Wednesday, February 26, 2014

If You Don't Take Care of Your Customers, Someone Else Will

In this day an age, revenue is the magic bullet. Gaining and maintaining customers is priority one today. It's not just about price. This means that organizations need to take a good look at their "end to end" processes that support excellent customer experiences. Processes are the welcome mat for your organization. What does yours say? Once customers are in, do you just lock the doors or do you really care about them?

You might enjoy this short video:

You might also enjoy this emerging case study:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Business Survival Skill V: Reaching for Innovative Change

Change is never an easy thing to do personally or institutionally. In fact it is the most challenging issue we all face in the future, but the stakes will be higher and the complexity will grow over the coming years and decades. My favorite change methodology is ADKAR, but it also will need extensions to be effective going forward. There are three areas of extension and adaptation that need to happen besides just adapting to any one organizations culture. The first is to "seek ye first innovation", the second is expand  beyond "just employees" and the third is to infuse short incremental cycles now afforded by new technologies emerging for the digital organization.

Seeking Innovation in Change:

Much of change is aimed at effective change rather than innovative change. While we should not throw the baby out with the bath, there is a need to move away from waterfall methods in implementing change. The problem with change methods is they are aimed at completion and perfection. We need to add innovation to these proven change methods and innovation needs to be the end game of the results of the actual change. Innovation in both of these directions has been neglected. This has to change for the digit organization to be successful.

Expanding the Effect of Change:

Most change methods and efforts are aimed at employees. While this may have worked in the past, the new world includes value chain partners and customers as key stake holders in the change process. Innovation, again, will have to be shown in truly involving these parties in the initial change and any ongoing adjustments, Myopic views of change impact are just too limiting for the digital organization.

Changing at the Speed of Digital:

Most change methods assume that technology and people will get in the way of effective change. The digital age employs incrementally changeable technology that allows organizations to "do it, try it & fix it" in rapid cycles. Digital approaches can actively enable change rather than slow it down. Instead of trying to "boil the frog slowly", we need to get the frog involved with planning and preparing the menu.

Net; Net:

If you think you can sit on the sideline and ignore change in the digital age, you are sadly mistaken. It's like an airplane; either you fly it or it flies you. The digital age gets technology on board and out of the way, so we better aim it at innovation to capitalize for our about to be digital organizations.

Additional posts in the series are:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Business Survival Skill IV: Leveraging Organizational Resources

I remember that one of my mentors said "There are only three things to manage in an organization: men. machines and money". It would be nice if this simplistic view steal held in the age of the digital organization, but it's more complex than that saying. He was from the industrial age, not the information age. To his list I would add partners, processes, knowledge and data. The organizations that create innovative synergy, in a digital fashion with these seven key resources in a balanced way will be the ones who thrive and capitalize in this ever-changing world.

Leveraging People:

In the last decade leveraging people was about cost reduction through outsourcing, but the pendulum swung too far in one direction. Today, it's about leveraging people, from employees to stringers, with assistance from technology. This leverages their knowledge and influence power towards better business outcomes. There will be a great emphasis on people to people (social) collaboration and the advent of machine intelligence used as a way to get more activity from people in the digital age.

Leveraging Partners:

Unless organizations are highly insular, there is a need for partners. The old partnerships were aimed at leverage, but there was usually a "big dog / little dog" relationship where the big dog dominated. In the new digital age, partners will collaborate on the policies and rules that benefit all parties on a case by case basis under the umbrella of a legal framework. This is a fresh approach to excellent value and supply chains.

Leveraging Machines:

In the past machines were physical assets on the plant floor, but today they are also logical and composed of software assists. In addition machines are communicating and collaborating to get work done like agents. Machines of the past needed humans to watch their every move, but today they can surpass human speed and intelligence. While we all want to interface with people, human to machine interfaces will become more interesting and productive.

Leveraging  Data:

We are now in the age of "Big Data" and we are just learning how to leverage it better through poly-analytics and real time intelligence. Again the amount of data and information that can be consumed and leveraged in a short period of time is coming to bear on organizational outcomes.

Leveraging Processes:

Processes are the orchestration engines of the digital organization. They are fast changing from just a modeled and rigid way to force best practices to also include dynamic and goal directed behavior that can create emerging better practices that can be presented as alternatives to the people and machines that are involved with the completion of the processes. This is different kind of hybrid process that is essential in the digital age.

Leveraging Money:

The principles of money leverage have been around a long time, the the nature and speed that will impact principles will change in the digital age. The issue here will be around the safety and security of how money is handled. In the wrong hands, it also could be used to manage and control people and organizations in a negative way. However, the optimist in me thinks this will not happen to a great degree,

Leveraging Knowledge:

All of the leverage comes together in the knowledge that is moving and multiplying quickly in the digital organization. There will be new attempts at knowledge management that will not be restricted by structure. A growing and evolving knowledge ontology will become one of the digital organizations most prized assets because it has an effect on all the resources inside and outside an organization

Net; Net:

We are headed to the digital organization at a fierce speed, so those who manage the interacting resources I mentioned above will be the ones who really capitalize on their futures.

Additional posts in the series are:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Business Survival Skill III: Taking Optimal Actions for Better Business Outcomes

In order to take optimal actions for any one situation (transaction, process instance or case) in light of goals that represent the best outcomes for constituents (customer, employee, partner) and the organization with appropriate speed, there has to be some precursor steps. This assumes that even simple transactions have to be performed in the light of constituents goals and context. Organizations of old let you operate within the constraints of what they perceived as best for you within legal constraints. This is no longer acceptable today. The digital organization will be very different in that it will sense changing patterns and decide in real time, how to handle a situation assisted by knowledge workers and more advanced technology. See the following blogs the mention typical precursor steps of finding pertinent patterns and making predictive decisions.

Business Actions:

Simple or Combined Actions:

The actions of organizations carry with them the fulfillment of legal and charter requirements, but more importantly a chance for satisfaction and reputation. These actions must be completed with notifications given to appropriate parties. These actions can singular in action and impact or may mean a series of complex actions metered over time.  

Single Organization or Value/Supply Chain Actions:

Actions contained with a single organization give better control over the results, but more and more actions are being provided by a chain of contributing actions from several separate legal entities. Each could share in the success or failure of expected and appropriate actions, but usually the last or represented organization in the chain bears the burden of the results. More chains are setting up shared processes with blended goals for better results. 

Human, System or Machine Actions:

Actions can be carried out by people, systems or machines in collaboration with themselves or others. This places a premium on great collaboration, thus the new emphasis new supports. We are seeing the rise in importance of collaborative technologies that include employees, partners, stringers and constituents. With the advent of deeper machine augmented human actions and self service, this collaboration will be a key focus for the near future

Technology Assisting Actions:

Intelligent Business Process Management Technology(iBPMS):

The trend for more pattern recognition and analytics being close to process actions has launched the advent of more intelligence in operational processes through the iBPMS. These processes leverage several approaches either used separately or together. These action approaches leverage a combinations of case management (H2H collaboration), machine intelligence (H2M or M2H collaboration). system assists (H2S & S2S) and machine interactions(M2M collaboration). All of these patterns of actions are orchestrated dynamically in the iBPMS in a more centralized way.

H = Human;  S = System; M = machine

Intelligent Agents:

While intelligent agents can assist holistic and centralized processes, they bring more benefits when they bid and dynamically assemble to perform actions. Here, again, the intelligence is close to the actions, but in much more of a distributed and dynamic way most iBPMS approaches. This allows agents to be better at creating goal seeking processes; especially in situations with growing complexity and evolving needs. 

Simple Process Management and Workflow Technologies:

There a plenty of actions that can use a straight forward action sequences where the combination of H2H and S2S are able to be planned ahead of time with lower amounts of change. 

Process Enabled Packaged Templates:

A growing category of packaged best practices that can flex more easily are core package "jump starts" that are built upon more agile iBPMS and Agent technology platforms. This is helpful in environments that are more subject to change or have multiple evolving better practices

Packaged Applications:

This a popular way to buy best practices that can immediately help an organization, though they tend to be rigid on top of rigid platforms.

Legacy Applications:

While legacy applications can be wrapped and leveraged by more modern process technologies for better business differentiation, they tend not to be rigid and highly specialized. There are exceptions where SOA, explicit rules and parameters have been leveraged. 

Integration Technologies:

Quite often systems and data need to be brought together to leverage in larger end to end contexts and this kind of technology is valuable in that case.

Net; Net:

Actions are necessary to get to desirable business outcomes, but keeping the best outcomes coming under the demand of constituents, governing bodies and constant change will require a shift to a more digital and intelligent organization. The day of intelligent actions is here, so be prepared.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Business Survival Skill II: Making Decisions Leveraging Speed & Prediction

In the past, organizations could survive making slow and deliberate decisions. Today is a different era where the speed, accuracy, scope and completeness of a decision can make a difference in immediate profitability and longevity. The trend toward real-time analytics is transforming decisions in three ways. The first is the movement from pure historical data(what happened) to more in-flight and hypothesis focused data. The second is to use more streaming data that occurs over a tighter time frame. The third is that the analytics are being embedded closer to the real operations of an organizations; particularly in processes that run the organization. This is the second in a series. See

Business Decisions:

History, Real Time and Prediction:

Organizations have to stop driving through the rear view mirrors. While history guides good decisions, better decisions can be made considering the most up to date information available and predictions based analysis. The combination of all three gives the business professional the best odds of making that educated decision that will drive for more success.

Years, Months, Weeks, Days, Hours, Minutes, Seconds & Sub-seconds:

Certain decisions have longer periods to brew, but one thing is for certain. If it took weeks in the past, it will likely require Days or Hours in our new world of high speed. In fact the premium on making operational decisions in real time is high. This is the new trend that is be accelerated by wider process and decision scopes and more sensors that are feeding decision opportunities faster than ever.

Strategy, Tactics and Operations:

It quite clear that operational decisions need more speed and strategy decisions need more prediction, but there is change to put strategy and tactics in business operations to make them more intelligent. This muddies the water as to what kind of decisions need speed and predictions. In fact there is a shift from mostly on demand analytics to the inclusion of more inline analytics. These inline analytics may allow for the adjustment of tactics or even strategies where scenarios and associated responses have been planned out and responses have been prepared.

Technology Assisting Decisions:

Big Data in Memory:

The ability to gather and hold simple events is greatly enhanced by big data. For organizations that want a big view and high speed, big data in memory is a must. In-line analytics can be leveraged across large many events over time more easily. Patterns detected sensed in big data can trigger on demand analytics as well.

Real Time Activity Monitoring:

Activity that is unusual can trigger real time multiple analytic assessments (poly-analytics) as well as notify business process managers of a need to run on demand analysis or predictions to look for a change in tactics or strategy.

Process & Exception Management:

Quite often the early signs of an emerging pattern occurs in the exception grates of processes. It is easy to assign exceptions to skilled knowledge workers to complete case work, process  management that highlights and points out unusual exceptions is a growing trend thus triggering no demand analytics for changes in operations.

Assessment Agents:

There can be specialized agents that can be triggered in the event of an on demand need. An example might be an assessment agent that have been built for expected conditions. Also agents can operating in-line to notify business professionals of any need to adjust operations, tactics or strategy. 

Rule Engines:

Decision management software services provide prescriptive advice. They run on demand when a person, an application program or some other agent needs computational support for making a decision. For example, an application program may invoke a rule engine to score a customer's creditworthiness when he or she submits an order for goods. Business policies, goals and constraints are represented in the rules and algorithms embedded in decision management tools. In this example, credit scoring and other aspects of the decision could have been implemented in standard application code. However, using a rule engine simplifies application development and maintenance for complicated or volatile business policies. In some cases, business analysts or power users can directly modify the rules without programming, and with little or no IT staff involvement. 

Scoring and Optimization:

There are many scoring and analytic capabilities that can be leveraged. Examples range from data visualization, text analytics, forecasting, statistical analysis to contextual analytic methods. There is not end of combinations that can add value to speedier decisions that can help create better outcomes. 

Net; Net:

Fast and predictive decisions are dependent on situation awareness and predictions. Situation awareness is provided by systems that provide continuous intelligence – constantly updated descriptive analytics (although they also have elements of predictive analytics  because they may project what is likely to happen based on leading indicators and patterns of events that have been detected). The decide phase is when decision management techniques are applied to determine the best available solution (this is where prescriptive analytics apply).  More of these decision capabilities will be built closer to the business activity inside and along side processes that orchestrate people and systems

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Business Survival Skill I: Recognizing Important Patterns

If a business hums along and misses important patterns and trends, it is in mortal danger in today's world. It can mean a loss in business revenue, reputation and opportunities. Obviously, there are many events and patterns that organizations have to sort through to stay successful. This posting will focus on key pattern detection and the technologies that can help sort through the onslaught of events, data and information.

Business Patterns: 

Opportunities, Threats and Noise:

Organizations need to be able to sort out the key patterns from the noise that is constantly bombarding them from multiple traditional sources as well as social outlets. Filtering out noise makes finding the key gems of interest. Once the big rocks are stripped away, the good ground can be sifted for patterns of threat. Threats have to be considered first to defend organizations immediately. Opportunities can often be developed on a slower time line, but not always.

Simple and Complex Patterns:

Organizations can be easily fooled into thinking that any one event is not germane for attention. This is why more data needs to be held over time, looking for pairings of events that may need attention. This will require think through the patterns and combinations of events that make sense to look for over time. This requires thought about the policies, rules and constraint boundaries to use as screening mechanisms.

Expected and Unexpected:

Smart organizations leverage scenario planning to establish the patterns of highest interest, that point to the expected, probable and reasonably possible scenarios. Even with the best of planning, there will be occasional unexpected scenarios that might emerge. Smart organization envision unlikely scenarios as well and are looking for the odd exceptions and unexpected trends and correlations.

Technologies Assisting Pattern Detection:

Complex Events: 

There are established technologies that combine rules with events to look for patterns over time. This is a crucial base technology for pattern detection. This will only get more important as we link to the "Internet of Things"

Big Data in Memory:

The ability to gather and hold simple events is greatly enhanced by big data. For organizations that want a big view and high speed, big data in memory is a must.

Real Time Activity Monitoring:

Believe it or not many patterns are caught by visualizing patterns in monitoring business activity. While this works better in a slower and simple world, it is still quite effective. Organizations that are deep into speed and complexity, there is a need for additional technologies.

Process & Exception Management:

Quite often the early signs of an emerging pattern occurs in the exception grates of processes. It is easy to assign exceptions to skilled knowledge workers to complete case work, process  management that highlights and points out unusual exceptions is a growing trend.

Listening Agents:

Like scouts in war conditions, specialized listening agents that contain logic for ferreting out patterns can be deployed upstream or in the collective. This way patterns of interest can be sensed early. Agents generally combine the function of many of the assisting technologies listed in this section.

Mining & Activity Analysis:

Smart organizations are constantly optimizing and mining their favorite sources of data and process actions to look for emerging better practices as well as for patterns of interest. This a rapidly evolving set of technologies combined to find work patterns.

Data Transformation & Integration: 

Tapping into many event, data and information sources, normalizing them through transformation and merging them to be available to analyze is an important base technology

Net; Net:

There are compelling business reasons for finding patterns in order for organizations to survive, thrive and capitalize. There are emerging combinations of the supporting technologies, coming from one vendor that are gathering interest. These are know as process platforms (AKA iBPMS) that support intelligent business operations.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Road Schedule for 2014

If you are interested in having a conversation with me about any topics about process in the coming months, I thought you might appreciate seeing my schedule. I do love having conversations with folks over adult beverages, so here is my up coming schedule.


Date       City            Sponsor                      Content

3/10-11  San Diego  Kofax Transfom

3/17-18  Orlando     DST Advance

3/25-27  Pacific      BPM Next
             Grove CA

4/27-5/1 LasVegas  IBM Impact

6/9-10     DC         PegaWorld

Net; Net:

I look forward to spending time chatting with folks, but I would encourage you to attend user groups of these key BPM providers that appear on the Gartner iBPMS Magic Quadrant. What better way to understand how folks leverage these technologies for business results. I will be blogging at all these events to summarize my learning experience. I expect to speak at DST Advance, BPM Next & IBM Impact to share my knowledge and insights with folks.