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As this is the first cloud question to come up on this BPM Forum, I thought to ask: How important is the cloud to BPM?
Thursday, May 15 2014, 09:39 AM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 15 2014, 10:26 AM - #Permalink
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    Cloud is absolutely fundamental to the future of BPM and Case Management as the delivery mechanism for on demand process applications.
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    Thursday, May 15 2014, 11:06 AM - #Permalink
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    Surprisingly, not as important as it should be. If we compare the BPM Software to CRM Software or even to ERP Software, then cloud uptake has been very slow. Most of the BPMS Vendors I know are now growing faster in the cloud than in on premise, but there are a still a lot of projects out there that involve legacy systems where the client simply insists that the BPMS be on premise. Oh, and when you look at BPMS applications in the Fortune 100, most customers still want an on premise solution.
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    Thursday, May 15 2014, 11:06 AM - #Permalink
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    Despite knowing that a lot of people are looking for this relationship (recently, some students have asked me collaboration in their MBA and PhD theses on this topic), with regards to BPM as a management discipline, I see no direct relationship between BPM and Cloud. On the other side, in technology perspective, the use of BPM software in cloud doesn't mean necessarily better success for business. Where the relationship exists and it's clear, is when from the analysis of process improvements at BPM level, it results that the use of software as a consumable resource by processes, provides greater efficiency to the business, if available through a cloud.
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    • Sharif Aboulnaga
      more than a month ago
      I agree with your opinion. There is no direct relationship between BPM and Cloud. The cloud can be utilized as a way to enhance or enable a process depending on the need of that process.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
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    Thursday, May 15 2014, 11:18 AM - #Permalink
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    The cloud is critically important, but tactically not strategically. Weird but true. As every BPM should start with some collaborative discovery of the processes, then a multi-user process capture tool should be used. ie not a bunch of standalone files on a googledrive. Business users don't want to wait for their IT Department to get approval and install an application. Instead, with a credit card, they can start using a web-based (ie cloud) application right. So they can get going, often under the radar of IT. Something I have called the "Stealth Cloud". When you need to deploy those processes (diagrams and/or automation) then you have a business case for implementing your chosen application either on-premise or in the cloud. But there is time to build the case. They the on-premise/cloud discussion is on of corporate IT strategy, not expediency.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 15 2014, 12:15 PM - #Permalink
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    Not a "fundamental" but frankly if the supporting software can't deliver via a "cloud" it will will not have a long term future. There has been too much hype about "the cloud" as though it was the "answer" but let's get real "cloud" is an infrastructure delivery AND payment method. This forum has clarified the way forward on the required BPM functionality with "end to end" "outside in" and removal of technology “splits” all should be high up agenda of buyers of “BPMSolutions”. In terms of “hosting” then the cloud has a place indeed should be an option of offer. However it is important to recognise there are two basic aspects to use of cloud the salient or operational critical and non salient such as data storage support. The latter may include back up storage of data, commodity processing such as payroll. e-mail storage etc. The salient will be where BPMSolutions will sit with such as “digital” in Case Management CRM SCM HRM etc. Nothing wrong with being cloud based BUT and this very important there must be a capability to allow the buyer to not just get back his data but also be able to secure the supporting software running salient process to be “hosted” as the customer may choose in the future, which might include an “in-house cloud”. Yes this recognises that cloud becomes the new “lease” method of payment just like any other asset. If this is not on offer for “BPMSalientSolutions the risks to the business will be too high on both total cost and the inevitable inflexibility. Vendors need to be able to offer this alternative as the customer will not be happy to be “locked in” to what could be very expensive contracts; CFOs will not be happy……..? As a vendor contracts can be structured to allow financing recognising the quality of future guaranteed revenue again just like any other product “leasing” financing arrangements. Such a “BPMS” proposition ensures the customer in total control of his business and “cloud” becomes an asset leasing option? In this context yes cloud in an important option for BPMSolutions but recognise what it really is?
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 15 2014, 01:01 PM - #Permalink
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    BPM is about getting the right level of grip on your processes, so that they do what you promise to your stakeholders. 'Right level of grip' means designing and implementing the right characteristics of a process. These are aspects like: - The workflow (straight through, employee driven) - The right people - Good information supply - Supporting tools (in administrative processes that might be software) - Right level of management (dictator style, coaching style) - Suitable level of flexibility - Suitable level of adaptability And when you look at the above enablers, then indeed software and information (or data) can be run or stored in the cloud (you know, that is a hard disk only two blocks away?). So is it important? Probably it makes it easier to share and work place and time independent. But in the end processes are executed in real life, not in the cloud.
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    • George Chast
      more than a month ago
      Good reminder. The methodology of BPR in its time focused on Org structure, Personnel, Business Policies and Procedures, then Systems. I often mention the two positive differences being a continuous approach rather than one-shot and now the BPM middleware is flexible enough, but I forget those other items. Lots of folks are using cloud-based discovery tools to improve processes that do [i]not[i] touch technology.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 15 2014, 02:34 PM - #Permalink
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    I believe that BPM and cloud computing are two the most synergetic components of the enterprise computing. BPM, by revealing the artefacts and the relationships between them, provides the necessary context (e.g. granularity, SLA and other performance parameters) for the definition of services. Thus, an enterprise can make an informed decision which service may “go” to what cloud (http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2011/12/enterprise-pattern-cloud-ready.html). Also, BPM provides a mechanism for the explicit and executable assembling of bigger services from smaller ones (which can be spread over various clouds). Cloud, from its side, provide rich deployment options for services which constitute process-centric solutions. As traditional Enterprise Architecture (EA) understands and masters this synergy, EA becomes a really useful enterprise tool. Thanks, AS
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    • George Chast
      more than a month ago
      I think your point becomes even more relevant as we look forward to an API economy and folks struggle to be Omni-Channel in the Cloud...
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 15 2014, 02:53 PM - #Permalink
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    As I mentioned recently, one of the fundamental strengths of BPM is the ability to deploy it tactically in order to rapidly address pressing business needs. Nothing says "rapid" or "tactical" like the cloud. Provision in hours, deploy a solution in days. Cloud and BPM: two great tastes that taste great together.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, May 16 2014, 12:23 AM - #Permalink
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    The Cloud is simply a finance option. If you want to buy compute power as capital equipment, you do so. Otherwise, you use the cloud and lease the equipment. That is all the cloud is .... a choice of how you want to finance your infrastructure. BPM is a practice of improving business, is more or less orthogonal to the cloud. In some businesses, using the Cloud will make a lot of sense. On others, it will not. I think we will find in the long term that most companies will find that leasing equipment as they need it will make a lot more sense. About 8 years ago, I moved all my personal servers to the cloud. I used to run servers at home. But when I found that I could lease a server that was sufficient for my needs for about $4/month, I realized that there was no advantage in owning my own equipment for this. The big racks could provide my server for less than the price I was paying for electricity for the server. Companies will realize the same advantage of scale, and will move most of their compute infrastructure to companies that specialize in that. Is this important to BPM? No. It is completely orthogonal.
    • George Chast
      more than a month ago
      Keith, it is only a Finance consideration when you have control of the decision... Otherwise, I think you will agree that you have to include the organizational barriers to entry, too. Agree?
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, May 16 2014, 02:26 AM - #Permalink
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    I think it is important that BPM systems adapt to the new cloud environment. The cloud fundamentally shifts the landscape in which BPM systems have to operate. In the past, a typical environment was a handful of enterprise applications within the enterprise firewall and integration was mostly done over the tedious SOAP protocol. Now with the cloud, we're moving to much more small-grained services both in and outside the firewall. Open API's over REST has become the norm and that makes it much easier and faster to connect apps. This new environment changes how security is guaranteed and how governance has to be applied. BPM systems have to adapt to make full use of the new potential on the cloud and at the same time be prepared to handle the new security and governance models.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, May 16 2014, 07:21 AM - #Permalink
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    BPM is about creating powerful, efficient processes which deliver data at the point of need, gather intelligence from every interaction and facilitate people. It stands to reason that if a lot of this data is in the cloud, then that is important to BPM. But there is a bigger picture. IT used to be hard. So a whole industry grew up around making it work. Developers, trainers, business analysts, hardware engineers, architects - you name it. And to justify their job they created complexity - subtext, only we can do this. Change did the same. Very simple rules were wrapped up in acronyms (TQM), systems (Lean, Six Sigma) and Japanese words and terminologies (kaizen, muda, black belts etc.). Subtext - this is too complicated for you, only we can do this. But the web blew a hole in all of this. E-commerce websites created simple customer journeys in extremely complex markets. Travel websites deliver thousands of pictures in seconds so you can decide "I'll try that hotel, in that city, on that date". These journeys weren't only so much simpler than BPM people had achieved, but they had continuous improvement built in - simple AB testing could see which page people preferred, which wording worked better and what created cart abandonment. Now we can all go along in our BigIT way and ignore this until the companies we work for come crashing down round us, or we can embrace the concepts. BPM is about hiding horrendous complexity behind something blindingly simple and intuitive. So we need to get away from dedicated servers. Waterfall development. Big projects. BigIT in general really. BPM needs to be an app on your mobile (or your Google Glass). Connecting data sources should be a point and click. All you should see is the decision you have to take and the data which helps you take it. Does that need the cloud? I think it does.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Sunday, May 18 2014, 12:54 PM - #Permalink
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    Again, I stand to somehow disagree with so many brilliant minds in here, so I apologize in full respect. From a theoretical standpoint, BPM and Cloud are orthogonal. BPM is a business practice and Cloud is one of its (possible) deployment models. From a practical standpoint, they are as orthogonal as Media and Internet are now. Which is not at all. They also used to be perfectly orthogonal: Media was the Content, the Internet was one of its (possible) distribution models. You bought Media via the Internet because of the superior distribution. That is, until the Internet BECAME the Media. The Internet is not a distribution network anymore, because it has completely CHANGED the way we consume and get influenced by content, and has CHANGED the Media business model at the same time. We don't buy content (music, books etc) anymore because the Internet is encouraging us now to stream it, to rent it (unless you believe you own those books on your Kindle), to lease it. The Internet has the ability to morph and disrupt any intangible asset. As a result, the Internet has democratized, in turns, information, knowledge, wisdom, style, wealth. So why would BPM (a part of a business model that is concerned with optimal wealth creation) have a different fate? Cloud will completely CHANGE BPM as a business practice. Yes, there will always be on-premise deployments (for integration / security / confidentiality reasons), but what about the VAST majority of small to medium businesses that could never afford a complete tech stack (servers / middleware / software / consulting) just so they can have a best practice in procurement, for example? Nobody wants to buy the whole cow when they only want to drink a glass of milk. It is already happening, although the beginnings are shy and laughable to many experts, so for now it all depends on how generous you are with defining current software as BPM technology. In my mind, as long as you use it for business, Evernote is a BPM technology. And there are countless examples: Dropbox, Google Apps, Tasker, IFTTT, Basecamp, Smartsheet etc.
    • George Chast
      more than a month ago
      BPM is to Cloud as Media is to the Internet. Nice Analogy!
      And, to use another Metaphor, that *Wave* could be coming just as fast and hard.
      We should be open and prepared for that.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, June 12 2014, 12:36 AM - #Permalink
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    Apart from the obvious benefits of Cloud provisioning such as lower cost of ownership, BPM on Cloud provides the perfect environment to test sample processes and then scale rapidly across the organization. This delivery model has to also help with BPM adoption in those businesses that are still ambiguous about investing in BPM software. So BPM on Cloud will most likely be a de facto delivery model going forward.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Monday, June 23 2014, 08:13 AM - #Permalink
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    There are three things to consider when it comes to BPM and the cloud: Do you have data and services in the cloud that processes must work with? Do you want to execute processes in the cloud? If so, how does it include existing data and systems that aren't in the cloud? Is cloud really suitable for what you need to achieve today, tomorrow or somewhere in the future?
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