BPMN, CMMN and DMN with @denisgagne at BPMCM15

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:

Processes Cases Decisions
Activities Events Rules
Transitional Contextual Applied
Data Information Knowledge
Procedural Declarative Functional
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.

Fannie Mae Case Study on Effective Process Modeling at BPMCM15

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.

PCM Requirements Linking Capability Taxonomy and Process Hierarchy at BPMCM15

I’m in Washington DC for a couple of days at the BPM and Case Management Summit; I missed this last year because I was at the IRM BPM conference in London, and in fact I was home from IRM less than 36 hours this weekend before I got back on a plane to head down to DC this morning.

I’m in a breakout session to hear John Matthias from the Court Consulting Services of the National Center for State Courts, who focuses on developing requirements for court case management systems. As might be expected, the usual method for courts to acquire their case management systems is to just pick the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software from the leading packaged solution vendor, then customize it to suit. Except in general, the leading vendor’s software doesn’t meet the current needs of courts’ case workers and court clerks, and Matthias is trying to rework the best practices to create definitive links and traceability between requirements, processes and the business capabilities taxonomy.

As he noted, justice case management is a prime example of production case management (PCM), wherein there are well-worn paths and complicated scenarios; multiple agents are involved (court and clerks, prosecution, public defender) and the specific order of activities is not always pre-defined, so the key role of the PCM system is to track and respond to state changes in the system of record. There are, however, some points at which there are very specific rules of procedure and deadlines, including actions that need to be taken in the event of missed deadlines. The problem comes with the inflexibility of the existing COTS justice case management software available in the market: regardless of how much study and customization is done at the time of original installation (or, perhaps, in spite of it), the needs change over time and there is no way for the courts to make adjustments to how the customized COTS package behaves.

To address the issue of requirements, Matthias has developed a taxonomy of business capabilities: a tree structure that breaks each business capability down to increasing specialized capabilities that can be mapped to the capability’s constituent requirements. He’s also looked at a process hierarchy, where process stages break down to process groups, and then to elementary processes. This process hierarchy is necessary for organization of the processes, particularly when it comes to reusability across various case types. Process groups show hand-offs between workers on a case, while the elementary processes are the low-level workflows that may be able to be fully automated, or at least represent atomic tasks performed by workers. The elementary processes are definitely designed to be reusable, so that a process such as “Issue Warrant” can be related to a variety of business capabilities. Managing the relationships between requirements gets complex fast, and they’re looking at requirements management software that allows them to establish relationships between business capabilities, business rules, processes, system requirements and more, then understand traceability when there is a change to one component.

Unlike systems with completely pre-defined processes, the requirements for PCM systems need to have the right degree of granularity (not too much to overconstrain the workers, and not too little to provide insufficient guidance), have performance measurement built in, and link to systems of record to provide state awareness and enable process automation. The goal is to achieve some amount of process discipline and standardization while will allowing variations in how the case managers operate: provide guidance, but allow for flexible selection of actions. Besides that ability to provide guidance without overconstraining, developing requirements for a PCM isn’t that much different from other enterprise systems: consider the future state, build to change, and understand the limits of the system’s configurability. I would also argue that requirements for any user-facing systems shouldn’t be done using a waterfall methodology where complete detailed requirements are necessary before implementation, but rather a more Agile approach where we collect the high level requirements, then enough detailed requirements to get you to your first implementation in an iterative development cycle. At which time all of the requirements will change anyway.

Top 10 Trends of Digital Enterprise with @setrag at PegaWorld 2015

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:

  1. Context matters. Analyze and understand the information about your customers and your interactions with them.
  2. Connecting customers to operations. Think of your customers’ actions online as part of your business process, and implement your processes accordingly.
  3. 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.
  4. Design time blurs with runtime. Model-driven development, and moving from explicit requirements collection to having the business make changes on the fly.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Smart enterprises avoid the app-pocolypse. Allow for native apps as well as responsive web for the most flexibility.
  9. The hybrid cloud. Well, that goes back to what we can really call “cloud”.
  10. 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.

The Personology of @RBSGroup at PegaWorld 2015

IMG_7261Andrew McMullan, director of analytics and decisioning (aka “personologist”) at Royal Bank of Scotland, gave a presentation on how they are building a central (Pega-based) decisioning capability to improve customer engagement and change their culture along the way. He started with a personal anecdote about how RBS did the right thing for a family member and gained a customer for life – a theme echoed from this morning’s keynote that also included RBS.  He showed a short video of their current vision, which stated goals of making RBS easier to do business with, and to work for, in addition to being more efficient. In that order, in case you other banks are following along.

RBS is now government owned, having been bailed out during the financial crisis; I’m not sure how much this has allowed them to focus on customer engagement rather than short-term profits, but they do seem to be talking the right talk.

RBS uses Pega’s Chordiant – primarily the decision management components, if I am reading it correctly – although are implementing Pega 7 for an August 2015 rollout to bring in more robust Next Best Action capabilities; they also use SAS Visual Analytics for reporting. This highlights the huge role of decisioning as well as process in customer engagement, especially when you’re applying analytics to a broad variety of customer information in order to determine how to interact with the customer (online or IRL) at any particular moment. RBS is proactive about having their customers do things that will save them money, such as renewing a mortgage at a lower rate, or choosing a package of banking services that doesn’t overlap with other services that they are paying for elsewhere. Contrary to what nay-sayers within RBS said about lost revenue, this tends to make customers more loyal and ultimately do more business with them.

There was a good question from the audience about how much of this was changes to organizational culture, and how much was the data science: McMullan said that it’s really critical to win the hearts and minds of the employees, although obviously you need to have at least the beginnings of the analytics and recommendations to get that started. Also, they use Net Promoter Score as their main internal metric, which tends to reward relationship-building over short-term profits; having the right incentives for employees goes a long ways towards helping them to do the right thing.

TD Bank at PegaWorld 2015

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.

PegaWorld 2015 Day 2 Customer Keynotes: Big Data and Analytics at AIG and RBS

After the futurist view of Brian Solis, we had a bit more down-to-earth views from two Pega customers, starting with Bob Noddin from AIG Japan on how to turn information that they have about customers into an opportunity to do something expected and good. Insurance companies have the potential to help their customers to reduce risk, and therefore insurance claims: they have a lot of information about general trends in risk reduction (e.g., tell an older customer that if they have a dog and walk it regularly, they will stay healthier and live longer) as well as customer-specific actions (e.g., suggest a different route for someone to drive to work in order to reduce likelihood of accident, based on where they live and work, and the accident rates for the roads in between). This is not a zero-sum game: fewer claims is good for both AIG and the customers. Noddin was obviously paying close attention to Solis, since he wove elements of that into his presentation in how they are engaging customers in the way that the customer chooses, and have reworked their customer experience – and their employee and agent experience – with  that in mind.

Between the two customers, we heard from Rob Walker, VP of Decision Management and Analytics at Pega, about the always-on customer brain and strategies for engaging with them:

  • Know your customer: collect and analyze their data, then put it in the context of their entire customer journey
  • Reach your customer: break down the silos between different channels, and also between inbound and outbound communications, to form a single coherent conversation
  • Delight your customer: target their needs and wants based on what you know about them, using the channels through which you know that they can be reached.

He discussed how to use Pega solutions to achieve this through data, analytics and decisioning; obviously, the principles are universal.

Chrome Legacy Window 2015-06-09 103539 AM.bmpThe second customer on stage was Christian Nelissen from Royal Bank of Scotland, who I also saw yesterday (but didn’t blog about) on the big data panel. RBS has a good culture of knowing their customer from their roots as a smaller, more localized bank: instead of the branch manager knowing every customer personally, however, they now rely on data about customers to create 1:1 personalize experiences based on predictive and adaptive analytics in the ever-changing context of the customer. He talked about the three pillars of their approach:

  • It’s about the conversation. If you focus on doing the right thing for the customer, not always explicit selling to them, you build the relationship for the long term.
  • One customer, one bank. A customer may have products in different bank divisions, such as retail banking, credit cards and small business banking, and you need to be cognizant of their complete relationship with the bank and avoid internal turf wars.
  • You can do a lot with a little. Data collection and analytics technologies have become increasingly cheaper, allowing you to start small and learn a lot before expanding your customer analytics program.

Alan Trefler closed out the keynote before sending us off to the rest of the day of breakout sessions. Next years, PegaWorld is in Las Vegas; not my favorite place, but I’ll be back for the quality of the presentations and interactions here.

These two keynotes this morning have been great to listen to, and also closely aligned with the future of work workshop that I’m doing at IRM BPM in London next week, as well as the session on changing incentives for knowledge workers. Always good when the planets align.

PegaWORLD 2015 Keynote with @BrianSolis: Innovate or Die!

Brian Solis from Altimeter  Group was the starting keynote, talking about disruptive technology and how businesses can undergo digital transformation. One of the issues with companies and change is that executives don’t live the way the rest of us do, and have to think of the shareholders first, but may not have sufficient insight into how changing customer attitudes and the supporting technology will impact their profitability, or even their ability to survive. “A Kodak moment” is now about how you go bankrupt when you ignore disruptive technology: not something that you want to capture for posterity.

Digital Darwinism

Customer experience can just happen by accident, or it can be something that we design in order to achieve a “higher purpose” of being customer centric. That doesn’t mean that we have complete control over that customer experience any more, since our brands are made up of what we put out there, and what other people say about us. Customer experience is not about what we say, but about what we do, since that’s what will be examined under the social media microscope. Altimeter’s research shows that almost all companies undergoing their digital transformation specifically because of customer experience, but that few of them really understand what the problem is. 67% of buyers’ customer journey is now done online, consulting 11 different sources for information even if they purchase IRL, and your online customer experience is the difference between surviving or not. Part of this is omni-channel presence, since almost none of those pre-buying search journeys happen on a single device. You can’t force customers to do business your way: you have to do it their way. And in order to do it their way, you have to understand what that is (that sounds kind of obvious, but may companies don’t get that). You have to think through the eyes of your customers: as Solis said, “Think like a customer. Act like a startup.”

Innovate or Die

Solis’ message, in short: if you don’t disrupt yourself, someone else will do it for you. Innovate or die.

Pega 7 Express at PegaWORLD 2015

img-pega-7-express-ui-snippetAdam Kenney and Dennis Grady of Pega gave us the first look at Pega 7 Express: a new tool for building apps on top of the Pega infrastructure to allow Pega to push into the low-code end of the BPM/ACM market. In part, this is likely driven by the somewhat high degree of technical skill that has traditionally been required to create applications using Pega, but also by the fact that customer experience is becoming a key differentiator, creating the need to create good customer-facing applications faster. Customer experience, of course, is much more than just the type of apps that you’re going to create using Pega 7 Express: it’s new devices and methods of interaction, but all of these are setting the bar high and changing customer expectations for how they should be able to deal with vendors of goods and services. Pega 7 Express is part of the Pega 7 platform, using the same underlying infrastructure: it’s (just) a simpler authoring experience that requires little or no advance training.

We saw an introductory video, then a live demo. It includes graphical data modeling, form building and case configuration, all with multi-device support.

IMG_7234Call it end-user computer (EUC), citizen computing or low-code model-driven development, Express is addressing the problem area of applications that were traditionally built using email, spreadsheets and local desktop databases (I’m looking at you, Excel and Access). I’m not going to enumerate the problems with building apps like these; suffice it to say that Express allows you to leverage your existing Pega infrastructure while allowing non-Java developers to build applications. They even include some badges for gamifying achievements – when you build your first app, or personalize your dashboard. Just-in-time learning is integrated so that you can see an instructional video or read the help as you need it, plus in-context guidance while you’re working.

IMG_7236In the demo, we created a new case-based app by specifying the following:

  • Application name, description and logo
  • Case type
  • Major phases (a straight-through process view)
  • Steps in each phase
  • Form design for specific steps – the data model is created behind the scenes from the form fields
  • Routing/assignment to reviewers and approvers
  • Milestones and deadlines
  • Device support

In part, this looks a lot like their Directly Capturing Objectives tools, but with more tools to create an actual executable app rather than just as input to the more technical Designer Studio development environment. We also saw customizing the dashboard, which was a pretty standard portal configuration.

IMG_7237As with any good Pega demo, however, Kenney went off-screen to “create a little data table” while Grady showed us the graphical form/case builder; they are definitely the masters of “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” during demos, where one person does the user-friendly stuff on-screen, while a couple of others do a bit of heavy lifting in the background. Lucky for us (unlikely for Kenney), he couldn’t connect to the wifi so we did get to see the data table definition, which was straightforward.

IMG_7239This does look like a pretty usable low-code application development environment. Like any other low-code model driven development, however, it’s not really for complete non-techies: you need to understand data types, how to design a form, the concept of linking case types and separately-defined data types, and how to decompose a case into phases and steps. It wasn’t clear from the brief demo how this would interact with any sort of expected case automation or other parts of the underlying Pega infrastructure: predictions, automated steps/service calls, more complex process flow or temporal dependencies, access control, etc. It’s also unclear any sort of migration path from Express to the full Designer Studio, so that this could be used as an operational prototyping tool for more complex development. They did respond to a question about reporting; there is some out of the box, and they will be adding more as well as adding ad hoc

Pega 7 Express was announced today, with the cloud version available starting today, with a 30-day free trial followed by subscription pricing; when Pega 7.19 rolls out to on-premise installations, it will also offer Express. They’re not really pushing it yet, but will start to roll out the marketing around it in Q3.

PegaWORLD 2015 Keynote: CRM Evolved and Pega 7 Express

Orlando in June? Check. Overloaded wifi? Check. Loud live band at 8am? Check. I must be at PegaWORLD 2015!

Alan Trefler kicked off the first day (after the band) by looking at the new world of customer engagement, and how both organizations and the supporting technology need to change to support this. He took a direct hit at the silos of old-school companies such as traditional financial services (“What *is* a middle office, anyway?”, a question that I’ve often asked), and how many applications and platforms fail to move them beyond that model: conforming (to how an application works out of the box) versus strategic (mix your own DNA into the software). Like many other vendors in this space who are repositioning as process-centric application development platforms, the term BPM (business process management) didn’t come up; Pega is repositioning as “CRM Evolved”. To be fair, Pega has always had a strong CRM (customer relationship management) bias, but it looks like they’re rebranding the entire business of their customers as CRM, from sales and onboarding through support and back into operations. This includes anticipating and operationalizing customer actions, so that you can respond to a potential problem before it ever occurs, and moving from conforming to strategic software in order to allow you to evolve quickly to meet those needs. He warned against implementing the Frankenstack, pieced together from “dead software products”, and decried the term BPM in favor of case management as how customer engagement and operations need to work, although arguably there is a lot of what we think of a traditional BPM implemented as part of Pega’s customers’ solutions.

We’re definitely seeing the BPM market (broadly defined to include dynamic and ad hoc process management including case management) bifurcating into the application development platforms such as Pega, and the more out-of-the-box, low-code process platforms. BPM is really much beyond just process management, of course: many of these platforms include mobile, social, IoT, analytics, big data and all of the other popular features that are being built into almost all enterprise applications. Trefler talked about Pega 7 Express – I’ll be going to a session on that after the keynote – which is a simpler user experience for application development. Having seen their more complex user experience in a few client projects, this is definitely needed to cut through the complexity in order to address the end-user computing/citizen computing needs. In other words, although they are primarily in the heavy-duty application development space, they also realize that they can’t ignore the “low end” of the market if they want to achieve greater awareness and penetration in their customer environments beyond the IT development group.

Trefler also talked about Pega’s vertical industry applications, and we heard from Dr. Mark Boxer from Cigna Healthcare. He discussed how they use Pega’s Smart Claims App, although we mostly saw a lot of futuristic videos of what healthcare could be like, including big data and gamification. Plus Apollo 13. It’s not clear how much of this that Cigna has implemented (presumably they are not working on the moon shot) although I know that some US healthcare companies are reducing premiums for customers who use wearables to monitor their health since it allows for early problem detection.

Don Schuerman, Pega’s CTO and VP of Product Marketing, took the stage to talk about their technology, with a big focus on strategic applications rather than the platform itself – Trefler did make a comment earlier about how their marketing used to be really bad, and I think that someone told them that applications show better than platforms – plus their cloud infrastructure. He was joined by Jim Smith, CIO of the State of Maine, who was not afraid to talk about BPM: he sees BPM plus agile plus legacy system modernization as the cornerstones of their enterprise strategy, underpinned by a cloud platform for speed and security. He showed some pictures of their filing cabinets, pending files in paper folders and other paper-based inefficiencies; it’s interesting to see that there is still so much of their digital transformation – and that of many other organizations that I work with – that is relying on getting paper into digital form, either natively (i.e., online forms replacing paper ones) or through image and data capture.

Brian Matsubara, head of Global Technology Alliances at Amazon, talked briefly about their Amazon Web Services offerings, and their partnership with Pega to create the Pega Cloud on which Pega 7 Express and other products are domiciled. I don’t need to be sold on cloud in general or AWS in particular since I trust critical business data to AWS, but there are still a lot of skittish organizations who think that their own data centers are better, faster, cheaper and more secure than AWS. (Hint: they’re not.) I just finished up the materials for a workshop that I’m giving in London next week on the Future of Work, and I agree with what Matsubara said about (public) cloud: it’s not just cheaper infrastructure, it provides ways of doing business that just weren’t possible before, especially consumer mobile and external collaboration applications. Schuerman stressed at the end that they need to help their customers make cloud strategic:

The keynote finished with Kerim Akgonul, SVP of Products, who discussed changing customer attitudes: customers now expect more, and will quickly make their displeasure public when the experience is less than awesome. He talked about their suite of applications – Marketing, Sales Automation, Customer Service, and Operations – and how decision-based Next Best Action predictions and recommendations are an underlying feature that drives all of them. The Pega Marketing application brings tools to help improve customer engagement, including next best action and 1:1 targeted marketing. Their Sales Automation application offers guided selling through the end-to-end sales process. Their Customer Service application uses case management paradigms and next best actions for guided customer conversations, while interacting with social media and other channels. Akgonul is always willing to participate in the on-stage highjinks: last year, it was a wild motorcycle ride, and this year it’s a wellness app on an iWatch and iPhone that tied in with a customer service agent’s screen, with some assistance from his colleagues David Wells and Don Schuerman. Fun, and drove home the point about how these technologies can be used to improve customer engagement: mobile, omni-channel, next best action, gamification and more. He wrapped up with a more serious, if somewhat breathless, look at some of the newer features, including offline mobile apps that can synchronize data later, pattern detection in real-time streaming data such as dropped calls, dashboard personalization, and the new Pega 7 Express lightweight application builder.