in on Facebook. And sadly, every day, people walk into their employers and sense the technology they use at work looks older, and runs slower than what they have at home. In fact, it's become hard to remember a world when this wasn’t the case.

But besides the name, we also got other things wrong:

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eGovernment Transforms From Electronic To Engaged

Engaging citizens in government isn’t a new concept. Referenda, ballot initiatives, and recall of elected leaders are common in the US and other democracies. Even the EU has recently sought to involve citizens through its European Citizens’ Initiative. This new program, however, has started in an era where new modes of constituent engagement are easier and cheaper. Obtaining the signatures required to place an initiative on a ballot or bring an issue to government leaders’ attention no longer requires endless hours in front of a shopping mall. New social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, or even more local sites like Everyblock in the US or in Europe make it easier to reach out to citizens and for citizens to reach out to their governments.

And, the pattern extends across types of government and geographies. Political activists in Nigeria are using social media to drive election reforms. Political unrest and even revolution throughout the Middle East garner support via social media sites. Recently, citizens in China used social media to block destruction of trees in Nanjing.   

New tools specifically tailored to citizen engagement — such as citizen reporting platforms, open data infrastructure, and competition platforms — even further transform governance. These tools provide citizens with not only a voice but also a role in the governance process.

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US Tech Market Outlook Improves For 2012 And 2013

The US economy continues to show improvement – for example, today’s news that new jobless claims were near a four-year low. As the economy outlook has improved, so, too, have prospects for the US tech market. In our updated Forrester forecast for US tech purchases, "US Tech Market Outlook For 2012 To 2013: Improving Economic Prospects Create Upside Potential," we now project growth of 7.5% in 2012 and 8.3% in 2013 for business and government purchases of information technology goods and services (without telecom services). Including telecom services, business and government spending on information and communications technology (ICT) will increase by 7.1% in 2012 and 7.4% in 2013. 

The lead tech growth category will shift from computer equipment in 2011 to software in 2012 and 2013, with and IT consulting and systems integration services playing a strong supporting role. Following strong growth of 9.6% in 2011, computer equipment purchases will slow to 4.5% in 2012, as the lingering effects of Thailand's 2011 floods hurt parts supply in the first half and the prospect of Windows 8 dampens Wintel PC sales until the fall. Apple Macs and iPad tablets will post strong growth in the corporate market, though, and server and storage should grow in the mid-single digits. 

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How Many iPhones Does It Take To Circle The Earth?

So asked my 11-year-old daughter this morning. You may remember Sophie. She’s the one whose 3rd-grade teacher took her to the Apple store in Burlington, MA, for a field trip. They actually learned how to make movies and stuff, so I guess it wasn’t all for fun.

To answer the question in the title, iPhones are 4 1/2 inches long and the equator is 24,901.5 miles long. So that means it will take 350,613,120 iPhones laid end to end to circle the earth. Apple’s sold 183 million iPhones so far, so they have a ways to go. Can they get there? Read on.

Sophie’s world view is surrounded by, informed by, inundated by Apple’s presence. So she thinks about crazy stuff like iPhones lined up around the world. It was a funny image – iPhones marching down Route 2 to Boston Harbor and out across the Atlantic. Funny, but poignant, too. Poignant because Sophie’s digital world is so dramatically different from my own. [Stay with me. This is going somewhere. I promise.]

I remember buying my first PC – an IBM PC XT with a 5 megabyte hard drive – to manage my band’s mailing list. It cost $4,800 -- more than my car. I wrote the contact management and label printer software myself. Bart the drummer called me geek. But he liked it well enough when we no longer had to use a typewriter and White-Out to manage thousands of mailing labels.

So I remember a world without computers. But Sophie doesn't. Her world began with a computer in her pocket that she can use for just about everything in her 11-year-old life. (Or will do when she finally gets one.) And her expectations are miles higher than mine. She expects an amazing experience. She expects to be served on a whim, wherever she is.

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Don’t Miss The Transformation Boat When Modernizing IT

I recently got a briefing from HCL about its Business Process Management practice, and we are hosting a joint webinar on April 4th.  The briefing was impressive in that HCL is focused on large scale business transformation projects — what we call Big Process. When we got to the following slide, the wheels in my head started turning.



This graphic depicts how IT is modernizing IT infrastructure to include BPM, enterprise content management (ECM) collaboration, and social to expand the IT architecture beyond enterprise suites — like ERP and CRM — which are systems of record rather than systems of engagement. This IT legacy renewal is powerful, and, by focusing on technologies that support systems of engagement, it will position the business to support customers in new and exciting ways and to be more creative and collaborative throughout the organization. In fact, I recently talked with an executive from Pegasystems about the same thing, and he said virtually all of its customers are focused on modernization.

During our discussion, I asked HCL if IT modernization works, and they said yes, it works especially well when there is a corresponding top-down business transformation exercise providing the context and justification for bottom-up IT modernization. In the rest of the cases, where it’s more from the bottom up than the top down, IT modernization stutters along due to lack of business case and funding. 

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Delivering The Social Business Imperative

Forrester fields hundreds of client inquiries each year on the topic of social business and collaboration. And the trend doesn't appear to be slowing. Often the first question is, "How far behind are we?" Well here's the data. You judge for yourself. According to Forrester survey data from 1,332 executives and IT decision-makers:

  • 49% will have investments in social networking solutions in 2012.
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Turning Good Ideas Into Real Innovation: The Forrester Innovation Heat Index

In addition to the work I've been doing on enterprise mobile strategy with Ted Schadler, I'm also working with Bobby Cameron and Chip Gliedman on innovation.

The pressure to innovate has never been greater for every company. After speaking to many CIOs and business leaders about innovation, a couple of issues rose to the surface: ideas are being drawn from so many sources now -- employees, partners, customers, and other stakeholders -- that the decision about what to invest in is getting harder. At the same time, the process for sorting through, evaluating and incubating is cumbersome. In my almost-finished report, I decided to take a crack at developing a simple methodology and evaluation tool that helps spot good ideas in the pile quickly and fast-track them into an incubation stage.

Innovation is a discipline with established best practices, needed skill sets, and time-tested processes and tools. But even the process of innovating is being disrupted by social media, collaborative tools, and customer empowerment. A good innovation program empowers your people, engages partners and customers, revives morale during challenging times, and provides an extra shot of competitive energy when you need it. Engaging in a genuine and meaningful dialog with customers, partners and employees around innovation is admirable and has proven to be a great source of new ideas for many companies. However with so many ideas being generated, time and energy gets wasted on ideas that won't go anywhere, vague criteria designed to cast the widest net don't provide any kind of focus, and opaque evaluation processes leave people guessing about the status of their idea.

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