Will 2012 Herald The End Of Business Process Management?




business process management

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must be aware that the Mayan calendar is ending next week. Some people actually believe that the world around us is going to end (also thanks to movies like 2012). For us, the world around us is BPM. So, what if this means the end of BPM? As scary as it sounds, some of the developments in 2012 can make this true. Here are the 4 major developments that have the potential to end the BPM world as we know it:

1. The Task Management boom will kill the Case Management market

Case management and task management evolved from 2 different market needs:

  • Task management is a way to structure emails.
  • Case management is a way to destructure workflows.

These 2 markets met in the middle (at the intersection of emails and workflows) with a number of similar characteristics. Both are not constrained by process diagrams. They don’t follow a sequence of process steps. Instead, tasks/cases can be assigned to any activity at any time. As it stands today, there is too much overlap between these 2 markets and one market has to die.

Task management market has already generated a lot of hype (and therefore market awareness). So the likely candidate to die is the case management market.Business Process Management vendors will have to re-brand their case management software as task management software or pack their bags.

2. Document management is now file sharing on the cloud

Christoph F. Strnadl made an interesting comment in a LinkedIn group about the BPM matrix that I published last month. He disagreed with my definition that document management system is applicable for structured processes combined with unstructured data (only). Instead, he argued that the classical document management systems absolutely do not require any form of structured process to be present, even less so a structured one. He has a point!

However, this use case puts document management on a weak wicket. The cloud-based file sharing software like Dropbox, Box and Google Drive can replace this use case in the blink of an eye. Let’s ask this question: will a Google Apps customer buy a document management software? Unlikely. They will use Google Drive instead.

The task management and workflow apps in Google Apps marketplace (including KiSSFLOW) will use Google Drive as the document management system for a unified user experience. So the document management forte is bound to go out of BPM vendors’ hands and will be replaced by file sharing software on the cloud.

3. Social media integration is walled and unpredictable

CRM is a crucial area that needs business process improvement. Social media, the latest entrant into this field has thrown the customer feedback and word-of-mouth process in disarray. New breed on integration tools like IFTTT and Zapier have sprung up to address this challenge and streamline the lead and customer workflows in the CRM.

When everything was on track, revenue pressures forced social media sites like Twitter to build a wall around them, breaking these integration tools. While Twitter seems to be encouraging enterprise usage, social media integration is likely to be a slippery slope in the future. 2012 will be remembered as the year of bloom and doom for social media integration tools, even before they met their enterprise BPM counterpart. RIP!

4. Business process design for business users finally arrives

The final word on 2012 is not from me. Daniele Chenal in a discussion about the most significant development for BPM in 2012, says:

For over a decade, Business Process Management (software that is) has been sold as a tool for business. Point and click, drag and drop, blah, blah, blah – all true, but still not for business users. At least not the emailing, spreadsheet tracking business users I am used to working with.

I think what Kissflow is doing with their Google Apps solution and Handysoft is doing with Quick Process brings hope to the idea that business people can actually create, publish, use and reuse an automated process…really.

While these solutions are certainly not going to overhaul core business processes, they do get at the sea of processes still driven by spreadsheets, paper and PDF forms. I hope these solutions are a glimpse into a future of BPM that is truly wizard driven and business user friendly. You know the old saying, “less is more”.

That sums it up! The Business Process Management platform that we know of will wither, lose all the bells and whistles, and will emerge as a simple and easy tool eventually. Of course, this is not the first time someone has predicted the end of BPM. So let’s keep our fingers crossed as the new year unfolds.

What are your thoughts? If you are unhappy about this prediction, go ahead and flame away. Disagreements are welcome too!