Phil Gilbert On The Next Decade Of BPM

I missed Phil’s keynote at BPM 2010 in Hoboken a few weeks ago (although Keith Swenson very capably blogged it), so I was glad to be able to catch it here at the Forrester BP&AD forum. His verdict: the next decade of BPM will be social, visible and turbulent.

Over the past 40-50 years, the hard-core developers have become highly leveraged such that one developer can support about five other IT types, which in turn support 240 business end users. Most of the tools to build business technology, however, are focused on those 6 people on the technical side rather than the 240 business people. One way to change this is to allow for self-selected collaboration and listening: allowing anyone to “follow” whoever or whatever that they’re interested in to create a stream of information that is customized to their needs and interests.

Earlier today, I received an email about IBM’s new announcement on IBM Blueworks Live, and Phil talked about how it incorporates this idea of stream communication to allow you to both post and follow information. It will include information from a variety of sources, such as BPM-related Twitter hashtags and links to information written by BPM thought leaders. Launching on November 20th, Blueworks Live will include both the current BPM BlueWorks site as well as the IBM BluePrint cloud-based process modeling capability. From their announcement email that went out to current Blueprint users:

The new version will be called IBM Blueworks Live and you’ll be automatically upgraded to it.  Just like in past releases, all your process data and account settings are preserved. All of the great Blueprint features you use today will be there, plus some new capabilities that I think you’ll be very excited to use.

Blueworks Live will allow your team to not only collaborate on daily tasks, but also gain visibility into the status of your work. You’ll be able to automate processes that you run over e-mail today using the new checklist and approval Process App templates. Plus, you’ll have real-time access to expert online business process communities right on your desktop, so you can participate in the conversation, share best practices, or ask questions.

It’s good to see IBM consolidating these social BPM efforts; the roadmap for doing this wasn’t really clear before this, but now we’re seeing the IBM Blueworks community coming together with the Lombardi Blueprint tools. I’m sure that there will still be some glitches in integration, but this is a good first step. Also, Phil told me in the hallway before the session that he’s been made VP of BPM at IBM, with both product management and development oversight, which is a good move in general and likely required to keep a high-powered individual like Phil engaged.

With the announcement out of the way, he moved on with some of the same material from his BPM 2010 talk: a specific large multi-national organization has highly repeatable processes representing about 2.5% of their work, somewhat repeatable processes are 22.5%, while barely repeatable processes form the remaining 75%, and are mostly implemented with tools like Excel over email. Getting back to the issue from the beginning of the presentation, we need to have more and better tooling for those 75% of the processes that impact many more people than the highly repeatable processes that we’re spending so much time and money implementing.

With Blueworks Live, of course, you can automate these long tail processes in a matter of seconds 😉 but I think that the big news here is the social stream generated by these processes rather than the ease of creating the processes, which mostly already existed in Blueprint. Instant visibility through activity streams.

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