Applications, Business Process and the Cloud

In the last 30 years I’ve seen a plethora of trends in the software market. The two that currently dominate both A&M activity and end user buying behaviour are BPM and Cloud computing.
I have searched in vain to find an organisation that is truely process focused and has used BPM to derive Activity Based Costings across their business. This led me to thinking about what are the barriers and why aren’t companies achieving value from their BPM initiatives.
BPM is bought by many IT departments as panacea to the problem they have of trying to bridge the gap between user demands and their capacity to deliver. The slick vendor “Proof of Concepts” convince them that time to market and RoI are at their fingertips. Yet the first deployment in my experience is always a classic application that is owned by IT and not the business process owner. People are making the same mistakes with BPM as they did before with BI and CRM.
In my view this is because the process owner fails to establish the measures of success for the project upfront and IT let this happen. When requirements creep sets in, hey presto it’s an application delivered in 6 man months that has no reuseable components and is a nightmare to maintain.
The labour model for BPM projects is the single most important decision in the project. Get this right and you have a team capable of building a cross discipline centre of excellence that can transform your business processes into value based processes that give automation, control, visibility and measurement.
Which leads me to the Cloud wave if you pardon the mixed metaphors! SaaS as an opex model was championed by frustrated users (those bullish sales types) that flocked to Salesforce et al. For todays graduates that are lucky to get a job, they land in a strange environment; the tools they use personally like Facebook, Twitter, I-Tunes and all the other social media tools are locked out behind the firewall of the enterprise they work in; they can’t even watch a YouTube video if they work for a government department. The usual tools they use to learn, communicate and get things done are taken away and they get indoctrinated in the “one size fits all” corporate computing domain that is suffocated by IT budget restrictions and complexity.
It strikes me that in the next 5 years it will be this user community that accelerates cloud / paas / saas solutions as a means of breaking down the firewall in order to do their jobs effectively as knowledge workers. IT will still own security / data / WAN but will anyone spend a fortune on in-house systems and networks as productivity tools or will people build their own virtual communications groups in the cloud that are permission based and have preference based disclosure? Chatter from salesforce is an early example of where I believe collaboration / convergence and content will collapse into one platform.
I guess there’s along way to go with BPM and Cloud but I can’t stop thinking that if all each organisation did effectively was one end to end process in 2010 and they experimented using the cloud to deliver it and MEASURE the results how many more they’d plan to do in 2011.

About Peter Borner

Peter is an entrepreneur and successful business leader. Currently leading a consultancy firm specialising in technical diligence for M&A and advising global firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies.

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