Is Social BPM A Methodology, A Technology, Or Just A Lot Of Hype?

Clay Richardson

Over the past three months, I've been heads down working on our upcoming "Forrester Wave™ For Human-Centric BPM Suites, Q3 2010" report.  I've also been on the road over the past five weeks attending and presenting at different BPM vendor conferences - gotta love Vegas!  I must admit I have barely had time to keep tabs on my different BPM tribes - blog sites, Twitter conversations, and LinkedIn discussions.  I've been checking in here and there around different camp fires and adding a little spark occasionally when something interesting caught my eye.  

But today, I ran across a simmering debate around social BPM on different blog sites, here and here.  Seems like this is fast becoming the hottest topic in BPM.  Guess I shouldn't be surprised since I helped drive the conversation around social BPM over the last year.  It's very good to see the conversation evolve and also good to see different perspectives on how social can help improve all aspects of BPM initiatives.

Earlier this month I delivered a presentation on social BPM at IBM's Impact 2010 event. This presentation provided the most up to date perspective on how we see customers using and applying social techniques and methodologies to BPM initiatives. During the session, we framed social BPM in the following way:

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Architects: Join Our Data Management Tweet Jam May 13 2-3pm ET And Tweet About Your BI Issues

Gene Leganza

When preparing for our upcoming Forrester Data Management Tweet Jam (May 13th, 2-3pm ET) -“What BI is Not!”- several analysts got together to discuss some of today’s key BI questions.

The question on the table was, “How will social media impact traditional BI?”

Here’s a snapshot of what we talked about:

Jim Kobielus: (Twitter: @jameskobielus)

Social media will spur dramatic evolutionary shifts in traditional BI architectures in several ways. For starters, vendors will bring the Wikipedia and Facebook models into the heart of their user experience, converging traditional BI with social networking, knowledge management, and collaboration architectures. Under this new “social BI” paradigm, vendors will provide information workers with tools for collecting vast pools of user-generated, subject-oriented, multimedia content, thereby supplementing and extending traditional data marts. By encouraging user-centric development of multimedia content stores, social media will accelerate the evolution of enterprise data warehouses into comprehensive “content warehouses.” By enabling applications to monitor and mine growing streams of social media content, the new generation of social BI platforms will accelerate the convergence of data mining, content analytics, and complex event processing. And this new BI platform paradigm will enable powerful social network analysis, sifting through continuing streams of transaction, behavioral, and sentiment data to identify influencers, net promoters, brand ambassadors, and other key relationships in online communities of all shapes and sizes.

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BPM Takes Center Stage At IBM Impact

Derek Miers

Returning home after IBM’s Impact user conference (Impact 2010). I’ve been to a lot of BPM conferences in my time, but never one this big. 6,000 miles (to Las Vegas) there and 6,000 miles home again to see 6,000 people going through a few of days of indoctrination and engage in a few meetings with important execs. From the point of view of a busy analyst, one has to wonder whether it was all worth it. But putting aside the sore back/neck and the lack of sleep, I think that, on reflection, it was worth the trip. I am sure other pundits will have already posted their own interpretations of the conference, so this is just one report to add to your perspective of Impact 2010.

The Message

6,000 people all gathered to hear the carefully scripted message. Well that is what it seemed like; a scripted story that was supposed to sound spontaneous. Even the Q&A was scripted on the teleprompter, which, quite apart from the wooden presentation style of one or two of the speakers, sort of took away from the central message.

There was a pretty important message there. A message that was being communicated to the faithful. And whether you like it or not, IBM has a lot, and I mean a lot, of faithful followers. I didn’t do a scientific assessment of the number of IBM badges versus non IBM badges, but even if half of the attendees were internal, there were plenty of customers there too. And those internal folks were also being recruited as emissaries and evangelists for the new mantra.

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Business Process -- What v. How v. Why

Derek Miers

At the upcoming IT Forum in Las Vegas (May 26-28), I will be collaborating with Bill Band on a piece around using the customer experience to drive breakthrough process improvement, and with it, business performance. When you think about it, satisfying the needs of customers is what all business is about (OK you could argue that governmental organizations don’t have customers, they deal with the needs of citizens, but you get my drift).  

In the first part of our presentation we will present research to support the view that improving the outcomes delivered to customers adds dollars to the bottom line of the business. Then I will switch to a theme dear to my heart -- that Business Process is at the heart of all significant Customer Experience efforts. And that comes down to:

  • How We Do What We Do -- Of course, the relationship between the Customer Experience, and how you do things, is pretty clear. I put this in the category of “Doing Things Right” -- i.e., the way in which the processes of the firm work and the employee behaviors.
  • What We Do -- But in order to deliver compelling customer outcomes, it’s also a question of “Doing The Right Things.” Which is about the business offering -- the services of the organization and the components that make it up. The business capabilities are, of course, a better way of thinking about this rather than the org chart (which is what so many folks seem to do ... decomposition of the org chart as a way of understanding processes).
  • Why We Do It -- And then it comes back to why we do this, and how it implements organizational strategy and the impact/benefit to the overall brand.
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It's That Time Of The Year

Gene Leganza

Ask people what makes May a noteworthy month, and many folks in the northern hemisphere will wax rhapsodic about its being the peak of springtime. Others might mention Mothers' day.  Ask Forrester's IT analysts and they're pretty sure to immediately blurt out "IT Forum!" IT Forum -- the conference formerly known as GigaWorld -- is our biggest IT conference as it brings together all our IT analysts and about a zillion of our customers in all the IT-based roles for whom we do research. Each major IT role gets a separate track of research -- that's 10 tracks this year. It's essentially a week of non-stop analyst-attendee interaction in various forms. It's intense for both analysts and attendees and easily the most stimulating week on my calendar. At least, on my business calendar (wouldn't want you to think I don't have a life!).

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A Different Kind Of Complexity Holds Business-IT Alignment Hostage

Alex Cullen

Business-IT alignment is one of those persistent "Top 3" CIO issues. It has been this way just about as long as I’ve been in IT. You would think this would have been solved by now. After all, you put in business-driven IT governance, relationship managers, and some really nice dashboard, and you’ve covered about 90% of the advice out there. I’m going to suggest that business-IT alignment is being held hostage by complexity. Not technology complexity, since business leaders seem to be coming to terms with that. And not the mind-numbing spaghetti charts that show how complex our application and infrastructure landscapes are. They don’t understand these charts, but since we don’t understand them either, we can hardly expect business execs to. The complexity I’m referring to lies between their goals and the "stuff" IT delivers. They don’t see the connection. And since we see business execs having lots of goals, which shift over time, and strategies that also shift, we can’t show the connection. Instead, we say, "This is what you asked for, and this is what we delivered."

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Philly Is Underated - The AIIM Show May Be As Well

Craig Le Clair

I'll admit to spending only 3 hours on the show floor.  Most was spent in the cavernous and gloomy AIIM sessions area where I gave an "Analyst Take" session on SharePoint 2010, a talk on Dynamic Case Management, and reviewed suppliers for Document output for Customer Communications. My impression  of the floor activity was an improvement over the last two years. Perhaps contraction of sponsorships had hit the right balance with demand, or perhaps the great spring weather and improving economy were at work, but the mood was upbeat and the crowds were steady. Vendors were grumbling less.  Cloud talk and SaaS were under-represented. E-discovery and records management were in line. And the usual interesting collection of arcane conversion, migration, capture, and other providers - usually in the lower rent districts - continued the tradition. SharePoint was again pervasive. Those that say "that ship has come in" may not be aware of other ports and forms of transportation. One wonders what the future of the show is if the SharePoint sessions are the biggest draw and Microsoft and key partners have the biggest booths.  Philly is a city that has lost its major corporate headquarters and no longer has growth industries - but it does not deserve its reputation.  The AIIM show - with roots in microfilm and paper - is similar - and likewise - is still pretty good.   

Where's The Line Between Architecting And Engineering?

Gene Leganza

A basic question we're frequently asked is: What is the difference between architecting and designing or, alternately, between architecture and engineering? Most people who ask this question have conflict in their organizations regarding which IT role does what, and it often comes down to which project artifact is whose responsibility.

For most organizations, the ambiguity between the responsibilities of the project-related architect (which Forrester refers to as a “solution architect” -- see Leverage Solution Architects To Drive EA Results) and a senior engineer is largely an academic issue. For most organizations what matters most is identifying and sourcing the individuals with the appropriate knowledge and skills and making them available to mission-critical projects. The availability of senior technicians on the projects is what often determines the level of detail in the design supplied by the solution architect.

The exceptions to the “most organizations” mentioned in above are the large-to-very-large engineering shops, such as the largestUS federal government civilian and DoD agencies, and large private sector organizations that do major engineering projects such as Boeing. Organizations that have over 1000 individuals in the development environment and launch multi-year $100M+ IT projects have closely defined project roles and do what is necessary -- including extensive external contracting -- to source the appropriately skilled individuals. In these environments the “it depends” argument is not sufficient and a clean delineation of role tasks and deliverables becomes necessary.

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BPM & SharePoint - Finding The Sweet Spot

Derek Miers

Finally got my first doc through publishing here - SharePoint And BPM — Finding The Sweet Spot

It was quite a challenge to nail down all the detailed points ... and of course, the publishing process took a little getting used to. To be honest, I had most of it finalized over a month ago. 

The next doc is just about to go into the editing queue - that will focus on the rationale behind the Pega acquisition of Chordiant, highlighting a major shift we see in the way that Enterprise Apps are developed. 

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EMR - Not "Meaningful" enough

Craig Le Clair

We all know our current paper-based health information process wastes hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Transforming this into a streamlined 21st century electronic system will require moving though stages of maturity from paper charts to the cross provider electronic health record (EHR). And yes, Forrester will be publishing it's maturity model soon which hopefully will be more understandable then the health care bill. Our basic conclusion is that a narrow focus on electronic medical records packaged apps. or paper replacement technologies will fall short of stated goals. Meaningful use - as in qualifying for governement bonuses - will require a process –centric  view  and a portfolio of  technologies including enterprise content management (ECM), business process management (BPM), analytics and Forms Automation.  Our three phase maturity model will show how these foundation technologies help move through the phases most providers will transit  to get to  the 21st century health care system we all need. Stay tuned.