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Mobile Bpm - Catapulting Organizations And Careers

Mobile Bpm - Catapulting Organizations And Careers

Competitive enterprises are accepting the reality that their IT applications must go mobile

. 270 million mobile devices shipped in 2010 - a 55 percent increase over 2009 (IDC 2010). By 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device (Gartner 2010). A mobilized workforce and set of enterprise processes offers a new level of value for organizations and their customers. But the cost of mobile application development can be very high - from $20K-$150K per application (Forrester Research, 2010). IT professionals who can "crack the nut" on mobility - in a cost-effective manner - will be organizational super-stars. This is where BPM for Mobile comes to the rescue.

In a previous article (written for a different website) called, "Where is Mobile BPM?," I outlined that Mobile BPM can liberate a process the same way Google liberated public information. In our "information everywhere" world, organizations have to push their systems out to customers, making their inner-most functional circles hurl toward the edge of the organization. This empowers not only field operations, but every member of the organization to form process tribes to serve the customer. However, "mobile-enabling" applications alone does not cut it. It merely changes the format and flexibility, but lacks the self-organizing principles of our normal social behavior. The exposure is limited to those directly involved in a process. Furthering existing process silos through mobility is not the answer. True native Mobile BPM, on the other hand shrinks the time to respond to customers and process events by orders of magnitude compared to what is possible today.

So you think Mobile Enabling alone is cool?

Mobile application exposure merely provides added flexibility to certain mobile organizational users, such as Sales. But it is another device, another form, another silo. A typical approach: You expose your supply chain to your field agents for direct tie-in with back end systems for real-time data integration. Have you considered if the customer has issues? It may not be the field agent's responsibility. Now your CRM system has to know about supply-chain events. Enter another integration point and another process silo. Additionally, what if there are billing issues with the business customer account? Now your finance department personnel and systems have to be involved. Another integration and process change. As your business evolves these changes are inevitable, but IT and systems change does not occur at the speed of business. To be clear, business managers are true business enablers making critical decisions to serve the customer only if:

a) They are informed of business events

b) They self-organize to take rapid action

If only IT systems and mobile apps could match the speed of business!

Great! Mobile alone isn't cool. Now what?

First, understand that every customer interaction overlaps with some other departmental work, another process, or business system, if only a little. Second, it is impossible to build a perfect end to end process that connects customers with organizations and all relevant people that touch that process. More importantly, business executives live in a summarized and reported world, mostly past tense and mostly abstract. They cannot drive decisions to the edges of the organizations, and must go through chained connections to get things done. Missed opportunities occur when process owners and operators are the ONLY hard-wired people in the process. Systems are really not very intelligent, people are; so do not make people wait for the system. Surface the information to your people. A great example is when a critical business event is surfaced by a BPM system through an easy and intuitive mobile and/or social interface. Stakeholders can first collaborate properly on that event and drive faster decisions. The data is not hidden in some summary report, or some weekly update meeting. It is right there at their fingertips - in real-time.

The Great Social Gap - the catapulting factor

Core process and its constituents are not longer the only target population. Instead, process observers complement the process execution by collaborating and driving decisions by swarming around relevant business events. An example: A field agent with a scheduled delivery for a customer with an issue could get a business hazard event that allows him/her escalate, open a case or collaborate with Customer Relations and/or Finance right at the drop time. Decisions can truly be driven in real time when all relevant persons swarm around a relevant event to resolve, escalate, or take action and avoid information blind-spots. Also, your executives can have real-time visibility into important business events without being part of every process everywhere. This allows them the flexibility to act and make strategic business decisions on the fly.

Your people would no longer be confined to the career box dictated by the process in which they are involved. This means new career opportunities for agents exposed to related processes (such as the delivery agent above). New-found visibility will allow them to drive more success as process observers by providing them true on-the-job training. This is about turning functional people into agents of change by avoiding typical process zigzags throughout the organization. It creates added career value at the intersection of functional roles, and allows for lateral career transitions as well as additional functional responsibility. Business process metrics could enable the best people to evolve into higher organizational roles based on their measured actions on relevant business events.

The Mobile and Social Best practice

The following list is a quick guide when thinking about Mobile/Social BPM to enable your enterprise:

-- Do not build the most comprehensive process possible replacing legacy systems; instead, expose legacy systems and application using enterprise BPM with mobile and social features.

-- Focus on exposing relevant business events from legacy systems to the process owners/operators and extend properly to process observers and those how can take actions on these events.

-- Do not attempt to conceive of every possible task, exception, escalation, and rule to address events. Instead, let your process observers complement your core process owners and drive social ad-hoc business decisions.

-- Expose relevant metrics not only to your executives and process owners, but also to observers who can seize opportunities to drive success at the edge of the process.

-- Your mobile BPM should allow for these events and socialization to occur without having to develop and release discrete mobile applications. Remember that you don't want to further process silos.

Enterprise mobility/Mobile BPM is inevitable, but the potential value must be weighed against the high cost of mobile application development. Using an advanced BPM suite to mobilize enterprise processes dramatically reduces the cost. Following the best practices outlined above helps ensure success. This means value for the organization, new opportunities for line-of-business employees, and career advancement for the IT leaders who make it possible.

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