Thursday, February 26, 2015

Process is Going Viral: Get on Board or Get Out of the Way !!

As much as we hear about not having a common definition of what a process really is, process is going viral anyways. What are the reasons for this explosion of process? One is that process has delivered on the benefits of revenue lift and cost containment while delivering time to market visible innovation without losing sight of visibility, accountability and governance. The other is that process is getting easier and is no longer the domain of the cloistered few with colored belts of honor. I think there are five big areas driving the growth. There are others, but these are the "big rocks" making ripples in the pond from my perspective.

Process Modeling in the Cloud:

Cloud is helping process deliver in many ways, but modeling in the cloud allows for high levels of collaboration across skills sets, geography and organizational boundaries and levels is big. It really doesn't matter is you are trying to understand the processes in place or trying to design a target model. the cloud creates a great place to collaborate safely.

Light Weight Processes as Prototypes:

In an era that puts a premium on failing fast to make adjustments to move forward and deliver for opportunities quickly, processes are spot on the money. In this "do it, try it, fix it" world that is energized by agile development, processes hit the mark. Even if they end up as a specification for a more involved effort, process benefits can be tried and realized quickly.

Differentiating Process Wrappers:

Everybody is stuck with legacy, bespoke or bought, that holds back business differentiation. Creating a hybrid process or application that wraps existing non-differentiating systems and code with innovative and forward thinking combinations of features and function is another fast growing area of process growth,

Smart Process Applications:

If time to market and starting with better or best practice jump starts is your thing, pre-built processes with levers of adjustable interfaces and features is a reasonable answer. This is important when you don't have the skill sets necessary or the patience to develop them over time. Some of these application leverage some of the key emerging capabilities, such as social, mobile, cloud and big data analytic technologies for you,

Incremental Transformation:

It is always the dream to start small and have all of your efforts end up in big change. This is happening in many industries and the demands for a better customer experience to win the revenue generation battle. In an era where smaller competitors can compete with the giants of an industry sector, the emphasis on non-disruptive incremental change and transformation with process is gathering momentum quickly.

Net; Net: 

The old ways of doing things are falling away "TIMBER !!!" and being replaced with the latest process habits, emerging features and speed for innovation with differentiating behaviors. Hang on to this rocket as it is moving business up and out of gravity's pull. What a time for process, even though we can't all agree on what BPM means. Pretty interesting problem to have :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

IBM's InterConnect 2015 is Really a New Way Called Hybrid

IBM is really driving the point home with real case studies this time for it's audience of 21000+ participants at this years InterConnect. As IBM revs it's engines with it's aggregated and focused technologies, it is starting to impact businesses in ways I haven't seen for a long time. On the mobile front, IBM paraded many client success stories that included innovation as well as linking differentiating business functionality on top of legacy application and technologies. If fact IBM is putting hybrid as a theme for cloud, decisions and process. While I did not get to attend any IoT sessions, I suspect the similar hybrid theme was there though real time plays a bigger role and might be difficult to combine with slower application assets.  The Digital Transformation is playing a key role in IBM's New Way and many of the trickle down sessions plugged back into building infrastructure, skills and partnerships to deliver that transformation. To IBM's credit, they had many real examples and case studies. Some ideas were still in the early mode, but they still had spotlight shops that had something implemented. Good for IBM.

Mobile First:

I saw real case studies that used customer journeys and were actually aimed at young and innovate social focused customers.

Hybrid Cloud:

I saw real case studies that went beyond the normal cost cutting efforts by eliminating capital equipment and software to actual processes that delivered business benefits

Cognitive Computing:

I saw real case studies where Watson, good for knowledge work, applied heavily in several medical examples. IBM also realizes that there is more to the man / machine balance than an assist from just Watson.  More to come.

Smart Process:

I saw a number of interesting case studies around process, but they seemed to be some repeats from Impact 2014. I would like some more fresh and large scale process portfolio successes. Hybrid shared processes across organizations; not just opportunistic coupling of API apps even though they were interesting.

Big Data Analytics: 

I repeatedly heard of the importance of real time analysis of growing cashes of event, social, IoT and traditional operational data.

Net; Net:

While the kinks in the two mega hotel logistics and the complexity of combining three conferences in one got in the way many times, IBM ponied up great content and stories to overcome the pain of a difficult venue. I can't wait until next year as I have to leave early afternoon tomorrow, but it will be interesting if clients can make many of IBM's rich technologies work together without intense IBM support.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Process in the Emerging Digital Age

Processes will have to behave differently and include new features as organizations move to the digital age and the impact will be rather wide spread. The BPM community is already starting to see evidence of  leading organizations leveraging new behaviors, new technologies and new process patterns to deliver better products and services in ways that meet or exceed customer expectations. As businesses transform to a 21st century digital organization, processes will likely lead the way with new behaviors. Going digital is a big and important step for organizations, so wrapping an organizations collective mind around these new processes that leverage these new behavior patterns. The burning question is should this bear a name different than BPM?

New Process Behaviors:

While BPM has delivered large benefit pools leveraging model driven, agile and low code approaches. Many organizations have used processes to survive economic downturns through cost containment. In addition, many organization have learned to leverage visibility, usability, knowledge and agility to deliver differentiation to grow and thrive. Going digital will require organizations to become innovative in the creating a new balance between man and machine to create predictive and goal driven processes that can be guided by the customers changing needs and emerging scenarios without violating governance constraints. Today these new behaviors will allow organizations to capitalize on their processes to out maneuver others, but over time these behaviors will become primal.

Inclusion of Emerging Trends:

Recently, organizations have seen the power of the inclusion of the social, mobile & cloud based trends in our processes and the benefits are tasty. Organizations can't afford to stop there and they need to include the events enabled big data and real time poly-analytic features for better decisions and actions at the speed of business. This isn't the end of the journey as the two new major entrants of the internet of things (IoT) and cognitive computing have to be incorporated as well. There is no rest for all of us to stay ahead of the change.

New Hybrid Process Patterns:

Today processes have been focused on a limited set of styles that are narrow in their application. There are the predictable structured processes that can only flex by changing the flows, rules and services orchestrated. Also there are flexible cases driven approaches that do not lock the sequence of progress, but rely in interaction to lead to either fixed or adaptable milestones. The newest approach is driven by the edge of a processes where the process dynamically assemble based on the emerging needs of multiple and diverse resources. The way going forward will combine the various patterns in a hybrid fashion, just in time to deliver goals within acceptable governance constraints. The hybrid approach combines emerging patterns and behaviors with structured patterns, This is hard to picture, but the following blog post will help.

Net; Net:

The process pundits and vendors will line up to change the name of process discipline from BPM to something else. I think the savvy organizations will line up to plan an incremental approach to becoming a digital organization and learn how to manage change in a more effective way. They are likely to start small and deliver big change incrementally. Some organizations will risk their businesses and wait until the big brands deliver a more structured and formal approach to buy and bet on big change. I'm not sure the latter strategy is viable in a fast changing world, but we will see.

Early Examples of Digital Processes:

Additional Reading:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Changing Goals: Resetting the Aim for Your Processes

More and more processes today have the ability to change the goals and rules without redeveloping or maintaining the processes flow or case. This means that we will have to keep strong focus on what can change those goals and outcomes of a process or group of processes. There are three major sources of goal changes that would allow for a reconfiguration of the process resources, milestones and tolerances. Those sources are visual metrics, emerging patterns, or business scenarios. The metrics, of course, are the most reactionary and the planned scenarios are more long range focused. The emerging patterns are in the middle to the timing continuum.

Visual Metrics:

Metrics, especially tied to tolerances, that are projected on dashboards to the masses are bound to trigger the need for a change in goals over time. If things are out of tolerance, the speed to change the goals will be fast. If there are ideas around better outcomes over time, the timing of goal adjustments will run a bit longer. There might even be projects started to augment an existing process or resource.

Emerging Patterns:

Patterns of interest, which can range from unusual exceptions to aggregated market signals might initiate a goal change. Any interesting event of combination of events might be analyzed for a goal change or the recognition of an emerging or planned scenario. There is generally more time to react with goal changes in these situations, but when competition heats up timing might become more critical.

Business Scenarios:

Planning cultures tend to seek out scenarios that are either opportunities or threats and generate inventories of awaiting goals, rules or constraints for change situations. Quite often these scenarios are embellished and assisted by simulation software to determine proper innovation and change responses. It also helps if some creative types are aimed at thinking out of the box to identify "Black Swans" to add to the scenario inventory.

Net; Net:

Goal changes are a necessity in a more volatile world and these changes can engender efforts that range from small to large scale responses. Those organizations that have processes that are built for change, will benefit most in terms of time and cost of response. Organizations are encouraged to consider volatility in their process designs and execution of processes.

Additional Reading:

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Dramatic Shift in Customer Experience via Journey Mapping

Quite often organizations do not have a real handle on the reasons that customers leave them. It is easy to become enamored with your own products and services. When customers leave it’s painful for everyone.  This is a case study of one companies approach to creating customer experience (CX) journey maps to help identify opportunities for relational improvements and better outcomes.

The Challenge:

A financial services company, began to experience unexpected attrition with new customers.  The company, seeking to rectify the situation, considered investing in additional Customer Service training, technology and process improvement to address customer needs better.  A consulting organization was engaged to assist their efforts to identify the real root cause of the problem.

The Solution:

The approach leveraged a unique approach to Customer Experience (CX) Strategy and Journey Mapping.  Interviews were held with key internal leaders and all stakeholders that had direct interaction with the customer, including sales, partners, legal, customer service, training, IT/web and more. Leveraging internal insights, 50 customers were interviewed, as well as additional customers surveyed, to better understand the holistic end-to-end experience.  All customer touchpoints were identified and a holistic CX Journey Map was developed in a joint workshop with the client to visually depict all of the touchpoints the customer had with the company, as well as touchpoints the customer had with third parties (competitors, social media, blogs, news, etc.) that influenced their perception and experience with our client.

The Insights:

Internal insights revealed a very reactive relationship with the customer, as well as a single channel approach to servicing customer accounts.  Customers highlighted the current interactions as limited, with an efficient process handling unpleasant and often negative interactions. Customers consistently mentioned a lack of understanding around the overall process, including when they would receive specific benefits they had been promised. The interactions reflected a high level of customer effort, as they were forced into a single channel (phone) that was not always preferred or easy to use. Further analysis showed while the company’s interactions were mainly reactive, competitors and other interested parties were interacting with the company’s customers constantly, negatively impacting the customer’s view of the value of the services they had just purchased. It was also uncovered that the quality monitoring of partners was inadequate to prevent low quality sales and inappropriate customer expectations.

The Results:

A future state Customer Experience Journey Map was developed to reflect the environment customers wanted to leverage, including new channels such as self-service, chat, significantly improved education materials (available online) and more. New, proactive touchpoints were implemented to provide timely information to clients. A quality program was implemented to ensure partners and employees understood and properly communicated benefits and expectations to clients. As a result of these efforts, retention increased 13% in 3 months with an associated increase in revenue and increased CSAT scores across the board.  Call volume dropped as interactions were moved to the other, more efficient channels opened, yielding double digit cost savings.  Solution and results summarized below.

Net; Net:

It’s easy to throw money at bad processes and educating your workers, but before you pull that trigger, it’s important to get a handle on the real situation from your customer’s perspective.

This is a highly summarized and anonymous case study provided by Major Oak Consulting; a Verint Company.

 Additional Reading:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cognitive Computing Book is a Must Read

If you buy the idea that machine intelligence is a good thing or not, it's coming on strong from a number of directions. From a thinking perspective, we will need super fast machine intelligence to sort out all the uses for the big data we are gathering. From a sensing perspective we need a machine assist to work on the human to machine interface. Certainly dealing with the Internet of things, that operates in a nano-second mode will require forms of machine intelligence. Today, we see intelligent personal assistants helping doctors with treatment plan options and their relative statistical success rates to support combating cancer. It's a matter of time before a personal assistant might help you with dealing with customers as a generalist instead of a specific and narrow function such as billing.

Why Take Time and Read This Guide for Game Changers?

If you want a preview of where the next generation of digital platforms are going
If you want to gain a lay of the cognitive computing land for planning purposes
If you want to challenge your critical thinking process and get ready for the change
If you want something that is powerful while condensed to save time
If you want something well written and easily consumable for basic understanding

Peter Fingar does a great job of getting one introduced to the Cognitive Computing era and challenges your mind to see new opportunities as this era rolls out in the next decade or two. This is a must read primer and can peak your interest for further reading. While there are scary ethical issues that surround this kind of technology, it will be a great help to extend the knowledge and power of humans and the organizations they deal with as an employee, customer, stock holder or partner. I particularly like scanner links to helpful videos, but I made sure I wasn't on a flight to leverage these over my phone. This is a must read and it is reasonably priced.

Where Can I Get This Book?

See the Following for Additional Reading: