Gartner Day 1: Simon Hayward keynote

1100 attendees have signed up for this Gartner BPM summit (although I imagine that some are still stuck trying to get here), not bad for only their third year at it. They’re going to run another BPM summit in Orlando in September due to the popularity; maybe I’ll get organized in time to sign up for that before the last minute.

This first “real” day of the conference kicked off with a short intro by Michael Melenovsky and Jim Sinur, who gave an overview of what to expect at the conference: business process strategy and governance in addition to the technology side, which this year includes more of the peripheral technologies such as business rules. Sinur mentions Web 2.0 and collaboration (although he calls it “web two-dot-zero”) and the importance of what’s happening here, something that I’ve been writing and speaking about for months.

The, Simon Hayward with his keynote Business Processes: The Foundation Linking Business and IT. I really enjoyed his keynote last year, so was looking forward to this year’s presentation: he’s like the Energizer Bunny of BPM, and I mean that in the best way possible. He started with the question “what’s special about this moment in time that makes BPM so relevant?”, which is the same theme that he started with last year, and I think that I even remember some of the same slides being used. He discussed the trend from quality (1980’s) to BPR (1990’s) to BPM (2000’s).

He moved to his “key issues” slide (a.k.a. the presentation agenda), and saw the first point: BPM – what does it mean as a management discipline. It struck me then that “discipline” is an fundamental concept in Gartner’s definition of BP as management practice/discipline: that’s what all the discipline business was about yesterday in Rosser’s presentation.

Hayward continued on with concepts of shifting business values and strategies, and how today’s success is taken as a given and future success has to improve on that: the whole idea of continuous process improvement. That requires that we build systems knowing that they’re going to change, a whole new idea for many organizations that tend to build something and cast it in concrete. The focus of software has to shift to enabling business process innovation, whereas many organizations see the current role of software as hindering rather than helping their business agility. He talked about the emergence of SaaS in process-related activities, and how valuable this is for inter-organization commerce.

He moved on to how people are involved in processes (I’m constantly amazed by how Hayward can give an entire subject talk based on a single slide: many of these slides are loosely related and could be expanded into a separate presentation on their own); as he discusses how the goal of BPM should shift from managing the end-to-end process cycle to enabling process innovation, he brings in the idea of how it also must shift to provide greater empowerment to the people involved in the process. He predicts that by 2012, the value of productivity will become less important than that of visibility, and by 2017, innovation will take over as the key value.

He shows the process improvement cycle that I’ve seen many times before from Gartner, with one interesting addition: a “discovery” task as an entry point into the cycle prior to modelling. Discovery is exactly where Lombardi is positioning Blueprint, for example, but it’s not even on the radar of many BPM vendors.

This all leads up to a discussion of the advantages of being a business-centric organization, what this actually means, and why the enabling technology really matters in terms of decoupling the understanding of the process from the mechanisms that are used to support it, hence providing greater agility, immediacy and visibility, as well as being a foundation for SOA. Whether the technology comes out of the convergence that is the BPMS market, or enterprise applications opened up for integration, the same results can be achieved (a similar point that Marc Kerremans made yesterday).

My favourite point that he made comes near the end of the presentation: “BPM is top-down…and BPM is bottom-up”. That’s exactly right, and exactly what many people don’t understand: it could be either, or it could be both. Although Rosser tried to make the same point yesterday, Hayward actually ties it to BPM and the value of being a process-centric organization, which makes all the difference.

His closing recommendations covered competency actions (what type of people to have), management actions (governance; centre of excellence; management culture) and IT management (IT as enabler, not leader; links between BPM and other technologies), as well as a great closing quote: “If you focus on what stays the same, then you’ll get left behind.”

Decisions get tough from here: there are multiple sessions that I want to attend, although I have a half hour to think about it while we mill around waiting for them to reconfigure the ballroom into smaller rooms.

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