Catch me on a @SoftwareAG webinar next week talking about operational excellence

With so many cancelled conferences and people working from home, this is a great time to tune up your skills through online courses and webinars. I’ll be presenting with Eric Roovers, business transformation leader at Software AG, on a webinar about operational excellence next Wednesday, April 1, at 10:00 Eastern (16:00 in Central Europe, 07:00 Pacific).

We are doing this as a conversation rather than a presentation, so be prepared for Eric and I to riff on our opinions about the key issues today in achieving and maintaining operational excellence. This is the first of a series of webinars that Software AG will be hosting on operational excellence, although the only one where I’ll be speaking.

The webinar is sponsored by Software AG, and you’ll need to register at the link above. If you can’t make it at that time, go ahead and register and you’ll be sent a link to the on-demand version later.

Snap! @Celonis offers free process mining in the cloud

I attended a webinar today where Celonis showed Snap, the new free tier of their cloud-based process mining platform. It can work with flat files (CSV) or manually connect to ServiceNow, Google Sheets and a few other data sources directly, plus it supports teams for collaboration. You’re limited to uploading 500MB of data (which is a lot of records you’re uploading just case ID, activity name, resource, start and end time), and there’s no continuous data integration for event collection the way there is with their full-blown IBC Enterprise version; additionally, several functions from the main product are visible but not enabled. However, if you want to dip your toe into process mining with real-sized datasets, this is a good choice.

The process mining functionality is similar to what you see with competitive products, plus some nice dashboard capabilities for visualizing not just the overall discovered process flow, but for drilling into problem areas to do root cause analysis.

You can sign up for a free Celonis Snap account on their website. It self-deploys within a couple of minutes, creating a team account and setting you up as the admin, with the ability to add other users to the team. It doesn’t support everything in the paid platform, but definitely a good way to get started with process mining. There’s also an online community to ask (and answer) questions.

They are also offering free online training (not sure if that’s just now or if they will do this on an ongoing basis) that covers their full paid product suite; if you’re using Snap, the parts of the training related to process discovery and analysis will be relevant. They are launching free Snap-specific training next week, and adding new features to the product such as connectors to SAP Ariba. Obviously, they’d like to leverage free accounts into paid accounts, but this is more than just a 30-day trial or non-functional demo account; you can do some real work with the free version and move to the paid version when your data or processing needs exceed that.

My new post on the @Trisotech blog: the case for a business automation center of excellence

I’m doing a series of posts on the Trisotech blog, and this month I’m digging into the concept of a broader center of excellence (CoE) around business automation because I’ve seen a lot of problems when CoEs are implemented around a specific methodology, technology or tool, e.g., a BPM CoE, or even worse, a [insert vendor name here] BPMS CoE.

In addition to my consulting practice, where I see CoEs in practice and help organizations to create them, I work with a lot of vendors. I included a diagram of how most vendors see themselves relative to their market:

Head on over to the Trisotech blog to read the entire article.

Tune in on March 10 for my webinar on intelligent insurance processes

I’ve been sponsored by Signavio for a short webinar series. The first, on intelligent banking processes, was last month; this month on March 10, I’ll be presenting on intelligent insurance processes:

With customer churn rates approaching 25% in some insurance sectors, insurers are attempting to increase customer retention by offering innovative products that better address today’s market. The ability to create and support innovative products has become a top-level goal for many insurance company executives, and requires agile and automated end-to-end processes for a personalized customer journey.

I’m focusing these webinars on very real use cases that I’ve observed in my years working with financial and insurance customers, linking up the top-level goals in organizations with process tools that can help to achieve those goals. There’s such a confusion in the landscape of intelligent automation tools, and many of the vendors don’t help this much by obfuscating the differences between product categories (not just differences between products in the same category). I’ll try to bring a bit of clarity to all of that, plus walk through an insurance use case to see how different types of process tools can be applied.

Head over to the link above to register for the webinar; even if you can’t attend next week, you’ll get a follow-up link to the recorded webinar for viewing later.

Replay of my webinar on banking processes with @Signavio

I did a webinar last week, sponsored by Signavio, that focused on banking processes. In particular, I looked at the top-level goals such as revenue, costs, compliance and competitive differentiation, and lined those up with some of the departmental goals and the process-related tools that can help to reach those goals. As usual, you can find my slides on Slideshare:

The replay is up, you can find it on the Signavio website (registration required). If you registered prior to the webinar, you will have already received an email with a link to the replay.

OpenText Analyst Summit 2020 day 2: Digital Accelerants

Although technically a product breakout, the session on OpenText’s Digital Accelerants product collection was presented to the entire audience as our last full-audience session before the afternoon breakouts. This was split into three sections: cloud, AI and analytics, and process automation.

Jon Schupp, VP of Cloud GTM, spoke about how information is transforming the world: not just cloud, but a number of other technologies, a changing workforce, growing customer expectations and privacy concerns. Cloud, however, is the destination for innovation. Moving to cloud allows enterprise customers to take advantage of the latest product features, guaranteed availability, global reach and scalability while reducing their operational IT footprint. OpenText provides a number of different deployment platforms: “off-cloud” (aka on-premise), public cloud, private cloud, managed services, and SaaS.

Dave Moyers and Paul O’Hagan were up next to talk about AI and analytics, and how they are addressing data variety, ease of use, embedding AI/ML in processes, and deploying anywhere that it’s required. Their AI and analytics capabilities are provided by the Magellan product, and have been integrated with other OpenText products as well as built into vertical solutions. Magellan has been integrated into the ECM products with AI-augmented capture and the AI-powered “magic folder” auto-categorization and filing; into the Business Network products with asset performance optimization and predictive maintenance; into AppWords by instantiating processes based on insights; and several other integrations. They also have some new standard features for identifying PII (personal identifiable information), which is crucial for compliance and privacy. In addition to the analysis capabilities, there is a wide range of dashboard and visualization options, and full-fledged ETL for connecting to enterprise and third-party data sources and organize data flows. We also saw some examples yesterday of using Magellan for e-discovery and sentiment analysis. Interestingly, this is one of the product portfolios where they’ve taken advantage of integrating with open source tools to extend the core products.

Saving the best for last (okay, maybe that’s just my bias), Lori McKellar and Nick King presented on business process automation. This is not just about back-office automation, but includes customer-facing processing, IoT and other more complex intelligent processes. AppWorks, which includes the process automation capabilities, is an application development environment for use by semi-technical citizen developers (low-code) as well as professional developers (pro-code). We saw the all-new developer experience last year, and now they’ve had a chance to integrate the actual customer usage to fine-tune both the developer and end-user AppWorks experience. One significant change is that as their customers start to build larger apps, they now allow more granular access to the entities under development to allow multiple developers to be working on the same application simultaneously without collisions. They’ve added some new UI capabilities, such as a card view option and an optimized tablet view. Integration with Documentum has been improved for easier document check-in and repository access. Privacy features, including dynamic instance-level permissions and document redaction, are now available in AppWorks. In the upcoming 20.2 version, they’ll be adding an RPA connector framework, then expanding the RPA integrations in 20.3.

The session finished with a Q&A with all of the participants, including discussions on RPA connectors, operationalization of machine learning, hybrid cloud models, the role of unstructured content in AI training, and natural language processing.

This afternoon, I’ll be attending the breakout session on content services, so stay tuned for those final notes from the OpenText Analyst Summit 2020.

OpenText Analyst Summit 2020 day 1: technology strategy

After the break, OpenText EVP and Chief Product Officer Muhi Majzoub took the stage at the analyst summit to talk about innovation within their products, a strategic projects update and a bit of a roadmap. They have innovation that comes from customer requirements as well as their own drivers, but they also have a lot to do in order to integrate new acquisitions.

He stressed that Documentum and Content Suite are both being maintained, with innovation (e.g., UI, Core Share integration) being applied to both product lines; although this is probably a great relief for customers of either product, I can’t believe that this will go on forever. This is the real challenge for OpenText going forward: how to consolidate some of their overlapping/competing acquisitions without alienating customers, especially in the content space where information is persistent for a long time. Branding everything as “Cloud Edition” doesn’t fix the problem, it just obscures it.

Majzoub spoke about their four strategic projects:

  • Cloud Edition (CE) is their cloud-native platform for running all manner of solutions and applications, which runs on a variety of cloud vendor platforms (OpenText, Google, AWS, Azure, Anthos) and includes containerized deployment models.
  • OT2 is their cloud-native application development platforms, including 231 of their own services and pre-built SaaS applications. This includes their Core services and applications, such as content and workflow services and many others.
  • Business Network, which includes a range of B2B services from fax to EDI, plus a huge directory of global trading partners that can be linked via OpenText’s platform.
  • Carbonite integration, which brings some new capabilities in cybersecurity, as well as SMB/consumer content management.

He finished with five new innovations to watch for from OpenText, including new features in Documentum, IoT connected supply chain, Exstream, Magellan, and Encase.

Craig Stilwell, formerly Chief Revenue Officer at Carbonite and now OpenText’s EVP and GM of the SMB and Consumer division, was on next to highlight some (more) of what Carbonite is bringing to OpenText. This acquisition is obviously energizing a lot of people, since we’ve heard about it in every presentation so far today. Carbonite, through their original product and their acquisition of Webroot last year, covers two of the main concerns of many SMBs: backup/disaster recovery, and endpoint protection. Unlike large organizations that own their own data centers, SMBs (and consumers) were much earlier adopters of cloud storage and computation, and therefore some of the early victims of downtime due to disaster or cyber attack.

We finished the day with SVP of product management Stephen Ludlow and demos by his four VPs of product management, each of which is responsible for a different product category. With their broad range of products, they obviously didn’t cover everything, but each showed an interesting capability with a large potential business impact:

  • Marc Diefenbruch demonstrated the intelligent folder in the content suite, which is AI-powered content classification and filing.
  • Dawn Andre demonstrated the identification and connection with potential trading partners based on multiple qualification criteria in the Trading Grid global partner directory.
  • Guy Hellier demonstrated personalized omnichannel communications with Extream for improving customer satisfaction, using customer data sources and Magellan speech analytics tied together with Core Experience Insights.
  • Michael Cybala demonstrated secure cloud sharing, collaboration and signing of documents using Core Share and Core Signature working with Content Server.

That’s it for our first (half) day at the 2020 OpenText analyst summit. We’ll be back tomorrow for another full day.

2020 State of Business Process Management report from @BPTrends

The very first post that I wrote here, back in 2005, was on the BPTrends 2005 BPM Suites Report, which has evolved into their State of Business Process Management report (free, but registration required). Back in 2005, I noted that the vendors included in the report were “pay to play”, whereas by now the report is mostly BPM background/thought leadership information plus the detailed results of surveys with BPM practitioners. Although survey respondents are asked about the tools that they use, and capabilities that they require for future work, the specific vendors are not discussed in any detail. For this report, Paul Harmon of BPTrends worked together with Jorge Garcia of Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC): it appears that Harmon focused on the first section, How Organizations Understand Business Processes, while Garcia covered the second section on Business Process Software Tools. The report was sponsored by Creatio (formerly bpm’online), Signavio and Trisotech, so thanks to them for helping to make this report free to everyone (as an aside, Signavio and Trisotech are both customers of mine, but that’s not why I’m writing this post).

This quote from the executive summary really highlights why processes are such an important part of understanding how businesses are going digital:

BPTrends started tracking the process market in 2005 when BPMS tools first appeared on the scene. In the years since, enthusiasm has driven a wide variety of process initiatives. Underneath it all, however, was the interest in Internet-based tools that could model, track and control major business processes. The tools have gone through a variety of changes and are, today, powerful, widespread and widely used. The initial enthusiasm for new process work has declined a bit and current interest is perhaps better characterized by the term digital transformation, but the underlying impulse – to improve how businesses perform their work – remains.

There’s some good analysis in the report, including trends that they’ve noted from their surveys since 2005. Interestingly, the percentage of companies that see BPM efforts as a major strategic commitment by executive management has actually decreased, and is now at 23%; the biggest current characterization (34%) is companies that are working on a limited number of mid or low-level projects. That’s right, 1/3 of the respondents to the BPTrends survey – who are presumably engaged to some degree in BPM efforts – are using BPM methods/technologies only on lower-level, non-strategic projects. They spin the results in a slightly different way, pointing out that if you combine the “major strategic commitment” and “significant commitment”, it forms 50% of the respondents. Their discussion in this section explored the idea that there was a big uptake in process interest in 2007-9, but interest hasn’t really grown since then: in many organizations, a senior manager brings in process management methodologies or tools as a “pet project”, then after they move on, no one takes up the reins to continue the process improvement efforts.

Another interesting result is the major business drivers for business process change (each organization could choose multiple): reducing costs/improving productivity has steadily risen to the current high of 69%, although product innovation and customer satisfaction are also a top choice for more than 1/3 of organizations. This really highlights what I see in practice: productivity/cost are table stakes in any process improvement, and although might not be the front-of-mind reason for many executives, are expected outcomes.

The second section on BPM tools has quite a bit of information on how the respondents’ companies are using process modeling and analysis tools, but much less on process automation.

I’ve included a couple of their results here as a teaser, but I highly recommend that you head over to BPTrends and grab a (free) copy of the full report.

Focus on Insurance Processes: Product Innovation While Managing Risk and Costs – my upcoming webinar with @Signavio

I know, I just announced a banking webinar with Signavio on February 25; this is another one with an insurance focus on March 10 at 1pm ET. From the webinar description:

With customer churn rates approaching 25% in some insurance sectors, insurers are attempting to increase customer retention by offering innovative products that better address today’s market. The ability to create and support innovative products has become a top-level goal for many insurance company executives, and requires agile and automated end-to-end processes for a personalized customer journey.

Similar to the banking webinar, the focus is on more management-level concerns, and I’ll look at some use cases around insurance product innovation and claims.

Head on over to the landing page to sign up for the webinar. If you’re unable to attend, you’ll receive a link to the replay.

My post on the @Trisotech blog: Designing Processes for Agility

In my continuing series over on the Trisotech blog, I’ve just published a post on issues to consider when designing processes for agility, especially the tradeoffs between what goes in a process model versus a decision model. I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about this in the past when working with enterprise customers on their processes, and a conversation after a conference presentation last year really brought some of the ideas into focus. From that post:

Assuming that you’re using model-driven process and decision management systems (BPMN and DMN, respectively) for design and implementation, you might assume that it doesn’t really matter how you design your applications, since either could be quickly changed to accommodate changing business needs. It’s true that model-driven process and decision management systems give you agility in that they can be changed relatively quickly with little or no coding, then tested and redeployed in a matter of hours or days. But your design choices can impact understandability of the models as well as agility of the resulting application, and it’s important to have both.

Head on over to their blog to read the entire post.

If you have comments or questions about the post, feel free to engage in the comments on this post, since Trisotech doesn’t allow commenting on their blog.