Gartner BPM: Opening Keynote

I arrived a bit late, transferring from the Ritz out in Tysons Corner down to the Gaylord in National Harbor (which Google Maps still thinks is a construction site), but caught the last half of the opening keynote with Janelle Hill and Michelle Cantera.

They started with some of the forces affecting business, both business and technology. Technology forces of change include having to balance enterprise-class and global-class computing, by which it appears that they mean custom, heavy-duty, special-purpose applications versus mass consumer applications: she makes the analogy between a custom, craftsman-made desk for the Oval Office versus an Ikea desk for the rest of us. Business forces of change include globalization, regulatory oversight, the evolution of the workforce (this is sort of a rerun of Connie Moore’s message of yesterday), and the complex value chains created by collaborative enterprises.

Since we’re here to talk about BPM, the next part was on how BPM helps us to cope with these forces of change. Their current BPM definition includes management practices, a structured approach using the management practices and software tools, and a cultural transformation (this last one is new in their definition, and long overdue). Overall, BPM is a set of disciplines plus technologies; it both encourages and enables continuous change in response to external forces, with a focus on optimizing end-to-end processes rather than specific functions. A key part of the approach is iterative (not phased), time-boxed, agile delivery, which I agree is critical but rarely see in practice.

BPM is being used heavily by companies that need to cope with frequent process change, usually in their customer-facing processes: from changes several times a year down to weekly or even daily frequency, plus ad hoc changes to executing process instances. What you need to think about, then, is how BPM changes your planning practices: Gartner suggests planning on shorter cycles and making plans dynamic and more transparent, with explicit guidelines for business outcomes rather than an explicit path by which those outcomes are reached. BPM also changes your organization and leadership by empowering employees (that’s a bit of a tired expression) and encouraging more fluid, virtual teams. It’s not clear that BPM is the real contributor here, however: I have the sense that they could take this same slide and present it at a number of different technology conferences (e.g., Enterprise 2.0) without changing anything but the title.

To use BPM effectively, you have to take advantage of monitoring and optimization, which is hopefully built into your BPM solution. This allows for better alignment of goals, metrics and results.

They finished up with a discussion of the skills and competencies required to build a BPM center of excellence (or as Gartner calls it, a center of competence), and a flying tour of their business process adoption and maturity model. Surprisingly, this tag-team presentation went way over time, not a good start for the day.

Not much new and exciting here — pretty much what you expect from a keynote — but a good overview of BPM in the context of business for the newbies in the crowd.

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