Gartner Blog Network


Doing B2B? E-Commerce? Cloud computing? Don’t forget – its about PROCESS

by Benoit Lheureux  |  October 7, 2009  |  2 Comments

I am a stickler for doing things *in context*. Ask my wife – she’ll be cooking and ask me to fetch the cooking wine and I’ll ask her “why?”. That’s right – asking for context when her stir-fried shrimp are already turning color is simply unnecessary – and annoying.

But when you’re doing business activities like B2B integration, e-commerce or Cloud computing, understanding context is important – lest you get distracted by technology (“Web 2.0 — wow, cool”) and your day-to-day tasks (“please send me that file!”) and you lose sight of the whole point of why you’re doing such things.

Which brings me to my take-away observations from the Gartner BPM Summit here in Orlando that’s just winding down. I gave two presentations on the role of BPM technology in B2B / Ecommerce projects. Here’s a few bits of wisdom from conversations with our attendees:

Consume B2B in the form of processes!

Whatever you think you’re doing – “B2B integration”, “e-commerce”, “Cloud computing” – remember that you’re implementing PROCESS. Thus, if you’re implementing the procure-to-pay process for a supply chain look for solutions that are process-aware, e.g., pre-configured with the right B2B documents, maps for translation, process visibility rules and dashboards. One way of consuming B2B processes directly is in the form of “business process networks” (BPNs) – in his own blog David McCoy briefly mentions BPNs and here’s our formal definition of BPN’s for Gartner clients (login required). Though not available for all projects, BPNs are a direct way to implement B2B processes, increasingly available for e-procurement, financial services, logistics, etc.

Selectively model B2B processes!

Janelle Hill and I had a great conversation with some nice folks of an international B2B / Ecommerce services provider that attended my session and wanted to explore options for their increasing need of BPMS technology (including process modeling and a rules engine) specifically so they could deploy configurable ecommerce projects with scale for their customers. We agreed that for complex, high-value and fast-changing processes that can be leveraged across multiple B2B communities, BPMS technology would be a great addition. But that for more static, less-complex processes that traditional application development is still fine. Its important to apply BPMS technology judiciously — I’ve blogged before on the issue of when — and when not — to use BPMS technology.

Instrument the process!

Once you’ve automated a B2B process across your community don’t miss out on the opportunity to “mine” that flow of messages and transactions to expose key performance indicators and drive process improvement. I had great discussions with a few clients about its benefits – such as sharing multienterprise process insight amongst your B2B peers – and challenges – such as plugging a potentially CPU-intensive BPM rules engine on top of your high-throughput B2B traffic! But regardless, nearly everyone agrees that one way or another IT users are long overdue to benefit from the decade-long oft-failed promised of “mining” B2B / ecommerce (and now Cloud) traffic! I have recently spoken to a few reference customers that specifically cited the valuable impact that process visibility has on their B2B projects.

I welcome your thoughts on all this!

As I post this I’m preparing to head back from the BPM Summit. The event has come to a close, but its impact will endure. Look to me for more on the role of BPM technology and discipline in the domain of B2B, e-commerce and Cloud computing!

Category: bpm  business-process-networks  cloud  cloud-computing  edi  integration  

Tags: b2b  bpms  bpn  cloud  ecommerce  edi  process  


Thoughts on Doing B2B? E-Commerce? Cloud computing? Don’t forget – its about PROCESS


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Benoit Lheureux and InsideAxis . InsideAxis said: Today in the cloud: Doing B2B? E-Commerce? Cloud computing? Don't forget – its about ….. http://bit.ly/c23pH […]

  2. […] I’m sure to be of the minority opinion not overwhelmingly impressed with the “convenience” aspect of using my iPhone as a hotel room key [and boarding pass, et al]. I mean, after all, it really *is* such a bother to keep track — and learn to use — those horrid hotel key-cards you know. But regardless, I’ll likely use the iPhone App like others for this purpose at some point. But let me convey a personal story to underscore why the real story here is NOT about the underlying technology but what my colleague Brian Prentice says is “focus should be on the underlying process” — a theme I’ve written about before. […]



Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.