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Found this comment by Peter Whibley interesting:
People search for solutions to problems rather than platforms. Which is another reason why the process app market, underpinned by BPM and Case Management, will begin to dominate.
So how big of a role do you see process apps playing, and what will that role that be?
Emiel Kelly Accepted Answer
What's a process app? Processes are daily work, so any app that supports that work; is that a process app?

Or is it:

- a process modeling app?
- a app that supports in process mining projects?
- an app that shows the forms in a workflow system?
Common Sensei at Procesje.nl
Comment
What he said. For purposes of common definition I'm inclined to go with some vertical built on a BPM or Case Mgmt platform.
  1. Patrick Lujan
  2. 2 years ago
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Garvin Fouts Accepted Answer
Blog Writer
The focus on process apps is a response to firms not wanting to write blank checks building on a platform and providing best practice templates to start their process automation projects. Most clients want some help and direction on solutions and don't have the resources, knowledge, or patience to build from scratch but would much rather take a known solution and craft their uniqueness from the app. Building apps on BPM Platforms allows them to adjust their solutions in response to whatever resource limitations they have and continue to evolve as required. It really seems to be the best of both worlds (bespoke and application). In our market, we see this accelerating quite rapidly and even some new market entrants pushing hard with the 'application' solution. Clients are responding very positively.
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Keith Swenson Accepted Answer
I see the emergence of smart process apps as simply the result of stratification of the service oriented architecture that is a natural part of the maturation of the technology space.
Here is a new post that explains what I mean by SOA Stratification.

The reason this stratification is important is that it allows pieces to be constructed by third parties that fit together more readily. By defining the roles of Process App and Transactional App, it becomes easier to make standardized services that fit together more readily by conforming to these roles.
References
  1. http://social-biz.org/2014/02/18/smart-process-apps-result-from-soa-stratification/
Comment
Sorry, because there are vendors or teams out there that sell or build "dumb" or "stupid" process apps? Playing way too loosely with the terms "smart" and "intelligent" in this space right now. As per previous, I would submit if you're not building a "smart" process (app) out of the gate you shouldn't be in the game at all.
  1. Patrick Lujan
  2. 2 years ago
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Emiel Kelly Accepted Answer
Then I think the role of process apps will become bigger in processes. It seems we return back to the eighties then, but what I experience more and more is that no one cares about BPM, but many care about their processes.

Of course it always sounded cool; a BPM platform in which you can build your own processes...eeh I mean an application that supports your processes.

In general that sounds the most clean, but processes don't exist in general. They exist in the specific context of an organization or industry.

So, process apps that take this process context into consideration; I think companies see more value in that because it solves a problem in their processes.

And current technology helps us. Probably still platforms are the base for the process specific solutions, but companies don't have to bother.

Platforms + Process = Process Apps ? That's not the eighties; that's 2014.
Common Sensei at Procesje.nl
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Peter Whibley Accepted Answer
As I have commented elsewhere on this forum the BPM market is stagnant or at best showing single digit revenue growth. On the other hand companies providing process apps or whatever we want to call them are growing at over 40%. This shouldn’t be surprising. It’s easier to sell solutions than platforms. The leading BPM vendors today are the ones that focused at an early point on solutions. BPM isn’t immune to the consumerization of IT. Not all business processes are strategic. Small and medium size organizations don’t have the resources or the subject matter expertise to build processes from scratch.

I see this as a next generation of the BPO market. We’ll see more companies like Workday and Teamlab, companies focused on providing process solutions for specific departments within the enterprise.

You can get my white paper on this here.
References
  1. http://intelligentprocessapps.com/white-papers/
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E Scott Menter Accepted Answer
Blog Writer
The premise is upside-down, which can confuse things, unless you live in Australia, which is of course always upside-down.

The question is not the impact of applications on BPM, but rather, how BPM is going to completely transform applications. A huge swatch of packaged apps can now be replaced in whole or in part, or substantially enhanced, using BPM technology. At some point in the not-too-distant future, it will be the rare enterprise-scale packaged application that does not have full-fledged BPM at its core. BPM will be the wheel, with application-specific expertise and user interface forming the shiny spinning rims.
http://www.bplogix.com/images/icon-x-medium.png Scott
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Agreed. Your toaster connected to the Internet is a lot less interesting than your toaster, coffee maker, and thermostat engaged in a process launched by some event (like sunrise).
  1. E Scott Menter
  2. 2 years ago
In addition BPM also has a major role to play within the Internet of things market. Again in a packaged applications way.
  1. Peter Whibley
  2. 2 years ago
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Kevin Parker Accepted Answer
Blog Writer
Microsoft makes more money from Office than it does from Visual Studio. Obviously there are more users than developers. Users want any answer now but they want it cheaply. Developers want to deliver the perfect answer eventually and want the best (expensive) tools to build it.

The same is true of the BPM process-platform versus process-application debate. As the commentary above shows there are many factors to consider and deciding which are the most important will guide and direct the purchaser to the best solution for them.

Process as Application: the evolution of applications has gone from replacing one step in the process to being the whole process. Where we were once focused on the fidelity of the data entered into the online form four decades ago we are now intent on optimizing how that same data moves through our business processes.

Process as Reusable Asset: Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) have forced us to look to solving business problems by creating solutions assembled from process componentry. Looking for common elements that can be standardized and shared across the organization reduces the cost of maintaining separate systems and drives organization efficiency.

Process matters more than Platform: there are three ways to go: buy a specific process-app that closely resembles your needs (you'll need to compromise as they never match your needs exactly), buy a generic process-app that is in your domain and configure/customize/compromise as needed (often a labor of months and years to get nearly what you want), or buy a blank canvass platform and develop your perfect process-app on top (you start off primitively and get what you really needs after months and years).

Process maturity leads Organizational Maturity: no matter how much technology and automation is in place it is no substitute for good processes. As has been said here before, "a fool with a tool is still a fool." Therefore there has to be conscious action at all times towards the goal of improvement through process. The idea of continuous review and revision should not be seen as disruptive but healthy optimization.

But beware of analysis paralysis. Every day of delay increases the cost of the solution you eventually select. Remember that good-enough may be just fine.
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Don Schuerman Accepted Answer
Process Apps play a huge role in helping business leaders see and understand the power of BPM. As many have posted above: getting a business to invest in a platform is hard. From the perspective of the owners of individual business areas, the value of a platform is often only apparent in its ability to deliver solutions that matter them. Providing those solutions as "Process Apps" helps organizations see the possibility of BPM (better processes, faster times to market, happier customers, etc.) in a way that is immediately recognizable within the context of their business.

Business leaders often don't see that what they have is a "BPM" problem. They see that they have a claims problem, or a investigations problem, or a customer service problem. In order to get them to think about taking a BPM approach to the solution, you need to convince them of three things:


That you understand their business. Process Apps put the conversation in their language, so instead of talking about process instances and tasks, you can talk about claims and subrogation. Having a Process App buys credibility with the business persona and often earns us the right to have a BPM conversation.


That BPM can solve their problem. Many people still don't think of customer service as a "BPM" problem. But if you can show them Customer Service solution as a Process App, they can cross that mental barrier. Same for core portions of the business. An insurance provider may not want to trust their claims solutions to a BPM Platform, but when they see a Process App, they see that BPM can be viable...and more effective solution.


That they get the benefits of a COTS solution without the pain. Business buy point solutions because they look like a great option: take the off the shelf stuff, make a few tweaks and *presto* your app is ready go. Unfortunately, most COTS solutions aren't really built with the "few tweaks" in mind, nor do they help organizations deal with the future. Process Apps deliver flexibility and agility, while not forcing the business to give up the "starting point" that they want from a software purchase.
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I love your comment here Don. Another way to look at this is: should this be a surprise to any of us? Anyone who's familiar with Geoffrey Moore's "Crossing the Chasm" should see the intuitiveness of the shift going on here.
  1. Neil Ward-Dutton
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Max J. Pucher Accepted Answer
Blog Writer
There are some platitudes and panaceas being used here but still applied wrongly. A typical performer in BPM automation is a fool with a tool because that where the cost reduction comes from. You won't have BPM with highly intelligent performers because they won't hang around and the business won't pay for them. I won't look at the staff of my customers as fools.

Buying processes as prepackaged applications may seem a cheap way to get something working, but unless it is some very basic and highly standardized process it is an illusion. In most cases you need data and content integration work to be done making the predefined process an empty shell. The reality is different.

Best practices, standard processes, reusable processes and all of that enforced across the organization kills innovation and quality. What seems cheap because standard is a process that does not fit anyone properly. Changing a process that is used by many departments becomes nearly impossible. Processes are not an asset, people are. Invest in people and your process problems will go away. Invest in process apps and your skill and knowledge will go away. If SMBs do not have the skill then they do not have a business and SPA won't make the competitive. They might survive a little longer.

Looking at processes at applications that people use is a grave error. There is just a small percentage of fully automated straight-through processes. Yes, do it and get rid of people completely. But if you have human interaction then it should just be there because you need that knowledge between the two ears. And then a rigid process is utterly wrong.

When each department grows into its processes, it may take a few months to actually get it right, but each department will have their own special variant and there wasn't a huge amount of design work necessary.

Yes, the Smart Process App direction is a silly hype. Businesses want them because actually designing processes is a pain in the neck. It is not a grand new idea but solving the problem of the BPM software and methodology. SPA does not solve a business problem but it solves a BPM problem, just as process mining. What solves the business problem is adaptive processes that make business strategy transparent top-down and customer outcome/perception bottom-up.

So, yes SPA might play a big role in market share, but that does not mean it is actually good for the business.
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Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer
The mobile app market concept has become popular due to Apple's strategy to severely fragment the online experience in order to control and monetize the distribution and the content.

While this has led to a plethora of convenient smart process apps and solutions, they are incredibly fragmented. Even more on iOS, apps cannot talk to each other due to the rigid architecture. Android is mitigating this via the concept of intents.

This cannot be the future - hopefully someone will write one day a really good cyberpunk novel based on this dystopian line of thinking.

Processes mean collaboration. As long as apps cannot integrate well with each other (and they won't - not soon enough), the process does not exist.

If anyone has managed to really run a full business process (i.e. not self-contained businesses like blogging, writing, publishing, coding etc) by combining the likes of Dropbox, Evernote, Email, Calendar, Google Apps, Amazon e-commerce, social networking apps, internet banking - please let me know, I am eager to reset my understanding of the current app landscape.

So, no to process aps - they can only be touchpoints of a more smartly architected back-end, but by themselves they are not solutions to business processes.

That's why BPaaS is represented as a layer on top of SaaS :-)
Managing Founder, profluo.com
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Peter, I use IFTTT. Sporadically. Just because it can take a trigger from one web service and make it serve into another web service doesn't mean much. It may mean the world for someone who automates their Twitter posts, but not to a business process.

It's an interesting concept but the road stretches far out.

[I also use Tasker on Android and have it set up so it orchestrates contexts of my smartphone and have it execute a bunch of actions, system-wide or through existing apps. It has its own programming language (with commanda, variables, scenes, ability to create widgets and apps etc). It's like a middleware for my phone and it does wonders to my productivity. I consider Tasker the quintessential manifest of the Android architecture and capabilities].

But let's face it, integrated business processes mean more than just a common process model or language - they also mean a coherent data model, an organizational model, a business motivation model and a business entity orchestration logic - there's many pieces that are floating around right now.
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 2 years ago
Check out IFTTT, Zapier or Push.co
  1. Peter Whibley
  2. 2 years ago
>>Processes mean collaboration. As long as apps cannot integrate well with each other (and they won't - not soon enough), the process does not exist.
  1. Peter Whibley
  2. 2 years ago
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I see “process apps” as first steps towards the massive use of explicit and executable processes. At present, SPAs cover only small and spaced areas of a system of processes which is needed by the business to run all value streams. So, it is important to put SPAs in the enterprise context.

For example:
1) SPAs may implement some known process patterns starting as standard processes which are easily customisable by advance users.
2) SPAs is a current way to avoid reinventing of the wheel and to concentrate on the unique business challenges.
3) SPAs is a potential way to embrace the diversity (thus higher efficiency) by making localised versions of common business processes.
4) SPAs may be considered as the “tips of the iceberg” (as Bogdan said about touch points and architected back-end).

For example, I would like to have the value stream (of my current client) “Opportunity -> Quotation -> Order -> Delivery -> Monitoring -> Field Servicing” be easily implemented as a combination of global services and local processes wrapped as SPAs for various business functions and regions.

Thanks,
AS
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Phillip Rhodes Accepted Answer
I think the answer comes down to whether or not a firm seeks to utilize technology to gain a competitive advantage or not. If you believe that "whoever has the best algorithms wins" and you consider processes to be algorithms, then you have to consider that you're never going to gain any advantage by using somebody else's "off the shelf" pre-packaged process.

Process management is one area where it is very specifically the case that you want a platform to build your own custom tailored solutions on, IF you are trying to gain a measure of competitive advantage. And especially with the advent of Social BPM and Semantic BPM, the platforms are becoming even more powerful, and offer even greater opportunities for forward looking organizations to get a "leg up" on the competition if they choose to take advantage of that power and build highly optimized processes that empower staff and promote organizational learning and knowledge transfer.
References
  1. http://fogbeam.blogspot.com/2013/05/social-events-bpm-oh-my-but-what-about.html
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David Chassels Accepted Answer
Next generation "applications" can now recognise the needs of people in an adaptive manner. So information is presented or created and inputted by any authorised person, any where, any time and on any device.

Such "adaptive" applications will be a green field of ever changing needs wrapped around the brown fields of legacy and storage of historical information. It is where business is made or broken so if competition have such flexibility will be a must have?

Trick is to understanding just how it will work across the whole business and of course discount the vendor hype! It is one of the BPM Platform benefits where the financial risk is low to get started so interesting future?
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