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As Jason Bloomberg writes in the article, The End of Business Process in the Digital Era, "In the Digital Era, however, everything you thought you knew about business processes, and thus how human effort drives productivity and profit in the organizations we work for, is wrong." So do you think business processes will be less important in the digital era?
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
As an opener see my response sent to Jason

Hi Jason
Really like your straight talk...long over due in "IT". I think you are wrong to focus on business processes as the issue...it is the systems processing which has caused so many deficiencies in current mess of enterprise software. Business logic never nor will change yes the horse is now the internet and machines generate data but it is people who are responsible for new data creation...and that is a process....? In my opinion IT screwed up the basic principles of business with inside out silo based systems. Digital now opens the door to get back to people. BPM was that gap recognised in late 90s as a required discipline but you are right the software was not up to the job and the "mess" continued. See how our thinking evolved in research paper I was asked to write...even we are surprised at capabilities nothing is off agenda in supporting operation business needs even intelligent processes and more to come.
Yes the software needs to be able to support not just formal activity but also the informal and never forget compliance is very important in business and will become more so as digital brings new depth of capability.
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 1
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Absolutely not!

No problem with the statement " . . . .we extend the notion of customer journeys to everyone – employees, partners, suppliers, anyone involved in an organization. Instead of the ‘customer journey’ terminology, therefore, let’s generalize the notion to the ‘digital journey.’"

However, "The person usually decides on the order of steps, or moments, rather than the organization laying them out beforehand." . . . . has issues.

This does not work in medicine ( the hospital gets sued) or at crime scene investigation evidence gathering (fail to follow protocol and your evidence gets thrown out of court)

The statement "Digital journeys are clearly different enough from business processes that yesterday’s BPM software is no longer adequate" is spot-on.

Easy remedy - don't use yesterday's BPMs!

Instead, provide a run-time environment where background BPM provides orchestration, where users can skip, jump, re-visit steps, record data at steps not yet current along the timeline and where the user can insert an ac hoc intervention at any point. This brings users to where the same environment can be used for a mix of 5/95% structured or 95/5% structured work.

Since a big part of "digital' involves outreach to and inreach from IoT devices, clearly, it pays to have in place pre-conditions at process steps (either a sequence of linked steps OR a single ad hoc step) so that your environment does not engage processing at steps when the data is not right, when the required resources are not in place etc.
References
  1. http://www.kwkeirstead.wordpress.com
Comment
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 2
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Of course not. Processes are "the things" that deliver products or services that solve the problems of your customers.

That will not change. So, the Why? and What? of processes will stay.

The How? and Who? of processes, will change of course. And digitilization is one of those changes.

Like for example; people still want their homes insured. Processes still deliver that insurance. But by who and how that is done is different than 10 years ago.

In short; processes will always stay important
Sharing my adventures in Process World via Procesje.nl
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 3
Jim Sinur
Blog Writer
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Processes of various types will be under the covers of many digital efforts. It the most obvious situation a new process could create a competitive differentiation. It might only be a simple workflow, a happy path process, complex case management, a goal driven process or bot negotiated actions, but process will be there. Process may not be in the spot light as they were in the past, but visually understanding what a process is, what it will be and what it did will be key in digital implmentations. No doubt in my mind.
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 4
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...(I'm still freaked out by how Jason reads and sanctions my mind: he knows everything I think I know about processes (easy!), and he knows that everything up there is wrong (also, predictable!).

*puts on tinfoil hat*)...

Just another typical BPM / ACM / DBP doomsday marketing material - BPM is dead, process is dead, shut up, buy from us and repent!
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 5
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Processes are no longer important in the digital era for those companies who have become obsolete and die. Everyone else needs processes to run their operations.
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 6
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Agree about “In the Digital Era, however, everything you thought you knew about business processes, and thus how human effort drives productivity and profit in the organizations we work for, is wrong.” and that article is a perfect proof.

1 “we mean by a business process. They consist of a sequence of steps representing tasks or actions, with a clear beginning and an end, which represents a business goal.” – Wrong. Now, business process is a an explicit and machine-executable coordination of work which employs various coordination techniques not only flow-chart. Vry adaptable processes, predictions, etc are a norm.

2. “Such digital journeys are different from business processes in several fundamental ways. The person usually decides on the order of steps, or moments, rather than the organization laying them out beforehand.” Wrong, the best next action is a complex but explicit logic based on digital information which can be execute without people – chatbot, IA are the example. The business processes is the best home for them.

3. “Most importantly, each journey is unique to the individual. Businesses can group them together in many ways for various purposes, but the groupings don’t define the journeys the way that business processes define their instances.” Wrong. Right now, each instance may have its own and unique template.

4. “Since every journey is unique and each individual decides their own moments, a flowchart metaphor is a poor fit for a digital journey. ” It was known for many years thus giving as a new argument is wrong. Although each journey is unique, all of them consist of many repeatable patterns – check-in, bag drop, security check, etc.

I find shocking that although business processes which were the first digital business artefact in many enterprises are declared now not important for the Digital Era. They anticipated and implemented this Digital Era when many people didn’t notice it.

Thanks,
AS
Comment
@Alexander Bravo !
Thanks @Karl.
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4584
@Alexander Outstanding!
Thanks @John.

I can add that in the Digital Era, because the changes must be carried out very quickly, only processes can orchestrate such changes at the scale of an enterprise and its clients.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 7
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The original reference to the Intellyx article is worth review as an expression of business evolution and need today. However, in concert with previous comments, I say that BPM is being sold short. A move from "profit-centricity to human-centricity" or from "business process to customer journey" may be what the doctored ordered -- but is not a correct analylsis of the meaning of BPM technology. Business is about work and BPM software technology is the technology of the work of business. As I have shared in the article series BPM Technology As Revolutionary Enabler, only in BPM software technology, by definition, are the concepts of work and process first class citizens of that technology. BPM technology "just is" regardless of how it's hidden under customer journey abstractions.

To say that "journeys trump processes" is like suggesting that "cash flow trumps debits and credits" (or that cats trump skeletons). In accounting, one has fundamental abstractions associated with the automation of work, abstractions on which higher level abstractions, such as journeys, can be built. Same thing with BPM software technology. Business wants customer journeys -- and that's fantastic -- they will be most easily built and evolved on the foundation of good BPM software technology. And the technology keeps getting better all the time.

Whether one wants to "sell BPM" or just "sell journey technology" is a sales and marketing question. The danger of allowing sales and marketing questions to define our discussion of the technology of process automation technology is that we will lose what has been achieved with BPM technology and we will be buried under the frameworks and templates and code -- in which process and work are not first class citizens. To continue the original accounting comparison, that would be like asking software vendors to build cash flow tools without reference to debits and credits and everything else related to accounting technology. The result would not be pretty. BPM technology is the technology of the work of business. It's an amazing achievement, and it keeps improving. Automating work is hard. And with the IoT, we need BPM even more. Stay the course. Frustrations are not forecasts.
Comment
  1. Kay Winkler
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4585
Second that: "BPM technology "just is". A required and currently indivisible component for derivatives such as ACM.
Good point ""journeys trump processes""

Less than helpful proposition (i.e. replacing one word with an equivalent of the same word) - facts are all processes are "journeys".

You don't know where you are likely to end up because Case Managers decide when to close Cases.

The notion that you have reached the "objective" when you reach the end node of a pathway is simplistic.

Most Cases end up being a mix of structured and ad hoc interventions that, for all intents and purposes, are unique to that Case.

Bottom line, you really don't have a "process' until the Case Manager closes the Case. (It ain't over until the fat lady sings).

Never mind "end-to-end processes" - they are important, but rare in today's b2b environment.

What we have today are "process fragments" and a fragment can be a logically connected sequence of steps OR a sequence of ad hoc steps (i.e. processes of one step each) - there is NO difference so long as the outcome is the same.
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4590
+1 @Kay - "indivisible"
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4591
+1 @Walter - "process fragments". One could say "a rose, is a rose, is a rose" -- or all processes are processes, regardless as to whether they are "closed" or "live" or "a fragment" or "orphaned" or "end-to-end" or what have you. A bad process is still a process. As for journey, one can make an argument that the concept of journey has useful additional semantics than pure process. In that case then "all journeys are processes", but the converse is not true.
@John
This goes back a while (Lao Tzu, 6th century BC) - "A journey of a thousand li begins with a single step"
Not sure if he meant this to apply to process steps.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 8
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In addition to some very interesting comments above, I would eventually add that processes will remain to be a center piece for any business strategy that aims at assuring the company's competitiveness. A modern business process viewpoint will just have to be amplified somewhat, to more effectively cater to increased market demands, such as penalty free access to long-tail products and services, human (like) assistance and guidance, and so on. This adherence to elevated request dynamism, diversity and response personalization will likely translate into far shorter but vertically enriched, dynamic business processes that are connected to supporting ad-hoc applications. In short, its more an evolution than the end of business processes.
NSI Soluciones - ABPMP PTY
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 9
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I think we are spending way too much time in this tiring battle of metaphors - which one is the stronger metaphor - Process, Case, Journey (no one has come up yet with Ascension and Enlightenment, but I can hear them sizzling in some tech marketing department!).

The basics remain - whatever metaphor survives is about how we get the work done. The underlying tech (architecture, microservices, coordination patterns etc) is irrelevant to the customer if it doesn't deliver on any of the three possible fundamental business goals: cut costs / increase revenue / improve cash flow.
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
Comment
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4589
+1 @Bogdan that it's all about "how we get work done"!
Concerning metaphors however, here's a question: "Is cash flow a metaphor?" I think not -- cash flow is an emergent property of a socio-technical business system. And accounting software systems have representations of cash flow; the accounting system itself is a hierarchy of abstractions starting from debits and credits etc. (there are abstractions below debits and credits but they are not accounting-related yet). And we use accounting technology to help us do our work, in support of desired business outcomes, such as "cut costs" etc.
Why make this point? And what point am I making? That perhaps we are mixing metaphors and emergent properties -- to the detriment of the technology.
My view on selling BPM technology is that too much emphasis is on outcomes, and not enough on the reality of BPM technology itself. And this is a kind of magical thinking, that we don't have to do "the work of process". Concerning process, I suggest that process is an work-related emergent property of socio-technical business systems, and thus has a reality to it. (It could also be a metaphor.)
Similarly, a "journey" is an emergent property at a higher level of abstraction than process. A journey is ALSO a metaphor. But if we only consider a journey as today's metaphor-du-jour and let the marketing people OWN the idea of journey, then the technology will suffer. Processes, cases, journeys are all real. We agree -- it's how we get the work done! Getting the work done, i believe, requires understanding the technology stack all the way through.
Of course cash flow is not a metaphor. But then again no one is trying to say "cash flow" is dead - "cash deluge" is an emerging revolutionary redefinition that will change the way cash is measured and accounted for, therefore liberating the business world from the tyranny of simple, boring, linear, predictable "cash flow".
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4594
LOL the tyranny of the linear and "the cash deluge". I think we are in violent agreement? I also think some of the champions of the concept of journey are treating process and/or process technology as if they are, or should be, dead ...
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 10
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I certainly agree with the most of the posts. :D

I like the idea of process centric -> human centric. In my view processes do not do anything (they are just models)... all the work is done by people. When we think business development or management all changes are made by people. The machines do what they are designed to do. No management needed. my favorite quote about leadership go like this: "By definition something happens. The leadership is about to make something else to ´happen" .... if you want better results change the process.

Also I like the idea of customer journey. The business (process) is about make customer journey more effective, efficient, fun, easy, enjoyable, fast... this is what the customer is paying for. Value for money...what ever the value the customer might perceive. Here a big challenge for a business process design is to personalize the service or any interaction to fit to the customer's situation and context... digitalization may help in this.

br. Kai
Comment
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 11
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Digital era has brought business process management from niche technology privileged for large corporations to mainstream of modern business. While traditional organizational structures composed of human workers can more or less efficiently operate under process agnostic classical management, digital systems simply do not understand any other language except for rigid and strictly defined workflows. Any manager in an organization using digital workplaces must be fluent in modern process management for mere an ability to fulfill standard management tasks. Unfortunately, understanding of mandatory wide spread BPM education did not yet root enough. As a result, practical digital workflows often emerge as ad-hoc amateur initiatives with dubious relevance and efficiency. We will definitely see soon significant growth in demand for professional process consultancy to meet these essential challenges of the digital era.
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 12
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Good discussion and to me what is coming across is the acceptance of the power of people and process which can drive delivery of digital but there is a lack of this recognition in business (and governments)? Why?....I put blame on old IT for creating unnecessary complexity by their silo inside out systems, accounting profession for allowing the lack of focus on people and their processes where information is created and the industry analysts for failing to do research and truly act in interests of end users. Hopefully such debates with the now high profile Digital need will see progress to getting back to basics of how business really works...it's people and their processes.....= BPM discipline...!
Comment
@David
Top management has to assume some of the responsibility here.

So management, IT, for sure, and I do agree, as well, that accountants need to invent a better way of allocating "overheads" to departments so that, in healthcare, for example, a one-night hospital stay does not cost the patient (his/her insurance, really) $80,000.

A good question we could address at this forum (but only if the audience wants to venture beyond the boundaries of BPM) is why does top management today NOT have good ways and means of putting corporate resources to good use (strategy setting) and monitoring on an ongoing basis progress toward meeting the objectives of initiatives.

I think there has been too much emphasis on bottom up in BPM .

Some corporate cultures are better at top down than bottom up.

I have seen both work in the same organization with different sponsors.
Agree as Dr Deming said transformation starts with transformation of management! However bottom up empowerment of people as a core principle of "systems thinking" can bring significant benefits. To deliver such capability needs real time feed back to support users, ensure all working to plan and see increase in productivity. This is a benefit digitizing operational activity can deliver.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 13
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In my opinion, whatever new and cool digital interface we may provide to a customer (web, mobile, voice, VR etc.), it will always interact with an organization's internal processes. Processes might be fully or partially digitized using humans or the digital workforce, but they will be there behind the scenes.

A quick excerpt from my eBook.

A great looking website, a mobile app, a state of the art customer support center or a new digital product are required, these will (likely) result in great customer conversion rates, but in all cases, they will trigger or interact with some internal operational process. An organization may be able to acquire new customers, but customer retention will heavily depend on how good or bad its internal processes are.
References
  1. https://adeeljaved.com/digital-process-automation/
  2. https://adeeljaved.com/2016/09/29/why-digital-transformation-cant-proceed-without-process-digitization/
--
Adeel Javed
Intelligent Automation Specialist (BPM, RPA, Rules & Integrations).
Comment
@Adeel. Well said something often overlooked in the hype of Digital and makes it very important as to how these interactions can be handled involving orchestration of legacy. Any DBP must address which makes it "Disruptive"...
  1. more than a month ago
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