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Back to the Future with Business Process Management

by Andrew White  |  April 12, 2019  |  Comments Off on Back to the Future with Business Process Management

Do you remember the Seven Year Itch?  If you are like me, a little older than you care to think about, then you will remember that iconic movie.  It remains for me a Holiday favorite (along with my five-pack collection of Marx Brothers movies).  Well as with the seven year itch, many things come in cycles.  In fact, I was talking with a client yesterday about this very point – and the client noted that “increasingly the seven year itch is becoming 2 or 3 year cycle”.

Anyway, I was browsing the news today and spotted this article which reminded me of a topic I had previously noted.  The concept is that when firms think about applying AI to automate work, you need to be very careful about which work you automate.  Clearly if you automate bad processes, or processes that don’t really add much value, then you are wasting your money.  The very productivity improvement you are seeking will literally be further out of reach with the completion of the investment.

The article I spotted was Intuit CIO: Be Strategic About the Bots You Build.  The principle is clear.  An ability to look at a business process, and redesign it so that you can weed out the inefficient parts, and localize the parts that are value-add but a good fit for automation, as in does not require significant, highly erratic judgement calls, will be in demand.  In other words, anyone who remembers BPM and all that jazz will be in high demand.  And we have been here before!

BPM was all the range 20-odd years ago.  As packaged application software really got going, along with ERP, CRM, and SCM – then later PLM – the idea that we needed to understand, document and design our uniqueness and competitiveness in the form of a process model was critical.  Even Michael Hammer’s Business Process Engineering form the 1990’s comes to mind.  So what goes around comes around.  Our data scientists will not be able to solve all our problems; AI will not (should not) automate everything.  We need to get smart at “just enough BPM” to ensure we make targeted and surgical investments with AI to make a difference.  But how do we get good at BPM given the demise of that topic?

BPM is not dead of course, it is just dormant.  Our own BPM Conference is no longer held but there is much BPM and related research and advice dotted around our data and analytics conference, our digital workplace, EA, and also our ERP, SCM and business application conferences.  But here’s a tip: One of the fastest ways to relate data and analytics to BPM and the necessary design skills to rethink your processes “ready for AI” is to understand how decisions are made.

Start with (the original, simple) OODA, then consider our very own adaptation, Decision Intelligence.  This decision model helps you understand your real-time, customer next-best-action response, as well as your five-year capital investment decisions.  See how understanding and using, physically, a decision model can help you prefer the way for investment and prioritization across data, analytics, people, systems, applications, and physical execution.  Give it a try.

Additional Resources

Category: business-applications  business-process  business-process-management-bpm  data-and-analytics  decision-intelligence  decision-making  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a Distinguished Analyst and VP. His roles include Chief of Research and Content Lead for Data and Analytics. His main research focus is data and analytics strategy, platforms, and governance. Read Full Bio




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