I wrote a paper last year with James Taylor on smarter mobile apps that leverage process and decision management technologies, and we’re giving a webinar on the topic next Tuesday, January 19, at 1pm ET. You can read James’ more detailed post on this, or just head over and sign up for the webinar. We will be releasing the paper after the webinar.
Appian was recently doing a round of road-show conferences, and when they landed in my backyard, I decided to stop in for the day and see what was new. I missed Appian World this year and was looking forward to a bit of a product update as well as some of the local customer stories.
The day started with Edward Hughes, SVP of sales, giving us a high-level overview of Appian and their BPM platform-as-a-service and case management products (for the non-customers in the audience), as well as their shift to becoming more of a broad application development platform rather than just a BPMS. I’ve been seeing this trend with many BPM vendors over the past few years, and Appian has been repositioning this way for a year or two already. Using Appian as an application development platform allows applications to be developed independently of the deployment platform, both on server side (e.g., develop on the cloud version, deploy on premise) and for client interfaces on desktops or mobile devices. The messaging is that you can use their platform to create customer service applications “beyond CRM” to handle the entire customer journey, with a unified interface plus a consolidated view onto enterprise data using their Records function. He also talked about the Appian App Market, which is an expanded version of their Appian Forum, containing add-in components and complete applications from Appian and third parties.
Since it was a small room, the local customers introduced themselves and talked about their Appian experience and applications: 407 ETR with 10 apps integrated with their customer portals so that online actions (e.g., acquiring a new transponder) become Appian processes assigned to the 125 internal users; Manulife, the first Appian cloud customer back in 2008, now migrating their “legacy” Appian apps to the Tempo UI and serving 900 users for work/time tracking and records management in Marketing; and IESO with apps to register and manage information about energy companies participating in electricity markets. We also heard from some of the partners attending: TCS, Princeton Blue, and boutique contender Bits In Glass with 15+ Appian-trained people in Canada and the US. Bits In Glass used to do mostly code-level (Java) bespoke development, and have reduced their efforts and timelines to 1/3 of that using Appian’s model-driven development.
Next up was Michael Beckley, describing his new role as Chief Customer Officer (as well as CTO) as well as giving us a product update on the 7.11 quarterly release. Appian is seeing corporate IT budgets as 20% innovation and 80% maintenance, but they want to flip that ratio so that maintenance is much less expensive than the original build, freeing up time and energy for innovation. Most large enterprises aren’t going to get rid of custom applications, but they do need to make them faster to build and maintain, while enforcing strict security and providing a user-friendly interface for internal and external users. In theory, an integrated application development such as Appian provides all the pieces:user interface, reports, rules, collaboration, process, on-premise cloud, mobile, social, data, content, security, identity, and integration; in practice, most organizations end up doing something outside the model-driven development environment, although it can definitely improve their custom development efforts. Appian’s focus, as with many of the other BPMS vendors pivoting to become app dev vendors, is on providing a platform to build process-centric applications that get things done via automation, with people injected into the process where required.
Beckley gave us a hint of their growth strategy: they tend to build rather than buy in order to keep their technology pure, and since growth by acquisition inevitably requires a large (and underestimated) effort to integrate the new technology.
Here’s a quick list of the Appian 7.11 updates (some of these likely came before 7.11, but I haven’t had an update for a while):
- Three UI styles for Appian apps: the Tempo social interface, Sites limited-function workspace/worklist for heads-down workers, and Embedded SAIL to embed Appian functionality within an existing portal for internal or external users. Sites have Action Forms for fit-for-purpose apps when a social feed UI isn’t appropriate, and Embedded SAIL has Action Forms for customer-facing apps within a third-party web portal. These latter two are critical for real-world enterprise applications: although I like the Tempo interface, many of my enterprise clients need a different sort of view for heads-down workers, which can be provided by Sites or using Embedded SAIL.
- A number of improvements to the Tempo news feed and UI, including the Tempo Kudos view to promote collaboration and provide awareness of accomplishments, dynamically-updating filters to better link and manage record data and underlying data sources
- Improvements to SAIL, including positioning it as a device-independent UI that provides shared model experience (rather than an HTML5 gateway into an existing app as seen in some other mobile-enablement technology) that is natively rendered on each device. The rendering engine can be updated independently of the applications, making it easier to adapt to new OS versions and devices. Appian uses SAIL to build their own components and apps that become part of the product. From a developer functionality standpoint, SAIL has added placeholder text and tooltips on forms, auto first field focus to reduce clicks and improve efficiency, additional image sizes that are auto-scaled to the device, initially-collapsed form sections, “submit” links that can be placed on a graphic element instead of standard buttons, links in milestones and pickers, grid enhancements, and continuing speed improvements. There’s also a new barcode component, although on iOS only and requiring a Verifone device for capture.
- Mobile offline actions use native encrypted data containers rather than HTML5 storage (some of this is iOS only although Android is planned for later this quarter), with the developer deciding which actions and data are available offline. Changes to the definition of a form while a user is offline will prompt the user to review and resubmit the form with the new/updated form field definitions, so application changes can continue even if there are active offline users. This does not (yet) allow existing records to be locked for offline updates, although tasks can be locked to user before going offline.
- For designers, the developer portal is being migrated to SAIL and enhanced with build processes; there’s a UI designer navigation tree to allow view/select/edit within a hierarchical tree view of an action form; the expression rule designer (“for those of you who are still writing expressions”, namely power developers) auto-suggests rule inputs and there is some level of expression rule testing; a process report designer can be used to create performance reports; impact analysis reports show where rules are invoked and other object relationships; bulk security updates can be made across objects.
- For administrators, a big new thing is LDAP/SAML authentication with multiple LDAP servers and complex configurations.
They have frequent product update webinars , free introductory courses and tips & tricks sessions online; in fact, there is a product update webinar tomorrow if you want to hear more about what I’ve listed above.
We heard from Rew Dickinson, a solutions consultant, on what makes a great app — complete with a live demo to show us how it’s done. There were a lot of best practices here that I won’t repeat, better for you to check out one of their webinars, but a few key pointers:
- Design applications to be omni-channel and easily adaptable.
- Use Records to organize and model corporate data, regardless of source, for use in an application; bidirectional links between Records and process instances allow for a full view whether you’re coming from the process or data side of things.
- Use Sites for fit-for-purpose applications, e.g., a worklist for heads-down task execution, as an alternative to full Tempo environment. Effectively, this is a report that can be sorted and filtered, with links to tasks that takes the user to the task form; it can include work management analytics for a manager/dispatcher user to monitor and reallocate task assignments. This made me think that Appian has just reinvented their per-application portal mode with Sites, albeit with better underlying technology, but that’s a discussion for another day.
- Use Embedded SAIL for customer-facing portal environments, e.g., create service request from a customer order page.
Michael Beckley came back to talk to us about Appian Cloud, that is, their public cloud offering. It uses Amazon AWS/EC2/S3 in a single-tenant architecture, which allows each environment to be upgraded independently — more of a managed hosting model. The web tier is shared and handled by Appian, who also manages servers, load balancing, high availability and upgrades. There can be a VPN tunnel to on-premise data, and in fact the AWS instance does not have to be available on the public internet, but can be restricted to access only through the VPN from a corporate location. This configuration provides the elasticity and availability of the Amazon cloud, but allows private data to remain on premise — something that goes a long ways to resolving geographic data location issues. They’ve obviously been working on the optics of US-owned data centers by listing their privacy chops, but it would have been even more reassuring to see a mention of any Canadian standards such as PIPEDA for this purely Canadian audience. There are tiers for development, medium, large and extra-large deployments, with a redeployment to move between tiers (so not that elastic…) but it supposedly only takes a few minutes if planned. Uptime this year is mostly 5 9’s, with customer credits for missed uptime SLAs. You can also self-host Appian in other environments, e.g., Azure, although the Appian Cloud SaaS offering is currently Amazon only.
We finished up with Mike Cichy, an Appian consultant, discussing their center of excellence offerings and how customers can plug into the vast wealth of information, from checklists to migration guides to training in order to embody best practices. There are a number of tools available such as the Appian Health Check and Deployment Automation in addition to these practices, with an overall goal to help achieve a large improvement in developer speed and quality within customer/partner organizations.
Altogether an informative day, and great catch up with some old friends.
June was a bit of a crazy month, with three conferences in a row (Orlando-London-DC) including two presentations at IRM’s BPM conference in London: a half-day workshop on the Future of Work, and a breakout session on Knowledge Work Incentives, which was a deep dive into one of the themes in the workshop. I put the slides for the breakout session up on the day of the presentation, but then went off for a couple of days of holidays in Brighton and completely forgot to post a link here:
Yesterday, I read a post on The Eloquent Women called In a world of #allmalepanels, can we share pics of #eloquentwomen?, which is a riff on the Congrats, you have an all male panel Tumblr. This has been going on a long time: I wrote about the problem at Toronto’s mesh conference starting in 2007, and then just stopped attending it.
The recent TEW post had me think about the opportunities that I’ve had to present at conferences all over the world, and I decided to take them up on their challenge and post some of the pictures and videos from me presenting in the past. First, a few videos in a variety of speaking styles:
Formal keynote: Appian World 2012 keynote
Interview: TIBCO BPM
Informal/ad hoc presentation: BPX Process Design Slam at SAP TechEd 2009
And some pictures taken and tweeted by audience members:
IRM BPM, the breakout session shown above, London 2015
Camunda BPMCon keynote, Berlin 2014
DST Advance, Phoenix 2015
University of Toronto panel on blogging, Toronto 2014
BPM Global Trends, Sao Paulo 2013
Social BPM Summer School, Como 2012
I speak primarily about technology and the impact that it has on business, and I’m recognized as an expert in my field, so I have to say that the common excuses for having no (paid) women speakers summarized here – no qualified women speakers; woman only speak about “women stuff” [wtf?]; women are more likely to say no to speaking; women are more likely to cancel – are patently untrue in my case, and likely in the case of most women speakers.
There are some shining examples of companies that put a lot of women – internal and external – on the stage at their conferences, and we need to see more of this in the future. Otherwise, you’re just ignoring half of the IQ available as speakers, and starting to alienate the attendees.
Yesterday, Denis Gagné demonstrated the modeling tools in the Trisotech Digital Enterprise Suite, and today he showed us the Digital Enterprise Graph, the semantic layer that underlies the modeling tools and allows for analysis of relationships between them. There are many stakeholders involved in defining and implementing a digital enterprise, including enterprise architects, business architects and process analysts; each of these roles has a different view on transformation of the enterprise and different goals for their work. He sees a need for a more emergent enterprise architecture rather than a structured top-down architecture effort: certainly, architects need to create the basic structure, but rather than trying to build out every artifact that might exist in the architecture before making use of it, a more pragmatic approach is for a “just-in-time” architecture that is a bit more self-organizing.
A graph, in general, is a powerful but simple contstruct: it consists only of nodes and links, but can provide meaningful connections of loosely-coupled business entities that can be easily modified. Think about a social graph, such as Facebook’s social graph: it’s just people and their connections, but it’s a rich context for analyzing the relationships between nodes (people) in the graph depending on the nature of the links (friends, likes, etc.) between them. Trisotech’s Digital Enterprise Graph links the who, what, when, where, why and how of an organization by mapping every model that is added to the Graph onto those types of nodes and links, whether the model originates with one of their own modelers (BPMN, CMMN, DMN) or an external EA modeling tool (Casewise, SAP PowerDesigner, Sparx). This provides an intelligent fabric for automated reasoning about the current relationships between parts of the organization, but also allows estimation of the impact of changes in one area on other parts of the organization. Their Insight Analyzer tool allows you to introspect the graph, providing views such as interconnectivity between nodes as part of impact analysis, or tracing responsibility for a capability up through the organizational structure. The analysis isn’t automated, but provides visualization tools for analysts and planners, based on a single integrated scheme that allows for straightforward queries.
He gave us a demo of the Graph in action, starting with a BPMN model that uses the Sparx EA accelerator for SOA architecture artifacts, and tracing through that loose coupling to the architectural components in the EA framework, with similar linkages for roles from a Casewise business architecture framework and definitions of contracts from the Financial Business Industry Ontology (FIBO). The idea is that the Graph provides an underlying mesh of semantic linkages from elements in a model to other frameworks, ontologies and models while still retaining business understandability at the model level. In the Insight Analyzer, we saw how to explore linkages between different types of elements, such as RACI-type relationships between roles and activities, as well as a more detailed introspection that allows drilling down on any node to see what other nodes and models that it is linked to, and traversing those links.
Interesting ideas about how to bring together all of the architecture, process, case and decision models and frameworks into a single graph for analysis of your digital enterprise.
Charles Webster gave a breakout session on wearable workflow, looking at some practical examples of combining wearables — smart glasses, watches and even socks — with enterprise processes, allowing people wearing these devices to have device events integrated directly into their work without having to break to consult a computer (or at least a device that self-identifies as a computer). Webster is a doctor, and has a lot of great case studies in healthcare, such as detecting when a healthcare worker hasn’t washed their hands before approaching a patient by instrumenting the soap dispenser and the worker. Interestingly, the technology for the hand hygiene project came from smart dog collars, and we’re now seeing devices such as Intel’s Curie that are making this much more accessible by combining sensors and connectivity as we commercialize the internet of things (IoT).
He was an early adopter of Google Glass, and talked to us about the experience of having a wearable integrated into his lifestyle, such as for voice-controlled email and photography, plus some of the ideas for Google Glass that he has for healthcare workflows where electronic health records (EHR) and other device information can be integrated with work patterns. Google Glass, however, was not a commercial success since it is too bulky and geeky-looking, as well as requiring frequent recharging if you’re using it a lot. It requires more miniaturization to be considered as a possibility for most people, but that’s a matter of time, and probably a short amount of time, especially if they’re integrated directly into eyeglass frames that likely have a lot of unused volume that could be filled with electronic components.
Webster talked about a university curriculum for healthcare technology and IoT that he designed, which would include the following courses:
- Wearable human factors and workflow ergonomics
- Data and process mining wearable data, since wearables generate so much more interesting data that needs to be analyzed and correlated
- Designing and prototyping wearable products
He is working on a prototype for a 3D-printed, Arduino-based wearable interactive robot, MrRIMP, intended to be used by pediatric healthcare professionals to amuse and distract their young patients during medical examinations and procedures. He showed us a video of a demo of he and MrRIMP interacting, and the different versions that he’s created. Great ideas about IoT, wearables and healthcare.
Second day at the BPM and Case Management summit in DC, and our morning keynote started with Jim Sinur — former Gartner BPM analyst — discussing opportunities in BPM and case management. He pointed out the proven benefits of process and case management, in terms of improving revenue, costs, time to market, innovation and visibility, while paving a path to digital transformation. However, these tried-and-true ROI measures aren’t just enough these days: we also need to consider customer loyalty, IoT, disruptive companies and business models, and in general, maintaining competitive differentiation in whatever way necessary to thrive in the emerging marketplace. In order to accommodate this, as well as attract good workers, it’s necessary to break the specialist mindset and allow people to become knowledge workers. I gave a workshop last week at the IRM BPM conference on the future of work, and I agree that this is a key part of it: more of the routine work is being automated, leaving the knowledge work for the people in the process; this requires a work environment that allows people to do the right thing at the right time to achieve a goal, not just work at a pre-defined task in a pre-defined way. Sinur cited a number of examples of processes that are leveraging emerging technologies, including knowledge workers’ workbenches that incorporate smart automated agents and predictive analytics; and IoT applications in healthcare and farming. The idea is to create goal-driven and proactive “smarming” processes that figure out on their own how to accomplish a goal through both human and automated intelligence, then assemble the resources to do it. Instead of pre-defining processes, you provide goals, constraints, analytics and contexts; the agents — including people, services, bots and sensors — create each process instance on the fly to best meet the situation. Although his case studies included a number of other technologies, he finished with a comment on how BPM and case management can be used to coordinate and orchestrate these processes as we move to a new world of digital transformation of the customer experience.
Next up was Tom Debevoise, now with Signavio to help promote their recently-released DMN modeler; we had a sneak peek of the DMN modeler at bpmNEXT. He talked about three levels of decisions — strategic (e.g., should we change our business model), tactical (e.g. which customers to target) and operational (e.g., which discount to apply to this transaction) — and how these tend to be embedded within process models and business application logic, rather than externalized into decision models where they can be explicitly managed. Most organizations manage their decisions very poorly, both human and automated, resulting in inconsistent or just plain wrong decisions being made. In other words, our business decisions are at the same point now as business processes were a decade or more ago, before BPM systems became widespread, and the path to improving this is to consider decision management as a discipline as well as the systems to model and automate decisions. We now have a decision modeling standard, DMN 1.0; this is expected to drive the adoption of decision modeling in organizations in the same way that BPMN did for process modeling. He proposed a decision management lifecycle similar to a BPM lifecycle, starting with decision discovery that allows modeling using the DMN-standard elements of a decision, input data, knowledge sources, information requirements, authority requirements and knowledge requirements. He wrapped up with the linkage between process and decision models, particularly using the Signavio BPMN and DMN modelers: how decisions that are defined external to a process can be used to assign process activity participants, decide on next steps, select the process pathway, define data access control, or detect and respond to events. We saw yesterday how Trisotech’s tools combine BPMN, CMMN and DMN, and today how Signavio combines BPMN and DMN; as more process modeling vendors expand to include decision modeling, we are going to see more implementations of these modeling standards integrated.
The last speaker in the keynote was Lloyd Dugan, on how business architecture and BPM work together, in response to a paper that he wrote last year with Neal McWhorter. Although dense (I recommend checking out the paper at the link), his presentation discussed some of the issues with reconciling business architecture and BPM, such as reconciling value stream, balanced scorecard and other BA models with activities within a process model. He reviewed a number of definitions and model types, cutting a wide swath through pretty much everything even remotely related to process and architecture, and highlighting some of the failures of mapping enterprise architecture frameworks to BPMN. He finished with a spectrum from business model perspectives (what the business is doing) to the operational model perspective (how the business is doing it), and how the business architecture versus BPM viewpoints differ, but can still both use BPMN as a modeling language. Pretty sure of two things from this: 1) I missed a lot of the detail 2) Dugan has never heard that you’re supposed to have less than 500 words on each PowerPoint slide.
Last session of day 1 of the BPM and Case Management Summit 2015 in DC, and Denis Gagne of Trisotech is up to talk about the three big standards: the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN), the Case Management Model & Notation, and the Decision Model & Notation. BPMN has been around for a few years and is well-established — pretty much every business process modeling and automation vendor uses BPMN in some form in their process modelers, and it is OMG’s most-adopted standard — but CMMN and DMN are much newer and less widespread in the market. There are a few vendors offering CMMN modelers and even fewer offering DMN. There are two major benefits to standards such as BPMN, CMMN and DMN, in addition to the obvious benefit of providing an unambiguous format for modeling processes, management and decisions: they can be used to create models that can be interchanged between different vendors’ products; and they provide a common and readily-transferable “language” that is learned by analysts. This interchangeability, both of models and skills, means that organizations don’t need to be quite so worried about which modeling tool that they use, or the people that they hire to use it. Denis was at the Model Interchange Working Group (MIWG) OMG meeting in Berlin last week, where they showed all types of interchange for BPMN; with luck, we’ll be seeing the same activities for the other standards as they become widely adopted.
There are some grey areas about when to use BPMN versus CMMN, since both are (sort of) process-based. However, the main focus in BPMN is on activities within processes, whereas CMMN focuses on events that impact cases. He showed a chart comparing different facets of the three standards:
|Token||Event Condition Action (ECA)||First Order Logic (FOL)|
The interesting part (at least to me) comes when we look at the bridges between these standards: in BPMN, there is a business rule task that can call a decision in DMN; in CMMN, there is a process task that can call a process defined in BPMN. Trisotech’s version of all of these modelers (not yet in the standards, but count on Denis to get them in there) also provides for a case task type in BPMN that can call a CMMN case, and a decision task in CMMN that can call a DMN decision. There are some patterns to watch for when modeling that might indicate that you should be using another model type:
- In BPMN, if you have a lot of gateways expressing business logic, then consider moving the gateway logic to DMN
- In BPMN, if you have a lot of events especially boundary events, then consider encapsulating that portion into a CMMN case
- In BPMN, if you have a lot of ad hoc subprocesses, then consider using CMMN to allow for greater specification of the ad hoc activities
- In CMMN, if you have a lot of task interdependencies, consider using BPMN to replace the temporal dependencies with flow diagrams
The recognition and refactoring of these patterns is pretty critical for using the right model type, and are likely a place where a more trained technical analytical eye might be able to suggest improvements to models created by a less-technical analyst who isn’t familiar with all of the model types or how to think about this sort of decomposition and linking.
He demonstrated integration between the three model types using the Trisotech BPMN, CMMN and DMN modelers, where a decision task in the BPMN modeler can link directly to a decision within a model in the DMN modeler, and a case task in BPMN can link directly to a case model in the CMMN modeler. Nice integration, although it remains to be seen what analyst skill level is required to be able to model across all three types, or how to coordinate different analysts who might be modeling in only one of the three model types each, where the different models are loosely coupled with different authors.
Disclosure: I’m doing some internal work with Trisotech, which means that I have quite a bit of knowledge about their products, although I have not been compensated in any way for writing about them here on my blog.
Amit Mayabhate from Fannie Mae (a US government-sponsored mortgage lender that buys mortgages from the banks and packages them for sale as securities) gave a session at the BPM and Case Management Summit on outcome-based process modeling for delivering business value. He had a few glitches getting started — apparently Fannie Mae doesn’t allow employees to download a presentation to their laptop, so he had to struggle through getting connected to the conference wifi and then the Fannie Mae VPN to open a PDF of his presentation — but did tell the best joke of the day when he was restarting his computer in front of us and said “now you know my password…it’s 8 dots in a row”.
Back on track, he discussed their business architecture efforts and how process modeling fits into it. Specifically, he talked about their multifamily housing division, which had its own outdated and inflexible technology platform that they wanted to change out for a simpler infrastructure that would give them better access to information for better decision-making. To get there, they decided to start with the best possible outcome in mind, but first had to have the organization understand not only that they had problems, but some quantification of how big those problems were in order to set those future goals. They identified several key metrics where they could compare today’s measurements with their desired future goals, such as operational efficiency (manual versus automated) and severability. To map from the current to future state, they needed a transformation roadmap and a framework for achieving the steps on the roadmap; this included mapping their journey to greater levels of process maturity, and creating a business capability model that included 17 capabilities, 65 functions, 262 sub-functions, and around 300 process flows.
Their business architecture transformation framework started with the business model (how do we make money), the operating model (how do we behave to make money) and the business capability model (what abilities are needed) using the Business Model Canvas framework. They used other architecture analysis tools, such as analyzing their operating model by plotting business process standardization against business process integration both for their current state and desired future state, to help them develop the strategy for moving between them. They used Mega’s business strategy module for most of the architecture analysis, which helps them identify business processes that are ripe for automation, then move to a BPMS for process modeling and automation. In that way, they can do just the process modeling that provides them with some architectural change that they know will provide value, rather than attempting to boil the ocean by modeling all processes in the organization.
I finished my visit to PegaWorld 2015 in the breakout session by Setrag Khoshafian, Pega’s chief BPM evangelist, on the top 10 trends for the adaptive digital enterprise:
- Context matters. Analyze and understand the information about your customers and your interactions with them.
- Connecting customers to operations. Think of your customers’ actions online as part of your business process, and implement your processes accordingly.
- The rise of things. Specifically, the process of things: devices becomes actors in sense-and-respond processes, and channels for customer engagement, across the seven levels of the IoT World Forum reference model.
- Design time blurs with runtime. Model-driven development, and moving from explicit requirements collection to having the business make changes on the fly.
- The digital executive. Making it so simple that even a C-level executive can understand it. Or better yet, finding executives that actually have a digital clue.
- Two-speed IT. Setrag talked about mapping business KPIs and value streams directly onto case phases; being able to do this using Agile model-driven development while still doing more traditional maintenance on underlying legacy systems allows for fast-tracking strategic projects.
- The database is dead, long live the database. Moving from transactional SQL-based RDBMS to the new crop of NoSQL databases optimized for big data, analytics and more dynamic applications.
- Smart enterprises avoid the app-pocolypse. Allow for native apps as well as responsive web for the most flexibility.
- The hybrid cloud. Well, that goes back to what we can really call “cloud”.
- The rise of design. Users expect beautiful design; if you don’t live up to those expectations, you degrade the customer experience and therefore your relationship with them.
He was joined by Adam Field from Pega’s technology innovation area to see some examples of what Pega is doing in mobile user experience and device management.
Fast-paced and fun view of what’s driving the digital enterprise, and a bit of how Pega is helping its customers meet those needs.
That’s it for PegaWorld 2015: it was a quick but information-filled trip. I’ll be at the IRM BPM conference in London next week, then the BPM and Case Management Summit in DC the week following, watch for my coverage from those events.
I attended a breakout presented by TD Bank (there was also a TCS presenter, since they’ve done the implementation) on their workflow system for customer maintenance requests – it’s a bit of a signal about the customer, and possibly the SI, that this is called “workflow” – and how they have implemented this using Pega. They started with PRPC 6.3 and there was no indication that they’ve upgraded to Pega 7, which would give them a whole raft of new functionality.
Customer maintenance requests include any non-financial transaction that a customer may request, such as an address change, which may be fulfilled either manually, semi-automatically, or automated based on Pega business rules. They’re measuring the ROI primarily in terms of improving efficiency (increased throughput, reduced processing time, reduced paper) and improving quality and regulatory compliance (reconciliation of work received and processed, data capture validation, identification of trends, better reporting to compliance). He did mention the improved customer experience, although mostly in terms of the call center/branch staff rather than the actual customer, but turned that back to branch efficiency and productivity. There was a mention that this would result in lower wait times for customers while they were in the branch making the request, but this is so far out of touch with the realities of customer experience these days, as evidenced by the keynote that we saw this morning with AIG and RBS. This was (I think) a technical presenter from TCS going through this part, but depressing in the lack of awareness of how far they are from understanding the customer journey. This is one of the dangers in treating internal stakeholders as the customer rather than having an awareness of the actual customer and their requirements: the internal operations customer is mostly motivated by improving efficiency and compliance, not making sure that their real customer isn’t walking out the door and goes to a bank that pays attention to their needs. We can’t throw away the concepts of efficiency and compliance, but I find in dealing with my banks (yes, more than one, because none of them give me everything that I need) that there are still too many processes that require my presence in a branch, a physical signed document or a call to a call center, when they have already authenticated me in so many ways online already.
They talked about their development process and some of the best practices and lessons learned: allowing time for visual screen mockups during inception in order to reduce rework later (they seriously didn’t know that?), participation from other groups such as application integration (?!), and including a Pega deployment architect to make sure that things get into production the right way. TD Bank has been using Pega for about eight years, and they seem to be rooted in older versions and older development methodologies. Definitely in need of some digital transformation.
I didn’t attend this session with the goal of poking fun at TD or TCS, but this is really an example of old-school (probably waterfall) development methods that is not going to give them big wins in the long run. It’s clear that there is very deep integration with their other systems, and a lot of use of the Pega CPM framework and rules, but also that there has been a lot of custom work here: PRPC used as an application development tool. This is pretty typical of what I have seen with Pega customers in the past, although their recent shift to providing applications rather than frameworks is an obvious strategy to move to less-customized solutions that can be deployed faster. For the customers still plugging away on 6.x, that might be more of a dream than reality.