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Overcoming Goliath: The New Nimbleness of BPM and Workflow

Peter Schooff: Hello there. This is Peter Schooff, Managing Editor at BPM.com. Today I have the great pleasure of speaking with Taylor Dondich, the CTO of ProcessMaker. Taylor has worked with companies such as Yahoo, Spunk and most recently he was the VP of Engineering at MaxCDN, which he helped grow from a start-up until it was acquired by StackPath. Taylor has extensive experience in enterprise software development with a focus on performance stability and security. Today we're gonna discuss how work gets done in a company today and how ProcessMaker can dramatically improve that. So first of all Taylor, thank you so much for joining me today.

Taylor Dondich: Peter, thank you so much for having me.

Peter Schooff: So looking at the whole perspective, what do you see as some of the biggest problems with work getting done in a company today?

Taylor Dondich: You know what's really funny is in the last five years you hear this phrase digital transformation over and over and over again. And really, the goal of that was to digitally transform all business processes so that it's easier to get everything done digitally through your laptop or through your web or mobile device. But that's just not the reality of things right. There's so many manual processes that computers just don't have visibility into that are part of day to day business operations. You still have processes that are heavily dependent on paper transactions, phone calls and I think that the reality is we're going to have to accept that a mixture of digital transformation and human interaction is integral to business processes and that's just gonna be the case and we have to find ways to juggle that. So really I think that's a problem that we continue to see and I don't think that problem's gonna go away. I think it's more of a reality check and how do we adapt to that moving forward.

Peter Schooff: I agree with you completely. Now, ProcessMaker's been around forever. BPM has been around forever. Where do you see that most BPM products or Workflow products, where do you see they fail in this regard?

Taylor Dondich: It's very interesting. So I've been with ProcessMaker now for two years and so I kinda have this new set of eyes when looking at the problem and again it's going back to that digital transformation. You started hearing that phrase five, 10 years ago and it started becoming much more common place five years ago and I feel like BPM players really still are attached to that kind of mentality. And what's interesting is as we move forward, a lot of the BPM players are still dealing with the traditional computer interface of even just, enterprise, desk top applications, maybe some are moving into web applications, but as we look at digital transformation but still have to evolve the human interaction element there's new interaction taking place with business users through Flack, chatbots, Alexa, things like that which are not part of the traditional enterprise application delivery model. And so a lot of the current players are still struggling with this evolution process of now having to figure out how to interact, not just with the standard digital interaction model, but with these new interaction models in combination with the traditional paper processes, phone processes and such. And I think that's the biggest struggle.

So I look at this as a David and Goliath experience. You have these big lumbering giants that are still tied into this mind think of 10 years ago and now you're starting to see some very nimble players enter the space to try and approach this problem. Now the other problem that we are seeing is that a lot of the BPM players have traditionally had all of their solutions bundled into their project. There was one stop shop, one stop interface that you would log into and try and do all of your business needs. And that would be everything from emailing a customer to updating their customer relationship records, things like that. And now businesses are getting more agile and adopting multiple solutions to solve this problem. So now it's becoming an ecosystem of business products. So you have your mail products, you have a customer relationships products and some of these products are just way out there. I look at Intercom IELTS as a very, very good example as a customer relationship product that is very nimble but very different from like the traditional customer management tool that you would have seen five years ago.

Businesses are not only just taking advantage of these specific products but all the products out in the ecosystem. I've seen enterprise customers now taking advantage of 50 to 100 different types of products and now they're looking at BPM players and say, look, I don't want to use your product as the one-stop shop. I need your product to interact with all of these products and have them work together. And so, again it's a David and Goliath experience. You have these big lumbering giants still stuck in that mindset but now you're starting to see some nimble players that are starting to really understand that model and take advantage of it.

Peter Schooff: That makes a lot of sense. Now I know you guys have a new release so can you just paint a picture of what you're addressing in this latest ProcessMaker release?

 

You have these big lumbering giants that are still tied into this mind think of 10 years ago and now you're starting to see some very nimble players enter the space to try and approach this problem.

-Taylor Dundich

Taylor Dondich: So we have ProcessMaker 3 right now and that's still doing some wonderful improvements there. We're really taken advantage of cloud environment, and we've started to put in some integration features into other platform tools and such. We do have the next big evolution of our product, ProcessMaker 4, and that is really taking the story that I just talked about to the next level. So we're starting to look at how we can become more of an orchestration system across disparate products that businesses are using as well as take a look at the new interaction models with business users and how can we best get them to do their work through the interaction model that they're most familiar with.

 

So I'm really excited about that. And we kinda started off with a clean slate with that. We looked at all of the lessons that we learned with our current product and it's previous iterations, we took a look at a lot of other players in the BPM space, especially those new nimble entrants and said what's the best thing out of them and can we bring overall solution together that recognizes those things. And I think that I'm, I'm really excited about it. We're gonna start showing that publicly very early next year. It's an open sourced project as well. You can see a lot of that, start playing around with it, and the moment you start playing around with it you go, okay this is, this is a different experience.

Peter Schooff: Orchestration is definitely the key that is going to be one of the competitive differentiators. Now one of today’s mantras is work smarter not harder. So how does ProcessMaker help people work smarter?

Taylor Dondich: So, when you take a look at the traditional BPM players a lot of the tools that you put in front of process owners can be very overwhelming at first. So when I joined, and like I said, I've been with the company now for two years. Kinda gave a new set of eyes to the problem, I nearly sat down, not just with our product with other products in the same space and said, "This is overwhelming," and I think that the moment someone said I need to automate this business process, it's overwhelming to get started. So I took a look at that also, other new entrants, and I saw how they're approaching this BPM/Workflow, I really like the term Workflow more, problem and how do we deliver it in a easier to understand way so that people can build these automated processes or these orchestrations processes in a way that makes sense to them. And it's really means delivering a more simplified experience to get the majority of the problems done.

So when you take a look at the next iteration of our product, you'll see a lot of the knobs and dials have simply gone away. And we delivered a much more simplified experience and I think that by doing that, but still allowing the complexity through for those very rich enterprises that really need to make much more complex processes internally and still get it done, we deliver an experience that allows people to get things done just faster without having to have that domain experience. And that's what I say about working smarter.

Peter Schooff: Cool. And simple complexity is really the future. Now digital transformation, work has clearly changed. Everybody's multi-tasking and that often poses challenges. You sort of addressed this already but can you touch on it again, how ProcessMaker addresses this whole use of 100 different applications in an hour?

Taylor Dondich: Yeah, I mean, so I'm a father. I've got four kids and when I observe my children and their ranges of eight to 14, I look at their attention spans. And these are individuals that have grown up in that digital transformation "age", and you can see them switching between apps, talking to Alexa, using their laptops, computers, phones and you really do recognize that the interaction models are all over the place and that the attention span of using each of these interaction models is very, very short. And if you start looking at business users now, you can see that same type of pattern. People are switching between say SLACK, to their email client, to Facebook, to any of the variety of business tools that I mentioned before, and the attention span there is very, very quick. So how do you get your tools in front of them in that short attention span in the medium that they're expecting and give them the options or the controls to go to the next step in the process. And that's what we need to do. We need to understand that there's short attention span, a lot of tools in place so how can you play in that ecosystem quickly and allow people to get their things done?

Peter Schooff: Right. Now here we are, November 2018, heading into 2019, so what does ProcessMaker have coming ahead? What do you see in the future for you guys?

Taylor Dondich: Well again, you're gonna see ProcessMaker 4 start to come into the light, and you're gonna start seeing how we're thinking the next 10 years is gonna be for businesses, automating the Workflow and getting things done. You're gonna see much more simplified experience, but still allowing a very, very powerful tool to be used for complex tasks. I'm really excited because we're really making it so the system understands there's an orchestration across an ecosystem of business tools but also recognizing the human element. Recognizing that we have to interact with humans in all the different ways that they expect and in a very streamlined simple and fast way. So I'm really excited. We're gonna start seeing that in the next few months in the public eye. Can't wait.

Peter Schooff: Fantastic. Now in conclusion, what would you say is the one takeaway you want people to takeaway from this podcast?

Taylor Dondich: Things are changing. Take a look at some of the new entrants that are in the field. I'm gonna go ahead and call it out. Microsoft, I'm surprised at the evolution that Microsoft has done in the last, I would say, two years. If you take a look at what their business delivery model was 10 years ago, it's dramatically different from what it is now. Now software's a service delivery model. You take a look at tools such as Office or even enterprise platforms such as their Windows Server Platform, simplification. Simplification. And also getting complex tasks done in a faster way. So if you take a look at Microsoft Flow, and I'm sure your audience has heard this tool a little bit, it originally came from automating their Microsoft Azure cloud product, but they're starting to make it a much more generalized workflow tool for Microsoft oriented ecosystems. But if you look at the Microsoft Flow product you will see that you can get a lot done in a simpler delivery way and so that's how we're changing. And I see that that's gonna continue the trend in the next five years. New interface models with business users, shorter attention spans, and more simplification to get things done faster.

Peter Schooff: Fantastic. I think I have a little demo with ProcessMaker 4 next week, so I'm really looking forward to seeing that. This is Peter Schooff of BPM.com speaking with Taylor Dondich, the CTO of ProcessMaker. Taylor thanks so much. Excellent information and can't wait to see what's ahead with you guys.

Taylor Dondich: Thank you Peter.

Peter Schooff
Author: Peter SchooffWebsite: bpm.com
Managing Editor
Peter Schooff is Managing Editor at BPM.com, where he oversees the BPM.com Forum as well as other content and social media initiatives. Peter has over 15 years experience in various enterprise IT fields, including serving as Director of Marketing for email security company Message Partners. Most recently he served as Managing Editor for ebizQ, for which he created and ran the ebizQ forum. Peter is known world-wide for his views and contributions to BPM, and was named among the Top 12 Influencers of Case Management through independent market research.