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What would you say is more important to customer experience: data or process?
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They are not mutually exclusive. Process may have slight edge because data can't act by definition. Data is a static thing and something has to orchestrate and act on the data. Information is derived from data and the 'derive' is an action of something else on the data. However we are making a mistake of breaking down things like this as to what is more important. We live in an integrated world and the digital world is truly the integration of many things to make the world of the customer turn.
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Process has value from it's starting position i.e. a process map, even if that map is a high-level map that has not yet been broken down into steps that identify explicit tasks.

Data, on the other hand, has no value, other than as a precursor to information. Information in turn can be progressed to knowledge, then to understanding, then to wisdom.

The further along, the better the decision-making except that the nature of decision-making is such that decisions get made when they need to get made e.g. the RFP is due by midnight tomorrow, the RFP response will reflect what the bidder is comfortable with.

If follows that management can make a decision at any stage along data -> information -> knowledge -> understanding -> wisdom. This 'decision quality chain' has been described by many, the best explanation, based on my limited review, coming from Russell Ackoff. (5 categories).

Of course, top management in any corporation can make a decision based on intuition which presumably is present before engaging the "decision maturity" chain detailed above. Except that differentiating between intuition and wisdom is difficult.
  1. http://www.kwkeirstead.wordpress.com
I found the reference: Ackoff, R. L., "From Data to Wisdom", Journal of Applied Systems Analysis, Volume 16, 1989 p 3-9.
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The process is the main element of representation of the customer experience, such as the sequence of steps, the points of contact (MOT), and the business rules. The data must always appear in the context of the process, what data needs to be processed at each step, and then how best to process them (technologies such as applications, IT services) to achieve the best possible process performance aiming the best customer satisfaction.
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I would argue: on the short run - process, on the long run - data. Of course, process and data are inseparable and by default, any process requieres a sound data structure. I tried to cover most of the relevant details, published in the article, referenced by the link below.
Essential process data will include variables that describe the process logic (things like end users, response and task cycle times, case status and so on) and variables pertaining to the business logic, usually deriving from the process forms and its integrations to 3rd party integrations (things like, depending on the type of process, request amounts, decisioning, demographics etc.). The real leverage (long term aspect) comes when the company firstly makes sure to store the before mentioned data in an "orderly fashion" over a longer period of time, and then starts to harvest valuable information from that data with the means of BI, ML and even AI, feeding back regressional pattern recognition into the logical business process. Likely manually at first but later automatically.
  1. https://www.bonitasoft.com/library/role-data-business-processes
NSI Soluciones - ABPMP PTY
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All valid points presented here. Process without data serves no purpose while data without process goes nowhere. Placing data in context is crucial to the customer experience. If I present you with the number 42 - it has no meaning as there is no context, but if I told you "The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42", you may now realize I am referencing the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams as it is now in context. The way I look at data is exactly the same. Until it is in context, it has no meaning and once presented in context, it is now information which of course is then combined and compiled into content.

Process is of course essential as well in that the simpler the process, the greater the customer experience. It should not be difficult to take action either as an internal customer, or an external customer. Simplicity is key. When you look at banking today, the deposit process is as simple as using your mobile phone, take a picture and you are done. You don't even have to go to an ATM anymore. This then leads to discussions about the interface or front-end of the process. Not matter what the process and how simple it is, if the interface - the way we interact with the process - is cumbersome, users will avoid it.

I guess what I am saying is that you have to look at the big picture through the eyes of your intended audience, if you want to create a great customer experience.
Bob Larrivee
President and Founder
Bob Larrivee Consultancy
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TL;DR: Customer experience is the perception of how a product or service helped "get the job done". Software product or services are built around automation artefacts that depend on embedded domain work functionality and domain work language. And process and data respectively are the software technologies that enable work and language. Both process and data are inescapably essential. An explicit focus on deep process and data is a foundation on which to build all the way to better customer experience.

Tough question! Why? Because it's easy to say process and data are important for customer experience. And yet customer experience is so often poor. So let's see how understanding the relationship of process and data might point us in the direction of better customer experience.

We can start by asking what customer experience is. "Customer experience" is the perception by the customer of working with one's product or service. The full experience includes both automated and non-automated work. If I buy a shovel, and use it to dig a hole, I may say "it's a great shovel". There's no automation involved! But my experience, due to good engineering design and manufacture, has been positive. Thus customer experience is first-of-all about work.

If customer experience is about the perception of work, what can we say about work? And specifically what can we say about process and data as applied to work? The answer to these questions will provide leverage for better customer experience:

1) PROCESS is very important as the first-class conception of the work of the customer. Experience is the customer's perception of how well that process faired against the job to be done. Process on the other hand is the realization as work of the functionality of your product or service. CONSIDER: That sometimes the "work-of-the-customer" and/or the "job-to-be-done" gets lost. Even a focus on process and work in the world of customer experience (and customer journey) is almost novel. Lots of times, customer experience becomes nothing more than a "customer survey" of whether or not the customer was happy. A customer survey is a long, long way from designed-in process supporting the work of the customer.

2) DATA is also very important! If we think that process and work don't get enough attention in the context of customer experience, this is even more true of data. Data is the language of any domain of work. You can't build good technology unless the subjects of the domain you are automating become first-class citizens of that technology. This means data modeling. Your data model becomes the "special language" of the software artefacts you are building. When you implement process, the process is "about the first-class concepts" that you have built into your product. CONSIDER: That data modeling (including conceptual modeling etc.) sometimes gets short shrift in a rush to implement. The price paid for poor data modeling, in conceptual entropy and development failure, is very high.

Customer experience is dependent on great products and services that help get the job done. Insofar as those great products and services in turn depend on automation, then process and data are both essential. Process makes the work of the customer a first-class citizen of the product or service. And data defines the language of that work domain and then the terms of the domain become first-class citizens of the product or service. Between process and data you have functionality and language. It's a good recipe for automation artefacts that help get the job done. Lots of opportunity to get it right. Getting it right though depends on a commitment to actually doing process and data -- and that's more of an economics and a governance problem than a technical problem.
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Proper management of the data stored in process instances allows us to manage the knowledge within the organization, which is probably its greatest asset. So data is important? Yes, but only if it can become information and then knowledge for workers.

Properly managing knowledge within an organization means to convey it to the ones who use it, when they need it and in the right way.

So, in sum, I don't think one is more important than the other. But both together, are vital for successful knowledge management initiatives based on business processes.

These ideas were explored further in the reference link.

Best !
  1. https://www.flokzu.com/blog/en/bpm_hr/knowledge-management-business-processes
CEO at Flokzu Cloud BPM Suite
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I am with John. The customers buy our products and services because they help them with their "job-to-be-done". More understanding and anticipation of such "job-to-be-done" is better. The question is not "What is more important", but "How to achieve synergy". In addition to obvious technologies, I think, that a capability to use many various coordination techniques is very important. See [1]

For example, some cars have have 5+1 gears, but, in accordance with F1 rules, "F1 gearboxes must consist of eight forward gears (the ratios having been selected ahead of the season) plus reverse".

  1. http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.com/2014/03/coordination-techniques-in-bpm.html
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They are mutually dependent on each other. Let me demonstrate with a real life example. Last week I checked in to a respectable hotel chain in a respectable neighbourhood in London (UK). The process of checking in was superb, very friendly, speedy and customer oriented (being a recurring customer seems to help). Nevertheless, I needed to return to the front desk 3 times because the key card did not work.

After some fiddling around, a senior reception person found out the problem. They had been renumbering the rooms and sometimes a door keycard needed to be loaded with the old number instead of the new number. The strange thing here is "sometimes", it was consistently the case and could differ per room.

Again, the process was top-notch, the data that was being used in the process not so much. I believe that it is easier to work around a faulty process based on perfect data than it is to run a perfect process based on incorrect data.

As a consequence, I believe that you need both but if the data is not correct, the process can be perfect, it can be drafted in heaven by an angle, but it will get you nowhere. I can reach no other conclusion than that data is just a little bit more important in the end for a good customer experience than the process (did I really say this?)...
BPM is all about mindset first and toolset later....much later
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Process is critical for customer experience. Data primarily impacts CX in two ways; that is, when the data is wrong, and when the data lacks context. If your process presents up-to-date and accurate information, in the context of data already known about the customer and their goals—then you've got a solid foundation for a great user experience.

Now add some nice colors and stuff.


Scott's opinions only. Logo provided for information only.

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Ah ha... an easy one: They are both equally important. One cannot exist without the other. Data is the child of a process parent. Without process there is no data. You can define a process but as soon as you instantiate it you have data. Just measuring a line, recording a name, or naming a flower - the data you create is the result of a process, an activity described by a verb preceding the noun (data).

That said, we in the tech sector have a habit of blowing hot about data every ten years or so. From Informatics in the 80's to Data Warehousing and Big Data this century data-related subjects regularly rise to the top of the hype pile. Not so for process.

When Bill Gurley wrote in 2003 that BPM would do for the rest of business what JIT did for manufacturing it looked like Process might get hyped. It didn't. In fact Paul Harmon's latest BP Trends post reads like an obituary for BPM.

My guess is that we are at least 10 to 15 years away from Process being 'a thing' ...despite RPA hype. For some like auto parts manufacturers and airlines process is critical to their business, but until consumer demand for certified quality forces governments to regulate process verification the importance of process will continue to wax and wane.

Personally I think it's a matter of linguistics - data is a snappy, catchy word, whereas process sounds blah. RPA is a thing thanks to the word Robot. If it was BPA we wouldn't hear about it.
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This is a trick question... there is no process without data, the "process" is about transforming inputs to outputs. No data no process. The data is about the content of the process. e.g. in the case of hotel right room number matching the key information or in banking correct amount money in the account. The transformation (or action) is about how the work is done e.g. friendly and timely service. In this context, a valid point might be "garbage in garbage out". Incorrect data leads to high cost and bad quality destroying value creation and loss of customers.

What do we mean by "customer experience"?... this is about the customer "doing his job" such as sleeping in the hotel or paying the bills... one aspect of this is, does the customer succeed in what he is doing... all the value is created in the customer process step by step. The customer's activity leads to the emotional reaction... positive, neutral or negative. The customer may report when asked this as satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The reaction may be also observed in another way e.g. facial expression or does the customer continue the use of the service. In some cases we may count happy customers and report this as NPS-value. NPS-value may be used to assess the performance of our service.

If we are not satisfied with the performance, we might start to analyze the service trying to find a better way to serve our customers. This might lead to new insight and knowledge what makes our customers happy in our business. Those who are faster to improve, innovate and learn take over the slow ones in the business.

br. Kai
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Nothing more frustrating as a customer when the "data" is wrong which highlights system failures? When the process goes wrong I sympathise with the employee ....must be using ERP!
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Same as everyone above - there is no process vs. data.

I'd argue though that data is much more important to get right, for two reasons:

1/ while process can be easily described in an customer interview (and adjusted afterwards if need be), data must be permanently acquired, validated, pruned, cleaned, queried, rendered etc. And in a world of bigger and bigger datasets, this is increasingly challenging.

2/ as we humans delegate more and more tasks (and, unfortunately, decisions) to machines, process will become increasingly abstracted into code (visual or not). But code can choke on the most trivial data error. So code will increasingly be focused in handling data accurately and efficiently, because it is a prerequisite for a machine job well done.
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
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