You know you really need BPM when… You’re being outcompeted by your own website.
Back in the mid-nineties two separate process trains started hesitantly down the track. One was BPM, a term first coined by David McCoy at Gartner in 1999. The second began five years earlier - exactly 20 years ago this month in July 1994 - when Jeff Bezos incorporated Amazon.com.
His vision with Amazon was a process so slick, so efficient and so customer-friendly that there would be no need for customer support, for retail outlets, or for much in the way of warehousing. He chose the Internet as his software of choice.
This approach didn’t just change book retailing but it swept the travel agent and insurance broker from our high streets. Travel websites took the horribly complex data of millions of flights, hotels, car bookings and destinations and turned it into a few pretty pictures and an instant buying decision with – even more importantly – instant payment. The customer is blissfully unaware, but lift the curtain of the pretty website and you find an expensive nightmare of bespoke Java and hand-coded links to incredibly legacy databases and applications.
Customer journey technology is now key to competitiveness in several sectors. DPD, for example, completely leapfrogged the traditional parcel delivery companies through better technology to tell people where their parcels were, give the driver instructions and create instant delivery notifications.
Now this is what BPM is great at. All those horrible old databases and legacy applications can be simply wired in to deliver up their precious cargo of data – roundtrip of course, updating them on the fly. The process can be dynamic and intelligent, changing as the prospect takes a particular path on their customer journey. The data immediately tells us whether we have a bottleneck, happy path or excess capacity and whether we should re-price or promote something else to take the pressure off this one.
All of this can be delivered instantly to the customer advisor, in store, branch, contact centre or the bots on a website, giving a unified experience and keeping your offer up to date without all the training, news and pricing updates and all that other internal communication.
Best of all, you design it once. No need to pay millions to web coders, then have the contact centre devise their systems and the retail chain create their own. One simple system underpinned by BPM doing what it is good at.
If you have a company where the website is doing an increasing amount of the business, you need BPM to get in there and bring the rest of the company up to scratch. Then of course, you can use it for the website as well.