2012: the Year of Doing More with Less! (Part 1 of 2)

Here we are again. A New Year with new resolutions, as well as some old ones we need to renew and try to stick to again! It is also time for predictions. What will the hot trends be in 2012? In technology, Cloud Computing in conjunction with Social and Mobile continue to dominate the top ten lists of 2012 predictions. Another important trend is analytics.

Economically, many corporations did end 2011 with relatively a high note. The outlook for 2012 is overall positive. Still, most enterprises will continue with cost savings and belt-tightening in the foreseeable future – for this year and even beyond. For BPM, this means process efficiency demonstrating concrete returns on investment will continue to be critical.  Despite the gains and inertia, we are still facing serious economic challenges both in the private and public sectors. So while technology trends will continue to provide opportunities for incremental transformation, the main challenge and opportunity for BPM in 2012 will be “doing more” with “less.”

What does it mean to “do more … with less?” There are four main areas. My first two points (below) primarily focus on reducing cost: Modernization and Engagement with Automation. The last two focus on generating revenue: Innovation and Customer Centricity. In this blog I will focus on the first two.

  1. Modernize More – especially legacies: I touched upon this in last year’s blog. In 2011, legacy modernization continued to be one of the most important pain points for organizations who had embarked upon a transformation journey. In addition to legacy systems and the limitations of point/packaged or ERP systems, there are also legacy resources – experts or knowledge workers – who are retiring with their implementation as well as policy and procedure know-how in their heads. A complete BPM with Dynamic Case Management (DCM), analytics, and unified rule capabilities provides the foundation for modernization. DCM can wrap, modernize, empower and extend legacies.

    “With Less” – The pain points of legacy and ERP systems are maintenance costs, financial impact of delayed projects, serious impact of change management, lack of business process/business rules visibility (“ossified” policies and procedures), erosion of “knowledge” or know-how, and an overwhelming backlog of issues that need to be resolved with legacy deployments. Dynamic Case Management empowered with business rules as well as decisioning analytics, is ideal for a transformational “agility” layer on top, around, and sometimes replacing legacies. A robust BPM master policy and procedure approach can reduce the waste that gets associated with the aforementioned pain points – such as repetitive updates of the same business logic across various legacies or systems of records. BPM also can help clients avoid the waste of translating requirements to execution via wasteful tool integration or export/import primitives. So the “less” is a combination of fewer resources in modernizing, building solutions, and sharing business logic assets across the enterprise. It also emanates from the advantages of faster and more effective policy, or solution change management, and the “less” in translation or communication efforts between stakeholders.
  2. Automate More – with knowledge workers: the spectrum of work automation includes not only structured or planned/predetermined processes but also collaborative, dynamic, and unstructured processes.  Here again, Dynamic Case Management is one of the most important trends for doing more in 2012. The combination of social/collaborative networking and analytics through dynamic cases allows organizations involve not only their clerical/transaction workers but also knowledge workers and knowledge assisted workers – perhaps the most important category of workers. Thus automation can span not only predetermined and structured processes but also dynamic, ad-hoc, and collaborative processes. The DCM involves guided interactions and automated recommendations for next best actions for all categories of workers: transaction/clerical works as well as knowledge assisted and knowledge workers. Collaboratively engaging all kinds of work and workers provide tremendous potential in enterprise communication, collaboration, and overall improvement of cases or processes that often span inter and intra-organizational silos. The ability to dynamically and quickly move between different categories of work and workers enables organizations resolve silos internally as well as with their B2B value chains.

    “With Less” – BPM can reduce the amount of effort it takes to continuously improve automated solutions. BPM can engage and empower workers of all categories. The majority of work in enterprises consists of exception handling and collaborative work. BPM has historically by and large focused on “production” or “predetermined” workflow. Automating just the planned and predetermined process flow charts for transactional or clerical work is just a small fraction of what could be automated, managed, learned from, and improved continuously within the enterprise and across value chains. Case Management augmented dynamically with insight from predictive as well as adaptive analytics, many of the manual steps involving workers of all categories, could be reduced. The cost savings in automating or managing all types of works and supporting all categories of workers could be several orders of magnitude larger than what has thus far been possible with traditional structured workflow/BPM approaches.

In the next blog I will be covering innovation and customer centricity.