Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Dangerous Disconnect Between Customers and Existing Processes

Most organizations seem pretty happy with their processes because they support the products and services in a manner that optimizes the companies goals. Good processes, by today's measures, handle work across the functional stove pipes to link together support for that work in the most economical fashion. I hate to burst the anyone's balloon, but there is significant danger around feeling smug about these ever improving processes. Customers today are fickle and will gladly switch to another organization these days. There are steps that organizations can take, besides changing their attitude listed below:

Create Customer Journey Maps:

Organizations are encouraged to create customer maps that show the touch points between customers and each part of their organization. Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) is gaining momentum because few organizations understand all the touch points that customers have with each of their organizational units. Once the maps are created they can be compared to the processes and the goals established for these processes and organizational units. The resulting analysis can generate improvements for short term gains for the customers pragmatically and long term incremental approaches to process redesign ideally.

Perform Behavior Modeling:

It is important to understand the mood of the customer as you interact with them in addition to their journey with your organization and the processes that represent your organization. It is equally important to understand the likely outcome of your offers and actions towards your customer. Journey maps are great, but they can be super charged by modeling behavior and predicting the outcomes of your additional actions with a customer. This moves beyond rigid scripts to situational analysis and savvy responses within constraints.

Establish Customer Advocates:

Right now there is little customer advocacy occurring on the customers behalf. Sure, you hire people who will listen and show empathy, but your employees are really not enabled to act on behalf of customers. In fact each customer touching employees are given inflexible scripts, policies and rules to enforce with profuse apologies that the customer just has to deal with the complications of organizations structures, processes and rules. While some of these constraints make sense, others are artificial and not necessary.

Net; Net:

We all have stories of bad customer service, bad processes and silly rules. I would guess there are any number of times where we have been more than annoyed. Organizations are betting that it is easier for you to deal with the bad service than switch to another organization. This is a bad bet today and a worse bet tomorrow with new and differentiating processes emerging from the new digital world !!!!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

IoT & Process Case Study: Guarding Lives

A company that provides alarm and call center based solutions for dementia patients to individual citizens, their families and local authorities is now leveraging BPM in it's solutions. This new digital technology combination now signifies a central focus for this company, who recognizes that this could represent the key to unlocking an increased quality of life, yet providing unrivalled protection for the affected citizen.

The Challenge:

This company was rapidly expanding and needed a solution which could respond quickly to their growing demands, but also one that was sensible and could support anticipated rapid growth which implies changing requirements and likely infrastructure developments. Working in a highly regulated environment such as health care, this organization invested in a robust and known underlying technology. Salesforce was selected as the heavy-duty solution for the organization and call center staff. The downside was the CRM suite could not support the fast and nimble evolving workflow processes. Processes that truly put the customer at the heart of the service provided were difficult and dangerous in highly integrated and tight application.

The Solution:

This organization implemented a BPM solution to create processes that will provide safe access to the underlying Salesforce data. Access is now provided to a partner network as well as their call center, allowing call-handling representatives to work within existing processes by providing a process layer over and above the existing architecture and solution.  A solution which provides a GPS wristband to citizens affected by dementia. The wristband tracks the location of the citizen and alerts a call center, ‘Alarm Central’, should they leave the security of their pre-defined safe geo-fenced environment. Providing an effective solution requires this organization and its call-handling representatives to work with many different agencies and institutions, co-ordinating a fast, effective and safe response for patients who unwittingly may put themselves in danger.

The Results:

This service that already reduces the tax-payers cost burden while providing a safe and more considerate response to those that can often represent a significant danger to themselves through no fault of their own can now change quickly. In the country of origin, 20 to 30 dementia patients die each year when they leave their safe environment. The BPM platform allows this organization to respond to business and customer demands more easily by creating a process that is agnostic to the underlying architecture and making changes without meddling with evolving IoT and underlying systems architecture.

Net; Net:

This is true pace layering (wrapping) situation that allows for incremental "hot change" without negative impacts.

This is a highly summarized and anonymous case study provided by ManyWho

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

PEX Week 2015: Customer Excellence Through Process Innovation

As always PEX Week is filled with case studies a plenty with very few non case study sessions. There are so many case studies that it's hard to sort them all out, but here were some my favorites.

As pictured above, Michael Lee of Rolls Royce talked about their experiences of including the administration processes along with the manufacturing processes. As rigorous as RR has been in designing and manufacturing jet engines that take us everywhere safely, they were still improving all their processes in the area of quality, timeliness and costs.

Peter Fingar gave a speech on BPM and Cognitive Computing that gave a status of the next generation of AI and it's potential impact of civilization and processes specifically. He was summarizing his latest book entitled "Cognitive Computing" that was available for sale that day for the first time along with his other book on the Next Wave of BPM. Both are available on Amazon. This wins for the most scary session.

Marjorie Hook, from HP, gave the strategy that HP is using to doing a company turn-around without disrupting their customers. This is all being done over a 4 year period that includes a company split and new /exciting products surrounding storage, 3D printing and 3D scanning and replication.

Suzanne Ryder gave a presentation on how an organization, mostly made up of creatives and acquisitions were brought into consistency over time, particularly the financial related processes.

Dr Louis Blatt, of Pegasystems, gave his top ten techniques for dealing with change and disruption. He asserts that you need to prepare for disruption and lay a strong base for it. This session wins for the most pragmatic session for dealing with change. See his ten areas below:

Angel R Garcia got us all hoping with salsa music, videos and common sense approaches for applying process improvement to the creatives in Univision, a media company aimed at the Spanish speaking community until now. This wins for the most entertaining session.

Sisir Padhy, of Verizon, gave a great session on how to build an innovation center and explained how Verizon selects and funds innovative customer process efforts inside and outside of Verizon. The best slide of the day sits below and describes the multifaceted innovation center inputs.

Net; Net:

While there are still sessions to go and the PEX awards are still coming, this is the best line up at PEX Week that  I have seen to date. Many of the key sessions were recorded on video and I expect there will be down stream uses.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Complexity Collaboration Will Deliver to Business Down the Road

Sometimes as a thought leader, you have to get out on the edge a bit, to peer over the cliff. Well last Friday I attended an all day session announcing a collaboration between Arizona State University (ASU) and the Santa Fe Institute (SFI). What I saw is encouraging. First of all we have a famous institution (SFI) that has linked with business in the past on various topics collaboration linked with one of the largest Universities in the country. A university that has a strong IT bent along with many other schools. Announcements are one thing, but attitude is another. I was encouraged by the vision of bringing these two fine organizations in cooperation.

What ASU Brings to Bear?

Michael Crow, the president of ASU, wants to fight the piety of typical universities and link them to other institutions for leverage. He also wants to link to real business and primary education tributaries. Michael has committed resources and heads of individual schools to leverage SFI and complexity specifically to deal with the emerging problems that business faces today.

What SFI Brings to Bear?

Jeff Sabloff, the president of SFI, wants to leverage the already mature research in complexity theory and other areas of research and plug these emerging research areas closer to the leaders and teachers that link to the ASU biosphere. His associates are already working with several heads of ASU departments.

The Proof Will Be?

ASU and SFI put a number of their smart folks on the podium to proclaim fertile areas of effort that they expected to pursue. This elite panel proclaimed any number of areas for collaboration and progress. These area were all dealing with growing complexity issues and felt they needed to collaborate. while I will list some of the areas, the proof will be when the collaborations bear fruit in terms of papers and actual use by other communities in the business and primary education worlds.

Example Fertile Areas of Innovative Cooperation:

City Architecture
Visualizing and Animating Areas of Science
Adaptive Processes and Computing Systems
Medicine in Following and Treating Adaptive Diseases
Generating Art & Music

Net; Net:

It is refreshing to hear academia wanting to cooperate to push complexity forward as the world tackles more emerging and adaptive situations. Normally I don't trust academia because of the piety you find there, but this one looks real good. I will be following closely as I am a big supporter of SFI and am seeing managing emerging processes as a growing challenge. I stayed the whole day, even though expected to run away around lunch time. For a person with ADD, that is saying something. We will see if my BS meter goes off over time :)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Valentines Day is Coming; Don't Forget

For four years now I have been struggling to create a fractal in the shape of a heart for the love of my life. Well I finally accomplished the feat and Sherry was thrilled. It now hangs in a prominent place in our house. This image below is for sale, in a limited set, if you want to get a warm reaction with an affordable piece of art. This can be fused on metal for high visual impact or put on canvas for a warm and textured feel.  I can be reached at or you can see other works at:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Striking the New Work Balance Between Man & Machine in the IoT

A challenge faces us for the rest of this decade and the next. "How will we balance work between man and machines" and how will they cooperate. Depending on whose numbers you believe, there are going to be tens of billions of new things to deal with in the growing machine world. This begs a number of interesting questions. How are we going to manage them or will they manage us? If we give more work to things and machines, what happens to the people and the people / machine interface when they share work?  I don't pretend to have the answers, but I see a big role for processes, policies and constraints in the future working together. I'd like to start out the discussion by identifying a number of new things for processes to interact with in the next few years,  I have classified them into two areas to help me understand and differentiate the IoT. One for Things / Bots and the other for Learning Machine Intelligence.

Things / Bots:

The basic difference between things and bots is the amount of planned logic that is embedded in them. This is where humans have added logic for predictable responses and have pre-programmed them to take appropriate actions based on precursor data or situations. I've listed them in level of rather static and planned intelligence with an example. For this example I will use a blind spot detection system on many modern vehicles.

Sensors / Sensor Clusters      Sensors aimed at blind spots
Pattern Detectors (planned)  Determine of another vehicle is close enough to threaten
Communication Controllers  Fire a set of warning devices alarm
Agent Hubs                              Determine if the drivers eyes are aimed at the visual warning
Robots                                      Vibrate the seat of the driver and advise a monitoring org

Learning Machines/ Systems:

The basic difference between things/bots is that the intelligence used is determined in real time and my not have been planned (emerging). This is where conditions and actions can be determined as they occur and rely on the interaction of machines and people together. For this example I will use a human stock trader that is supplied a workbench of active features, software and intelligence.

Business Intelligence              Report market trends in light of portfolio and yield goals
Big Data Poly-Analytic           Run in flight analysis of stocks in context of yield & mix
Pattern Detectors (emerging) Sense interesting patterns that might need the traders attention
Machine Learning                   Note reports, analytic and patterns of interest to the trader
Personal Assistants / Agents   Buy and sell personal assistants give advice on trade options

Net; Net:

Our challenge over the next few years is how to manage all these new capabilities (or let some of them self manage) and how to get people comfortable with interfacing with them and building trust. Really trust that they can assist us and can do a portion of management by themselves. In some cases they will be taking work that is not appeal to us or we are not capable of doing in a real time fashion ourselves. This is an evolutionary revolution that we will all be learning how to deal with in the work place, in our cars, in our houses, with our appliances and all together. I believe that process, policy, decision, agent and constraint technologies will have to work together in new ways to get into advanced levels of comfort, productivity and trust.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Process Management Providing Better Customer Service in Manufacturing

This is a case of an orthopedic manufacturer getting the best of both worlds, better customer service and saving costs. While customer service was the going-in goal, there were additional monies added to the bottom line of the company. 

The Challenge:

Increase customer feedback capture by 100 percent while decreasing resolution time by 60 percent in a company that had grown by acquisition and had a complicated product mix. The growth of this complexity was robbing R&D and customer service from customer feedback and was extending resolution times. 

The Solution:

Customer processes were presented to various stakeholders for early feedback and buy-in. Prototypes were completed with Microsoft technologies in parallel with processes being crafted in an intelligent business process management suite (iBPMS). This allowed the early feedback to be incorporated in the ultimate processes as the project progressed to completion.

The Results:

The results were impressive in that not only money was saved but time was shaved off of every process over time.  Examples of real benefits were as follows:

The registration process was reduced from five minutes to one minute
There was a 70% reduction in resolution time in the inspection process
Order entry time was reduced by 20%
Inventory carrying costs were reduced by 13%
Payroll per shipment was reduced by 10%

Net; Net:

The deceptive part of process improvement is that you think you are only going to get one benefit, but more times than not it is a set of benefits that flow out of having the better processes. Resulting BPM visibility combined with “hot change” can deliver deeper benefits over time. Not to mention the use of “hot change” during development of the actual processes.  There is no excuse to dodge process benefits.

This is a highly summarized case study provided by PNMsoft  The client has given PNMsoft permission to publish, so if you want more detail see the following link

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Get Real Customer Care and Stop the Lip Service

Nearly every great organization wants to be known for customer care, but companies are fundamentally organized in a way that defeats great customer care. Sure you can train your employees to treat people better. Sure you can enable technology to sense the mood of the customer. Sure you can have better mobile interfaces and feedback mechanisms to please customers. These are all great steps.  However, if you force clients to traverse your departments because of your division of labor, you are starting in a hole and working your way back out of it to neutral.  Divide and conquer is an old strategy that has spread beyond usefulness and it's time.  Yes we need specialties, but let the technology do most of the specialty work.

The Problem with the Division of Labor:

The industrial revolution ushered in the notion of specialties because people were more productive, if you only gave them a few tasks to get great at over time. Well when people were dependent on their own knowledge and skills, this made perfect sense. Over time people became smarter and the work splits stayed pretty much the same. This made sense back in the 1800s and the early 1900s, but we are way past that in our abilities as a collective society. No wonder labor unions emerged. Besides organizational abuse, we introduced boredom in the work place. I understand that only special people could be generalists back then, but there is no longer any excuse for keeping this old paradigm the dominant way to organize. It's time to start the incremental transformation to real digital assisted generalists.

The New Digital World Connects Across Specialties:

The new digital world has five major areas that change the game for the modern organization and professional managers in the new emerging business world. All of these enable the transformation away from people specialists as the common way to organize and tips the scales towards generalists.

Connects Knowledge and Content:

We have significant technologies to connect various types of content and data into accessible repositories that work in real time. It's time to focus it on enabling our employees to easily access big data through ontologies that super charge them for customer service.

Connects People into Communities:

We have significant technologies to leverage multiple people as one through community solution for a specific customer with specific needs and wishes. Knowledge and state aggregation is at our finger tips for us to leverage. Social technologies and emerging better work pattern recognition is here now to assist better customer care.

Connects Professionals to Automated Personal Assistants / Agents:

With the advent of cognitive computing and machine learning, we can now supercharge employees with the ability to think like many super computers linked fit for purpose as well as integrating multiple problem domains and approaches. Automated personal assistants can read through millions of  pages of data, information and knowledge to give suggested alternatives. This is the emerging secret sauce that will change the specialist equation towards better customer care.

Connect Customers to Progress:

We give customers poor visibility into progress of long running service requests and generate ore work for organizations to check status. There is no excuse for blind processes and service execution. Customers should be able to trust and verify; not just trust.

Connect Customers and Employees to Potential or Real Change:

By using event and pattern recognition agents/bots, all parties can be made aware of progress or situations that could threaten progress, This could be for real time service requests or long running requests.

Net; Net: 

We have put the burden of traversing our complex organizations on our customers. Shame on us, if we do not take advantage of the emerging digital platforms to move away from specialty driven customer service. We can make our almost all of our employees generalists with real time collaboration, data and content at their finger tips. Let the people do the generalist care and let the technology do the specialty work, assemblage and computing. It is time to incrementally transform our organizations to real customer care.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy 40th Birthday: Andy Sinur

Andy would have been 40 years old today, January 6th. It hurts that we can't celebrate it together, but I have faith that you will be joyful in your new abode. I'm sure you know that the movie you worked on "Big Hero 6" was a big success, like Frozen, and that your children are doing well as they are surrounded with love. Your family really misses you and your grand sense of humor. I miss our times together working on my goofy art projects, going to art museums, sharing our love for ethnic foods and talking over the worlds problems over dinner. Remembering you on your birthday buddy. Love you much !!  I know your brothers and sisters miss you along with friends, cousins, nieces and nephews. You said you would chose to visit us as an owl. Here's looking for you :)

For more posts on Andy see the following:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Business Process in 2015: The Year of Taking Digital to Heart

It's now time to take a shot at predicting 2015, since a number of us have tried to dissect 2014. My analysis of  2014 was  I think that the themes for 2015 will be leveraging the emerging digital platforms and aiming them at "real customer interactions" starting with marketing and working their way into operations as a better understanding of what it means to be digital. I categorized the 2015 trends into three categories and they are Business Impact, Market Momentum and Technology Interactions.

Business Impact:

Business is enlightened enough to realize that better customer relationships goes beyond the processes that just enable "sheep stealing" processes that just make on-boarding a better experience. We all know that our clients are savvy enough to know there is a better way and they see it unfolding on their phones, so they expect the same experience in dealing with a long term business relationship. Their alternative is to pick another business, which they will keep doing, if we don't step up our efforts to keep them delighted. The start of these efforts is not just to do customer journeys, but to do behavior modeling to understand how customers will react to situations. This will help processes to handle needed innovations under varying circumstances. It will also help businesses take the new digital platforms seriously as responding properly will require platform that can better sense, decide and respond appropriately. Given this new ability to morph responses to real needs, a new visibility will be needed to govern and adjust the processes in a dynamic fashion. To read more about behavior modeling and transparency:

Market Momentum:

The BPM related markets will continue to grow at double digit rates and there will be a larger number of new players that will take one or more of the technologies contributing to evolving digital platforms and drive them home to deliver benefit quickly while the big vendors take a longer time to evolve a complete platform. Medium sized vendors will pick a starting point, such as visibility to drive revenue while they expand their digital platform.

One of the side effects of the new digital platforms and the combining of technologies is complexity and the ability to manage it. BPM will let go of some control and push some of the intelligence and control to the edge with the agent enabled IoT (smarts at the source and destination). The big and powerful vendors will push incremental transformation that leverages the digital platforms advantages while dealing with a portfolio of legacy processes and applications. To read more about incremental transformation and the target digital behaviors:

Technology Interactions:

The pace of including emerging technology silos will quicken and I expect that there be flashes of technology innovation that will require collaboration and eventual inclusion into process efforts. The areas I expect to be hot are the Internet of things (IoT), Cognitive Computing, Personal Assistants (Intelligent agents), Machine Intelligence, Robotics, Improved Big Data Analytics and Advanced Visualization Capabilities. I also expect a raft of encouraging case studies to start to emerge in 2015 that shows the strong benefit of BPM and these new areas just like we saw on social, mobile, cloud and analytics. While these 2013 & 2014 themes will continue to show up in sharp case studies, these newer technologies will make the way into proof points as well.

Net; Net:

With the investment in technology soaring in the US in 2015 and BPM earning it's way into cost savings solutions in economies just approaching higher GDP growth, I expect another strong process year in 2015. These are exciting days.