Defining the Digital Businesss
- Published: November 5, 2015
- Written by Peter Schooff
In this excerpt from the podcast, Jim Sinur and Peter Schooff, discuss how to define and identify a digital business. Jim Sinur is an independent thought leader in applying business process management. His blog may be found here.
Peter: Hello, this is Peter Schooff, managing editor at BPM.com. Today I have the great pleasure of speaking with Jim Sinur. I think everyone's pretty much familiar with his name, and if you're not, he's an independent thought leader applying business process management to innovative digital organizations. His research in the areas of personal experience focus on business process innovation, business modeling, business process and management technology, and much, much more. All of which you should definitely read at his blog. Jim was a former Gartner VP and was a practitioner for over 20 years with BPM. He's also one of the authors of the book, "BPM: The Next Wave," which is definitely worth a read. First of all, Jim, thank you so much for joining me on this podcast.
Jim: Well it's great to be here Peter, nice to talk to you again.
Peter: Looking at your blog, I know you brought up digital business a bit. First of all could you define, what is a digital business?
Jim: This is one of those elusive definitions because there are many of them out there. Gartner has theirs, Forrester has theirs and the other thing is that it keeps shifting because it's evolving. It's a lot like jumping on a merry-go-round and landing on the merry-go-round without falling and then finding the right spot to settle. It's a lot like that. I do have a definition of my own which I published recently on the blog. It says that digital business is a leverage of available and emerging resources to compete effectively to win temporal or permanent loyalty of all the parties that you do business with. Whether it's customers or partners that interact with the business while maintaining business longevity by changing and evolving the business model and shifting decisions and work to technology from people.
So there's a huge shift that's going on with digital. Some of the other definitions that you see out there and probably one of the most popular one is Gartner's. Basically they're saying it's the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical world. I can imagine what that means, but the tough part about digital is it's evolving, it's emerging. The best way to think of it is, a flower that's slowly blooming and opening. You can't miss the full blossoming of it because you'll be to late. So you have to be involved. It's quite an interesting evolution that's going on. I would view it going digital as a journey.
Peter: Definitely. That definition is fairly wide spectrum I'd say. What are some of the key steps they can take to start this journey to becoming a digital business?
Jim: If you're a planner, there's a way to start, and if you're a non-planner there's another way to start. If you're a non-planner, you want to enhance the customer experience. That's a great place to start. So doing mobile first and doing customer journey mapping to find out what the customers really want is an important step. That's what I call a reactive approach. I tend to work with organizations that are proactive. So they want to come up with a target architecture, or business architecture, or business model, and they wanted to find the steps that it takes to get there. Now obviously since it's evolving, as they learn it'll shift the target. So it's an incremental process but you have to define that first target, learn from it, and hopefully you're using the kind of technology that allows you to evolve and adapt quickly. Hopefully you have the confidence of your people to have them deal with the kind of change that's involved with that kind of shift.
Peter: That makes sense. Now, to relate it directly to BPM.com, what role do you see BPM playing in the future of the digital business?
Jim: Well the digital business needs a number of platforms. It's going to need new kinds of applications. It's going to need new infrastructure, but interest in new analytics. I mean, people are saying we're moving into an algorithmic economy. So BI on steroids, big data analytics is a key part of this. BPM tends to be a good hub to start. The reason that it's good is that it's built for change. You can basically support bi-model behavior and what I mean by that is, you can change the way a process which links a bunch of existing applications potentially or new functionality quickly and so you can change it during operation time. The other thing is that it greatly speeds up development time. Part of it's model driven. Part of it is being able to take different pieces and collect and orchestrate them and manage them as resources.
It's easy to operate and it's easy to develop and compose. If you take that as a key feature of BPM, it's got to play a role. Beside, most good BPM capabilities give you fantastic visibility at a minimum it's dashboards. At a maximum it's a set of balanced score cards of sorts. BPM will be part of the answer. The question is where do you start? Are you going to start off with an analytic driven approach? Are you going to start off with a room driven approach? Are you going to start off with a data driven approach? Or are you going to start with a process driven approach? What I mean by process is, it's not traditionally lock step processes that don't change usually, I'm talking about unstructured, flowing, evolving kinds of processes that you see in case management.
Peter: Excellent. Business today seems particularly driven by customer service. How does all of this help companies deliver top level customer service?
Jim: There's a couple of aspects to it. One is you're making a shift. So instead of pushing standard transactions on customers, you're going to be taking a look at how they're interact with your company if you're any good. Now you can take those standard transactions and give it a different experience, a better look, make it more compelling so that people do the standard transactions. I don't think that's the true answer for digital, but it helps. The true answer is mapping their true journey and where you fit into their lives, their context and were you going to give them control.