BPM Think Tank: Jim Sinur Keynote

Jim’s back at Gartner, and one of his first public presentations since his return was here at the opening keynote, talking about the economics of business process and how global competition leverages local benefits. He wrote this material before the past two weeks of financial market Armageddon, but it’s general enough that it works across a wide variety of economic climates: the rise of the East, extreme competition, and the need for greater productivity through working smarter, not harder.

He looked at how BPM delivers productivity at both a macro and micro level. At the macro level:

  • Looking at process helps understand current productivity rates on end-to-end processes
  • Projecting processes under new strategies helps understand where productivity might go
  • Implementing new policies/rules will guide how productivity will improve
  • Processes have to operate within business constraints and governance policies
  • Processes show that productivity-driven approaches are as important as market-based approaches

Processes occur across all boundaries, whether internal to an organization or across the firewall to partners, suppliers and customers.

At the micro level, BPM delivers productivity in a number of ways, as shown in a recent Gartner survey:

  • Improves process quality
  • Improves customer satisfaction
  • Engenders continuous process improvement
  • Reduces costs
  • Improves the customer experience
  • Improves business agility

Further down on the list was “supports moving to SOA”, something that’s stressed by the vendors but not considered so important (yet) to the customer organizations.

He showed that processes occur in multiple contexts, such that one person’s process is another person’s subprocess; this highlights the benefit of having a BPM center of excellence to encourage the development of reusable subprocesses.

There were additional results from that recent survey, such as the market penetration of BPM (38% of large organizations have it or are planning for it, although I take “planning for” numbers with a huge grain of salt), top five results (most BPM adopters experience those from the list above), funding (mostly from the business side), and amount of change (83% have significant change). There’s so much that isn’t said in this summary, however, such as the nature of the processes being implemented, and how the “significant change” is enacted.

Others in this industry will be interested (although maybe not pleased) to hear that Jim used the terms “human interaction management” and “BPM 2.0”, but with his own definitions.

Jim has a very friendly, folksy style, but I found his presentation a bit too meandering and unfocused, as well as light on new content.

As for the conference in general, there’s only 40 people in the room, which is a horrendously low turnout; I’ve heard that there are only 70 registered in total, including all the vendors who are just here to run their booth. That means that the 12 simultaneous roundtables coming up next will have at most 6 people each, and more likely 3-4 each (including the moderator), which may not be sufficient critical mass for a good discussion.

I think that Think Tank needs to return to a more standards-focused agenda, where people who are already involved in BPM can meet to exchange ideas on BPM standards and other deeper issues, rather than trying to put forward a more general, business-focused BPM conference that competes (and not very well at all) with other general BPM conferences such as Gartner, Brainstorm and IIR. I’m as much to blame for this as anyone, since I was on the program planning committee for Think Tank, but I wasn’t as involved in the agenda development as I should have been due to other commitments, and by the time that I noticed the direction it was taking, it was too late to do much other than fine-tuning.

There’s conference wifi in the meeting rooms but it requires a conference code that we don’t have (FAIL) but there’s more open wifi in the public areas of the hotel so I’ll be posting sporadically throughout the day when I get a chance to wander into a hot zone.

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