And I must say I am particularly keen to get into the thick of it this year. We’ve got some really interesting ones coming up; in relatively quick order, I have three different IQPC events (reflecting our growing partnership with IQPC):
Business Process Excellence in Financial Services Exchange in London on September 19 and 20. Here I will be delivering an opening keynote and chairing a panel between BPM heavyweights IBM (Phil Gilbert), EMC (Chris Preston), and Pega (Russell Keziere). That should be really interesting — we’ll have the heads of all things process-related from most of the big banks in Europe in the room. Looking through the delegate list, I can’t wait to meet them all — so much to learn from their experience and insights. Of course, I’ve got my own views, but nothing like testing them with those on the coal face of change.
Then in October I am chairing, keynoting, and running an active research session at the BPM Leaders Meeting in Amsterdam (October 20-21). Again, a really interesting lineup of speakers — a truly pan-European bunch, where we will focus on four major themes over the two days, culminating in a workshop format at the end where all the themed sessions/discussions feed into our active research session. My objective is to create a series of documents/blog posts/discussions that derive from the insights we’ll collectively build at the event.
“Mobile CRM” is a hot topic with my clients. The emergence of ubiquitous high-speed broadband connectivity, smartphones, and tablet devices with enormous computing power and longer battery life, along with increased employee adoption of touchscreen devices in every sphere of life, are all trends that serve to liberate IT from the desktop.
However, the state of mobile CRM solution support is fragmented. While there are platforms and solutions that cater to specific industries, no mobile CRM vendor currently offers out-of-the-box cross-industry functionality. The gap between the functionality available via desktop and mobile CRM applications is far from being bridged. And vendors sometimes adopt a single-device or single operating system (OS) strategy, limiting the range of devices and OSes available to companies.
To help define a path for navigating this complex landscape, I interviewed 25 CRM solution vendors, systems integrators, mobile solutions developers, and user compananies. My findings are summarized in a new report: Best Practices: The Right Way to Implement Mobile CRM.
A guiding principle for getting value out of “mobile” is to look for situations where you can integrate an mobile application into the normal execution of the day-to-day business processes of managers and frontline workers. Here are some additional tips:
Understand the opportunity to improve CRM and drive adoption. For example, will enabling workers to update the CRM system and tasks in real time throughout the day when they’re in the field — rather than doing it once they get back to their desks at the end of the day — make them more productive?
In the midst of all the buzz in the CRM space about “social” and “mobile” CRM spotlighted in my recent reports, I am observing another important trend. There is a convergence of customer relationship management (CRM) and business process management suite (BPMS) solutions to support better customer experiences and deeper customer engagement.
Our research shows that only 10% of companies deliver outstanding customer experiences. The laggards have a choice: They can either continue to whistle while passing the graveyard, or make a bold, sweeping stroke by focusing on deeper engagement with their customers. How? By taking a hard look at business processes that traverse organizational silos, bringing the back office closer to the front office while transforming strategic cross-functional processes.
Customer service managers in particular struggle to balance customer experience and cost: siloed communication channels, impersonal service, and an inability to enforce company processes or meet regulatory compliance negatively affect satisfaction and increase costs.
To resolve this dilemma, there is continued interest in traditional “record-centric” CRM solutions, but I also see more adoption of “process-centric” BPMS solutions. In fact, the characteristics of these two are converging in the latest releases from the respective vendors.
I've always heard great buzz about Austin's South By Southwest Conference (often simply referred to as SXSW). The conference brings together indie film, music, and tech to discuss and collaborate on building the future. The tech side of the conference — SXSW Interactive — is often where up-and-coming tech ventures break major news. In short, SXSW Interactive often serves as a petri dish for testing out new ideas and innovations.
Last week I attended SXSW to zoom in on emerging trends in social and consumer tech that would likely spill over into the business process — and social BPM — world over the next several years. Of the 15-20 keynotes and sessions I attended, three or four really resonated with the overall direction we see for social BPM and social business:
Ironically, while the CRM pundit hysteria about “social CRM” seems to be abating a little bit, many concrete use-cases are emerging that demonstrate the business value of the social web phenomenon. I just published a new report that defines the key characteristics of social CRM and provides examples of how Social Computing technologies expand the possibilities for delivering customer and company value through the key business processes of targeting, acquisition, retention, understanding, and collaboration. Forrester's annual Groundswell Awards provide over 130 examples of how organizations use Social Computing to engage and collaborate with customers in new ways.
Here are some highlights:
Customer targeting. Social media channels such as Twitter and YouTube and communities such as Facebook and Groupon offer new ways to communicate with customers through an Internet community context. And we now see the rising use of community-based market research techniques. For example, Godiva Chocolatier created a private, invitation-only community so Godiva could better understand its chocolate consumers. The community led Godiva to create an affordable product line, individually wrapped chocolates called Gems, and sell them in a new channel — grocery and drug stores. Gems was the biggest global launch ever for Godiva, ringing up $35 million in its first year.
For most of the past year or so, I have been working on a set of research docs in parallel to my inquiry and consulting work at Forrester. And the results are finally becoming available on the Forrester RoleView platform. With seven docs out in the past few weeks, this set should provide a comprehensive guide to Forrester clients setting up and running BPM programs.
As 2010 draws to a close, what are the key trends that customer management process professionals need to pay attention to as you finalize plans for next year?
Here are the top trends that I am tracking. My full report that spotlights our latest research will be published in January.
Trend 1: The Revenue Impact Of Poor Customer Experience Is Recognized
Our models estimate that the revenue impact from a 10 percentage point improvement in a company's performance, as measured by Forrester’s Customer Experience Index Score (CxPi), could be in excess of a billion dollars. Poor performers are particularly weak in being able to orchestrate multichannel interactions.
Trend 2: Business Process Management Extends To The Front Office
By extending business process management (BPM) to the front office functions, customer service organizations will improve the consistency of service delivered, elevate agent efficiency, personalize service, and meet compliance goals — at a cost that makes sense to the business.
Trend 3: The Business Value Of Social Customer Engagement Becomes More Evident
Winners of Forrester’s annual Groundswell Award spotlight how organizations are using Social Computing to innovate, such as: community-based marketing research techniques; engaging with customers through social media; energizing brand advocates; empowering communities to support customer self-service; and collaborating with customers during the product ideation and development process.
In the early part of next quarter, I am entering a research phase on a topic I have alluded to many times: techniques for Process Architecture.
One of the key problems that BPM initiatives suffer from is that, even with all the attention, we end up with processes that still have significant issues — they are too inflexible and difficult to change. They become just another version of concrete poured in and around how people work — focusing on control rather than enabling and empowering.
A phrase that I picked up (from a business architect) put it fairly succinctly:
“People tend to work hard to improve what they have, rather than what they need.”
This was then further reinforced by a process architect in government sector on an email:
“The wall I keep hitting is how to think about breaking processes into bite-size chunks that can be automated.”
The problem is that we don’t have good techniques to design (derive) the right operational process architecture from the desired business vision (business capability). Of course, there is an assumption here that there is an effective business vision, but that’s a subject for another line of research.
I am talking about the operational chunks — the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle required to deliver a given outcome. Not how the puzzle pieces are modeled (BPMN, EPC, IDEF, or any other modeling technique), but how to chop up the scope of a business capability to end up with the right operational parts.
As some of you know, I am hopelessly addicted to golf. I can already hear you asking, “What does golf have to do with marathons, and what do marathons have to do with business processes?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Before becoming a golf addict, I was a runner – running 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons. My goal was to work my way up to a marathon. This is still my goal, but I learned a while ago that you can’t be a serious golfer and also be a serious runner – they both compete for long stretches of time on Saturday mornings (although I did have someone recommend that I combine the two into "marathon golf").
When I was a runner, I quickly learned that how you run a 5K or 10K is different from how you run a half-marathon. It seems obvious now, but when I trained for my first half marathon I didn’t realize how critical it was to hydrate all the way through and to also change your breathing technique. Ultimately, I found a training program that helped me get ready for my first race, and I ended up crossing the finish line in pretty good time and without killing myself.
We are sometimes so focused on details that we forget to think clearly. Nothing new there; it’s still a story about trees and forest. A few years ago, this was clearly the case when I met with one of the first vendors of run book automation. My first thought was that it was very similar to workload automation, but I let myself be convinced that it was so different that it was obviously another product family. Taking a step back last year, I started thinking that in fact these two forms of automation complemented each other. In “Market Overview: Workload Automation, Q3 2009,” I wrote that “executing complex asynchronous applications requires server capacity. The availability of virtualization and server provisioning, one of the key features of today’s IT process [run book] automation, can join forces with workload automation to deliver a seamless execution of tasks, without taxing IT administrators with complex modifications of pre-established plans.”In June of this year, UC4 announced a new feature of its workload automation solution, by which virtual machines or extension to virtual machines can be provisioned automatically when the scheduler detects a performance issue (see my June 30 blog post “Just-In-Time Capacity”). This was a first sign of convergence. But there is more.
Automation is about processes. As soon as we can describe a process using a workflow diagram and a description of the operation to be performed by each step of the diagram, we can implement the software to automate it (as we do in any application or other forms of software development). Automation is but a variation of software that uses pre-developed operations adapted to specific process implementations.