Cordys is a sponsor of the Gartner BPM Summit, held this year in Baltimore at the lovely Marriott Waterfront hotel. As a vendor, one attends many such conferences, trade shows and the like, and sometimes they may not deliver as much value as both attendees and sponsors might hope for. That is not the case here. The sessions are informative and the conference attendees are quite engaged with the vendors in the exhibit hall. While there is far too much content to summarize here, here are a few things that jumped out at me.
First, the attendees. I spoke with a remarkable number of people who were in the early phases of thinking about or actually adopting BPM as a strategic approach for their businesses. Attendees had the option to participate in tracks oriented towards their level of sophistication. Some sessions were about the basics of BPM while others were quite esoteric such as “Gamification”. I think BPM is entering a phase of much wider adoption, but I also think that the nature of mainstream adopters are quite different from early, visionary adopters in the sense that they look to vendors to provide more complete, end to end solutions versus consulting or technology on a narrow basis.
The topic that intrigued me most was the use of social platforms to impact how organizations operate in a BPM context. Anthony Bradley, a Group VP at Gartner and author of a book, The Social Organization talked about how one can “crowd-source” process improvements from your employees via this approach, and this is an idea that I want to look at a bit more closely. How does BPM drive improvements in quality and efficiency, as well as innovation? It isn’t “crowds” that do so, but actually is individuals in the crowd who make improvements. Simply putting a social platform on an employee’s desktop will not make them take ownership of a process. Rather, the management approach of the company needs to be one in which process ownership is explicitly given to the folks who work those processes.
I talked about this idea with many attendees and vendors, and the response was uniform. The next threshold that we need to cross in order for companies to have sustained success with BPM is an organizational one. Elise Olding, chairing the event for Gartner, kicked off the day noting that she believes organizational issues are the number one challenge BPM faces. I couldn’t agree more.