Is Social BPM over already?

If you haven’t already read it take a look at Adam Deane’s take on Social BPM. As he points out, current vendors have added social capability to traditional BPM products and now we’re waiting to see what happens. There are a few vendors reporting some interesting behavior developing among their users which is encouraging. But Adam’s conclusion, which I agree with whole heartedly, is that if ‘Social BPM’ is helping BPM become more widely adopted then that’s a good thing.

There are others out there that claim the conversation has moved on. That social is about empowerment and BPM does anything but empower workers (Max Pucher). Or that BPM represents a Newtonian view of organizational management that is being replaced by the quantum organization (Keith Swenson). In this view ‘social’ and ‘BPM’ cannot co-exist, a completely new form of work organization is required as embodied by Adaptive Case Management (ACM).

I agree with this view, to a point. I am beginning to understand ACM and the benefits it brings but I do not believe BPM is a lost cause, or that Social BPM is not a relevant approach. The problem lies in the definition of BPM. Even within a well-established and mature industry it is difficult to get consensus. But that’s not the problem; the problem is in the way that BPM is seen as a constant. That what BPM meant in the year 2000 is the same as it means today and the same as it will mean tomorrow.

The fact is Business, Process and Management are three words open to interpretation. As BPM vendors add new functionality and explore new areas they are constantly changing its meaning. When BPM practitioners find new and innovative ways to deliver more value from BPM projects they are changing what BPM means for them and their clients.

Like management practices in general we are constantly learning new ways to apply BPM, some work and some don’t. Some approaches work better for some organizations than others. This is one of the things that makes work exciting for us as practitioners, the chance to innovate and create something new no matter how small that change may seem at the time. The bottom line is BPM can and is changing and making BPM more social has to be a good thing.

For this reason I believe that Social BPM as an approach is valid although it may not have been fully defined yet. I am excited about ACM and believe it is part of the future but ACM, BPM and SocialBPM are different things and there is potential for each to play its own role in the future organization. Is Social BPM over already? No, it’s just getting started.

10 thoughts on “Is Social BPM over already?

  1. Pingback: The BPM challenge of structure versus creativity | BPM For Real

  2. Craig, in order for BPM to eat its own dog food as it were it needs to be constantly evolving and morphing alongside the organizations that are choosing it as their “constitution” if you will. Social or collaboration or “everybody’s opinion matters” is just a means to an end. Who knows, maybe tomorrow we’ll all be able to change processes based on our moods with sophisticated mood detection devices and the word BPM will have “Mood controlled” in front of it.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting,

      “Mood controlled BPM” – so would the flow charts change color depending on mood, or you could trigger a particularly nasty process if you were late to the office! 🙂

      As long as we keep challenging BPM it’s got to get better.

  3. I think future BPM is “Self-correcting BPM” that will automatically drop any prefix you put in-front of BPM like ‘Adaptive’, ‘Dynamic’, ‘ Social‘, ‘Lean’, and it returns to just plain, simple and beautiful BPM 🙂 Ooops it just dropped ‘Self-correcting’ from name…darn it! You Smart BPM…yet again? …BPM.

    • Agreed, eventually all vendors will include some form of social capability and Social BPM will just be BPM. The concept will persist and the differentiator will be how those capabilities improve the business.

  4. Excellent post, I agree wholeheartedly. I love your tag line about automating the boring stuff so we can focus on the more interesting. (I might add a sardonic extension that the more interesting is also more stressful…) You really hit the nail on the head when you say “The fact is Business, Process and Management are three words open to interpretation”

    “Vendors have added social capability” reminds me of 1996 when some vendors “added web capability.” Taking an existing approach, and adding access to a new paradigm is the first thing that the entrenched vendors do, but like most disrupting technological changes, it misses the real potential.

    Social technology is so popular now, that every xxx is going to become “social xxx” and as Ajay rightly points out, we will thereafter think of it as simply “xxx”. I think there is a lot of room for current BPM vendors to continue to add more social capabilities, and this will continue to advance over the next 5 to 10 years.

    The real promise of social technology is that it makes humans more intelligent. It makes everything more intelligent, but it is interesting to focus on the changes that will occur with the increase in human capability. This will make case manager far more effective than they have been able to be in the past. That power to flexibly handle unique situations with unique responses will, for some situations, outstrip any advantage that “automation” can bring. So I am with you, and excited about the potential of ACM, not as a competitor of BPM, but simply a different approach for different problems.

    Great blog, and it even has fuzzy kittens!

  5. Keith, thanks for the support.

    What’s exciting me the most is the way that adding the word ‘social’ to BPM changes the conversation. Love or hate the term everyone has an opinion on it. And when those opinions clash new ideas are created.

    I’m looking forward to exploring this further!

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  7. Pingback: Acronym tennis, BPM back on center court | Human Automation

  8. Pingback: Acronym tennis, BPM back on center court | Human Automation | Business Process and Adaptive Case Management News and Information

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