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Gartner recently came out with the top tech trends for 2015 and number one is: Computing Everywhere. So how will the proliferation of mobile devices and computing everywhere impact BPM and business processes.
Thursday, October 16 2014, 09:52 AM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 16 2014, 10:06 AM - #Permalink
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    In the context of both BPM as a technology and BPM as a discipline I would say that it already has had an impact. Certainly, BPM tech vendors that don't have an useful and usable mobile client are now pretty disadvantaged in the marketplace. I tend to view "mobile" enablement as something of a given now both in the context of the tech and how we thing about BPM as a methodology. I've come to the point now where I'm having conversations with vendors about moving beyond "mobile first" to "api first" - Preparing their platforms for the internet of things and "non traditional" end-points.
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    Thursday, October 16 2014, 10:07 AM - #Permalink
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    Absolutely. We have seen it the last few years with the proliferation of mobile devices. Organizations have had to grapple with how to push out processes to customers and work thru process change. Customers won't stand for not having the ability to interact with organizations via mobile. Though core processes may not change in the short term, the layer of presentation or process layer on top of the core is changing. The real focus moving forward is getting organizations to reflect on the customer interaction and engagement paradigm. Organizations have to flip to outside-in to really understand how to shape the business processes and to develop stronger customer centric interation and engagement models.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 16 2014, 10:20 AM - #Permalink
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    The impact is real. At this point, it's par for the course--few BPM projects we work on don't have a mobile aspect. I'd be surprised if it weren't. Consumers expect it. Like it or not, employees do their work whenever, wherever. Field service is connected. An interesting side-effect on the consumer side is that with mobile connectivity and social media, consumers not only have higher expectations, but they are also able to tweet to the world to complain if they don't get what they want, when they want it. So, we're seeing pick up in using BPM with real-time analytics to monitor social feeds, do sentiment analysis on content, and respond to consumer comments with automated or guided human response.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 16 2014, 10:26 AM - #Permalink
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    Just another form of UI and for business use which will enhance the need for BPM thinking linked to the mobile device as part of the business process with all attributes - audit trail, real-time feedback, etc
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 16 2014, 10:52 AM - #Permalink
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    Same process, different device. Just as David says!
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tim Bryce
    Tim Bryce
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    Thursday, October 16 2014, 11:05 AM - #Permalink
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    If you designed the business process properly, it shouldn't effect it at all. I see it as nothing but another form of input/output. How is it any different than any other screen with a keyboard or mouse? True, you may want to alter the screen design to accommodate a smaller viewing area, but that should be just about it.
    • Ken Schwarz
      more than a month ago
      There's truth in what you say--from the business process perspective, mobile should be "just another channel" and you shouldn't clutter your business process with channel-specific details.

      But extending BPM to mobile users is not trivial. Responsive web technology (which adapts UI elements to different screen sizes) is essential. But if you want to access native device capabilities (camera, GPS, signature capture, e.g.) or permit work to continue even if network connectivity is lost, you need to deploy native or native/hybrid apps on the mobile device. Then you need to consider how you will distribute the app to users, and if data are stored on the device (which it must be if the apps is to work without network connectivity) then you will need a way to secure the data and potentially remove it from the device remotely.
    • Tim Bryce
      more than a month ago
      Thanks Ken. Business processes should be designed logically so that they can take advantage of the best physical implementation. What you are describing our physical characteristics from the world of programming which, no doubt, will change over time. However, the logical business process (or sub-system) will remain relatively static. See:

      http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/irm-blog/logical-vs-physical-design-do-you-know-the-difference-9011
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 16 2014, 11:33 AM - #Permalink
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    The Internet of Things (IOT) brings wonderful opportunities for BPMS designers and implementers. With the billions of bits of telemetry these devices give off every second we have ability to take more of the human interaction out of processes and systems. Devices can, and should, participate in the business process and save the humans the effort. The guard walking the mall is sending location data all the time and does not need to check in. The warehouse bin knows when it's inventory is nearing empty and can initiate the reorder process. Sensors in the office determine who is at their desk and whose calls should be forwarded to their cell phone. This is not to say we are removing human effort from the process. The fact is that humans will have to still carry out the work: just not the paper-work. Humans can then turn their attention to handling exceptions and improving the process to eliminate the exceptions.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 16 2014, 11:37 AM - #Permalink
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    It already has – how did you miss it? On a desktop, people have time to watch the little spinny wheel – sitting down in a controlled environment. They’ve room to multi-task – to click on links and read what comes up, keep lots of things open at once and to open up new pages or applications to check things before clicking the Yes or No buttons. But desktop devices are not mainstream. Haven’t been for a while. Soon there will be 5 billion more smartphones out there than there are PCs and Macs. And on a smartphone the whole methodology is different. People are doing something else. So it must serve them – and quickly – over a poor data line. Multi-tasking is possible – but it isn’t easy, so it doesn’t happen much. And on a small screen you don’t read around the subject – you want a swipe and click experience. Good Process Design can make the difference between “useless app” and “phew, just what I needed”. It gives people the data they need to make a decision presented in a simple, intuitive fashion and it uses location, orientation and movement to make it a more useful decision which can be acted on instantly. And this is just as important for an inventory manager standing in a warehouse accessing the company's systems as it is for customers. But that doesn’t answer your question. BPM is getting in the way of this, not facilitating it. It has a 1980s idea of what customers want and how to deliver it, hard-coded into it. This makes simple tasks hard and slow. It is set up by people who wouldn’t know a customer if they saw one. Their customers are managers, focused on their own internal metrics and remote from the needs of customers who pay their salaries. The User eXperience is dead in the water before any BPM project begins. Worst of all, it isn’t dynamic. Doesn’t have an inkling of the possibilities offered by geo-location, connection, orientation etc. Doesn’t recognise that what a customer wanted yesterday may not be what they are after today. Mobile shows up just how out of date BPM really is. We need to migrate rapidly to intelligent, social processes. Before the mobile web simply leaves us behind.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 16 2014, 12:40 PM - #Permalink
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    Q: How will mobile devices impact BPM? A: No impact at all. BPM is a practice around continually improving business by evaluating how well the processes are running, and how to improve them. Maybe the improvement involves better use of robots. The use of robots does not mean that BPM has been changed by robots. The business might be changed by robots, but BPM is the process of making that change. Use of mobile technology will change business, and it will change the applications that people use, nd it might even cause fundamental changes to the business processes. But BPM is just the method we use to evaluate whether we have improved the business or not. When quantum computing goes mainstream, the BPM practitioners might determine that the business should be radically changed to make use of quantum computers ... but BPM will still be the same.
    • Gary Samuelson
      more than a month ago
      Excellent point.
      re: "no impact at all" - and per your discussion (which I was scanning for), "BPM is a practice" - precisely.

      The impact of "mobile devices" caused more of a distraction to the practice - which isn't necessarily a bad thing in, as a new set features/technologies, should upset the cart... The good it's brought to BPM was additional weight behind the user-centric side, or view, of BPM.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 16 2014, 03:11 PM - #Permalink
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    Well, Keith is a pretty smart guy, so I'm loath to disagree with him, but here goes. Let's try this analogy: How did the advent of the theory of evolution impact the life sciences? NO IMPACT AT ALL. Well, OK, sure. The biologists continued to study living things, using the scientific method, publishing papers, and so on. The practice of biology didn't change. Except that the entire direction of the field, and the day to day work of actual life scientists, was completely transformed. Ubiquitous computing (IMHO, a much better name than "mobile" or "Internet of Random Crap" or whatever) is one of the developments that is changing BPM in essential ways. BPM is moving from back office to customer-facing. It is sacrificing analysis in favor of experience. And so on.
    • Gary Samuelson
      more than a month ago
      Well... "Internet of Random Crap" does have a sticky ring to it.

      I really enjoyed you nailing an image of the "mobile herd". Nicely capturing, with few words, flocks of Hitchcock-esk' phat-phones fighting over limited nesting. And, also laughing at myself given that I've played both sides in past discussions - admitted guilt in pushing mobility-of-things ("internet of random crap").
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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
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    Thursday, October 16 2014, 03:18 PM - #Permalink
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    Sorry. But slighly wrong question being asked. We should consider mobility (adjective) not mobile device (noun). Mobility changes business models, esp when combined with cloud, social, big data and connected users.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 23 2014, 05:12 PM - #Permalink
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    It\'s not about the devices or the UIs, but the context of the users. Mobile users have access to different information at different times to traditional office-bound BPMS users. Mobile technology allows users previously excluded from participating in automated processes to be included, or to participate at different points in the process, with potentially radical effects on the processes themselves. I see vendors just now waking up to the potential of BPM technology to support a mobile workforce. Pega\'s acquisition of Antenna, and Red Hat\'s acquisition of FeedHenry point to future process-enabled mobile solutions. mBaaS and bpmPaaS together are a natural fit. I think we\'ll soon see new ways to engage with mobile users and connect them to their processes and systems of record.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 23 2014, 11:13 PM - #Permalink
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    Thinking about Phil Simpson's comment, "context of the users"... I see a big difference between business-process and mobile-applications. The context, from my experience, is a person working at their desk and/or home office. The phone (mobile device) is then an extension of the work-environment. This is the context.

    Now I'm not saying that the phone doesn't have a place within BPM systems - they do. But, that place is very limited outside the formal work environment (where work gets done) - meaning that I'm not so sure a phone fits too well as a BPM system device (user-interface) outside commonly understood telephony (telecom systems). So, what good is a smart phone outside the context of say... CRM? Where's the process fit behind our common BPM drivers:

    • cutting costs
    • improved efficiency

    High-value workers usually get more work done within the office context. Outside the office a participant's business value is reduced to a recovery effort of lost time. The worker is significantly disadvantaged given the limited process-toolset available within your common smart-phone.

    Basically, the smart-phone is stuck as a point-solution (phone app' host) for the time-being. Something like 'google-glass' can change this perspective... but not yet.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Monday, October 27 2014, 02:37 PM - #Permalink
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    Ubiquitous and mobile access provide more opportunities for user experience designers. So while "theoretically" a business-process-is-a-business-process-is-a-business-process, it's likely that processes will evolve in response to the new deployment opportunities. I suspect that the UX community, which tends to have a very broad view of what they are all about, will be more than happy to push the boundaries of business processes.
    It's a little like banking. Retail banking is still about consumer banking services; how those services are delivered have evolved dramatically with the advent of ATMs.
    On the topic of UX, UX designers often seem to have less appreciation than would be hoped for, concerning what BPM and business process are all about. Yesterday I tweeted that "UX evangelists think experience is eating the world" (with apologies to Andreessen). Perhaps an exaggeration, but not much of one . . . Let's hope we can all work together.
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