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End of the Road

Peter Schooff and Clay Richardson from Forrester research continue their discussion. In this excerpt from the podcast, they talk about the how end-to-end process transformation is being replaced by improvements to the customer journey.

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Peter Schooff:Preparing for this, you sent me a little bit of research. One of the interesting things I thought it said, some Forrester research, one of the things said end to end business process transformation is dead. That seemed very illuminating what we're speaking about now. Why don't you go into that?

Clay Richardson: Yeah. We've been seeing this for a while. I think sometimes when I write research, I want to make sure people ... We're all on the same page. I don't want to assume that the reader or the audiences knows this. What we were saying there is this focus on large scale, twelve month, big bang transformation projects for BPM is dead. When we talk to customers, when we survey, most customers are looking for very targeted optimization of process around touch points. They're not saying, "We're going to look at our entire end to end quote-to-cash process" They're saying, "Okay there's two or three points in this process where we think we can improve the process, and that's going to have an impact on the customer experience."

Even though, in the report, we're saying end to end process transformation is dead, all true, what we're also saying is end to end customer journey improvement is what companies are using to frame process improvement. They're looking at the customer journey as that lends and then saying, "Okay. What are the two or three touch points in this journey where we can bring process in? Maybe bring in some process technology and automation to drive that improvement." It's more of an outside in take on process change.

We definitely, when we talk to customers ... I may have had one customer conversation out of hundreds over the last twelve months, where a customer was looking at end to end process transformation and using that language. The vast majority of my conversations with customers and surveys that we see is customers trying to zero in and scope specific touch points that they want to do process projects around and process improvement around.

Peter Schooff: Now I think, as you've been saying, we're at a critical inflection point. To really bring this home to the people listening, what would you say are one or two key points that you want people to take away from listening to this podcast?

Clay Richardson: I think the number one that we have to move towards digital automation. This is when we say digital automation, we have to create a definition for digital automation but the key is starting to look at how do we bring in cognitive? How do we bring in IoT and robotics connected to human collaboration? How do we get man and machine working together? I think we hear a lot of talk about robots taking human jobs. The reality is there's a whole industry coming up around this type of autonomous process, autonomous processes, where it's really about equipping humans to be smarter. Some call it augmented intelligence. I think that's a very fascinating area in place for process to evolve to is trying to bring these different pieces together. I think that's one.

I think the second piece that I think is critical for BPM teams, process teams, to embrace is new methodologies. We focused in the past on Lean Six Sigma. Some teams, they're starting to shift. We've talked about this in the past but it's critical now, more critical now that you pick up design thinking. Learn customer journey mapping, learn persona mapping. I think those are the skills of the future for process improvement in this digital automation path that we're headed down. I think another piece of research I'm just kicking off, that I'm very passionate about, is around what are the new digital skills? How do you get them? Who are the companies that provide training and enablement around these new skills?

There are only a handful of companies out there that do this now. You have a lot of the traditional training companies that are out there, like Skillsoft or ExecuTrain, they do very transactional training. Not to knock them at all. When we start talking about digital skills, it's not about transactional. It's about experiential, it's about actually learning by doing. When we start looking at customer journey mapping or digital experimentation, digital design, yeah you can go online.

Maybe get a couple of courses, you can do self-paced learning but, at the end of the day, it's about the experience and actually learning by doing. Actually having projects that you're working on from the outset and being okay with evolving the way that you think and learn. To me, that model of learning and this focus on digital is very new. I think that's going to be critical. I think for BPM teams that want to step up their game and make the shift, they're going to need to go back and learn how to learn in a way, but also learn some of these newer design skills that are critical.

Peter Schooff
Author: Peter SchooffWebsite: bpm.com
Managing Editor
Peter Schooff is Managing Editor at BPM.com, where he oversees the BPM.com Forum as well as other content and social media initiatives. Peter has over 15 years experience in various enterprise IT fields, including serving as Director of Marketing for email security company Message Partners. Most recently he served as Managing Editor for ebizQ, for which he created and ran the ebizQ forum. Peter is known world-wide for his views and contributions to BPM, and was named among the Top 12 Influencers of Case Management through independent market research.

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