This year I’m co-organizing with Davide Rossi and a bunch of experts in Business Process Management and Enterprise Architecture a new event called BPM-EA, which aims at bringing together the broad topics of business processes, modeling, and enterprise architecture.
While attending the BPM Europe Conference 2012, I started by following the seminar by Sandy Kemsley on Social Business Process Management.
She brought up a large set of interesting issues related to Social BPM:
Social BPM dimensions
- Structure: how much structured is the process
- Internal Collaboration: how much internal collaboration the process allows
- External Involvement: how many external actors can be involved
- Predefined participants
- Selection of participants from a predefined set of enabled ones
- Selection of any participants or participants self-selection
This is also close to the continuum of social BPM, but again focusing on one specific orthogonalized aspect at a time.
Social as a feature or as an application?
Process event streams
Organization and Impacts
|The social BPM maturity gap. Internal: above, orange line. External: below, yellow line.|
- internal versus external social business (Y axis)
- business maturity level (X axis)
A huge discussion is ongoing on how to implement the social enterprise paradigm and on why it doesn’t seem to deliver as expected.
Obviously, social enterprise is a broad term that comprises a large number of very diverse problems addressed and solutions that can be adopted, within a variety of business scenarios (including social CRM, social BPM and many more).
I think there is a common problem that needs to be solved for each of them: how much to empower the users / workers with respect to keeping in control of the business.
I see a continuous set of possibilities here, but I tried to summarize them in a discrete set of 5 options, as reported in the figure below.
Let’s assume a simplified model with two user stereotypes:
- internal user: representing a human resource formally enrolled in the enterprise activities and in charge of some tasks or responsibility. For instance, in case of BPM, this would be one of the users assigned a role in the BP and in charge of performing one or more process activities.
- external user: representing any actor (from within the company, from partners or third party enterprises, or even from the end user base) that is not formally in charge of any task, but that do contribute somehow to the business through his/her social interactions, feedback and so on.
|The continuum of the social enterprise options when deciding how to exploit the social assets.|
The possible solutions that can be implemented are:
- No social enterprise: the company performs its business in a traditional and completely structured way, without exploiting weak ties, informal interactions, user feedbacks. Everything is performed through the some enterprise software platform.
- Empowered enterprise: the company applies some user/worker empowerment by allowing external users to contribute through a social networks. In this case, the actual business is run through the enterprise software platform; the users on the social network have limited interaction options, while the ones on the enterprise platform are enabled to perform the entirety of the needed tasks.The internal user still plays a predominant role here and decides if and when to exploit the actions and events coming from the social platform.
- Enterprise democracy: the company adopts a completely transparent policy and lets the external users perform the same actions that internal users can do.
- Enterprise view: the company role in this case is to get a view on any kind of complex interactions or behaviour on a social network. In this case the role of the internal user is quite diminished, because he is basically just collecting feedbacks or statistics on the action, while the actual activity is performed on the social network.
- Only social: this is the most unstructured scenario, where everything is run on the social basis and there is no actual structured activity ongoing on it.
These 5 scenarios are all good in principle, but if you move to the real business some of them are more important than others.
Let’s keep out the two extremes: we are not interested in the non-social case here, and on the other side the completely social one doesn’t make much sense in a business setting (actually, even in the pure social network platforms there are some analyses and tasks run by internals, which position the case in the scenario number 4).
Empowered enterprise is probably the most sensible scenario, and I can imagine a lot of situations where this can apply (most of the Social BPM cases for instance).
Enterprise democracy, although positioned in the middle, is quite extreme in considering the role of social contributions. At the moment I can’t see any real scenario where to apply this. If you have some, feel free to share it.
Enterprise view instead is typical of several situations where the social behaviour needs to be observed for understanding the positioning of the enterprise (think about social CRM, social Marketing, opinion trend analysis and so on).
Please let me know if you are aware of any other sensible scenario you recognized, and please share also real / realistic cases you experienced.
Today I participated, together with an impressive number of world-renowned experts in BPM, to a hectic tweet jam on Social BPM.
I curated a (slightly remixed) recording of the session, which is available here (http://storify.com/marcobrambi/socialbpm) and embedded below.
The participation was so intense that it was really hard to keep the pace of the discussion (especially because I was having a conf call in parallel), so the recording has been definitely useful.
To get an idea, here are the final statistics on the discussion: 521 tweets generated 375,886 impressions, reaching an audience of 24,348 followers.
When I went through the contribution, I found a lot of hidden pearls that I missed.
Overall, my impression is the following: despite some criticism on the term “Social BPM”, I would say there is wide consensus on the need of integrating rigid BPM approaches with others that consider user interactions as crucial value for the enterprise. To my surprise, several experts (including Nathaniel Palmer and Clay Richardson) agree that there is a substantial request for these technologies by customers, especially in “non-traditional” scenarios. On the other side, the state of the art of the tools and systems is still perceived as weak or only partially addressing the actual needs.
This is definitely encouraging because it leaves a lot of space for research, improvement, and exciting evolutions in the field.
http://storify.com/marcobrambi/socialbpm.js&amp;amp;lt;a href=”http://storify.com/marcobrambi/socialbpm” target=”_blank”&amp;amp;gt;View “Social BPM discussion and tweetjam” on Storify&amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;gt;
Keith Swenson keynote speech at the Social Business Forum2011 on the Quantum Enterprise
On this, you can directly look at the slides that the author put on SlideShare:
In this post I wish to summarize the opinions and the discussions on the hot topic Social BPM. I think this provides a good understanding of the topic and a feeling on the debate that is still ongoing. If you know about other useful references, feel free to add them (self-citations are also welcome). Also, if you are cited and you think your position is not well represented by the quote, feel free to detail it.
One further valuable resource is the Social BPM handbook that will be available starting June 2011,on which I also wrote a chapter on A Model-driven Approach to Social BPM Applications.
|Uhoh. Social BPM in the real world? [Thanks to Jim Sinur for pointing this out. Credits for Dilbert: Scott Adams]|
“Proper use of social software will be about individuals producing, publishing and running their own processes. Not collaboration on the design phase, but designing individually, and collaborating with a completed process. This won’t just be the BPM lifecycle using social software, it will be the elimination of the BPM lifecycle, the elimination of a design phase, the elimination of the separation between designers and workers.”
“Everyone could be a writer in the blogosphere, but in reality, only a tiny fraction of those who read blogs actually write blogs, or even comment on blogs. The same will likely occur in runtime collaboration in BPM: only a fraction of users will design processes, even though all have the capability to do so, but all will benefit from it.”
“There is a paradigm shift happening in the way that organizations understand control. Control no longer means that management dictates every action that every employee takes, but rather that appropriate levels of control are given to everyone so that they can control their environment and make it most effective for their tasks at hand.”
“The introduction of social features in business processes can be achieved at different levels, according to a spectrum of possibilities: from closed BPM to Participatory Design, Participatory enactment, Social enactment, and Process Mining.”
“I’m becoming convinced that the way to gain value is to combine computer-based sociality with computer-based structure. […] The combination of the social and structuring aspects of technology ensures that online social activities are oriented to getting work done. The addition of structure makes everyone more conscious of the work tasks at hand, which limits the desire for purely social interaction. ”
“It’s just a matter of time before organisations will be purchasing Twitter-like software for their internal use, and BPM will need to adapt to this new environment. Yes, Google Wave failed. But that doesn’t mean that the trend is dead.. Other companies are building Twitter for Business applications”
“On the one hand, some feel that social BPM is all about tools and technology (i.e., process wikis, process mashups, etc.). And on the other hand, I see another camp emerging that believes social BPM should focus on transforming the organization and the organization’s processes. I say, they’re both right. We see customers adopting social BPM along a continuum.”
“Social networks have already profoundly changed our lives. Usage of social media will create a similar impact on BPM design and implementation. Will it create a new type of BPM or just a new way of BPM implementation remains to be seen.”
Social BPM: Is It Social, or is It BPM?
Open question by Peter Schooff (with some responses below)
Michael zur Muehlen:
“If you only focus on streamlining process execution and making it as efficient as possible the social aspect diminishes. But if you consider process discovery, the development of a shared understanding of what your operations look like, and monitoring your process environment, then social plays a big role. Social is all about providing context, a rich environment of data points that a streamlined workflow would be lacking otherwise. The challenge is to make this context useful, both from a social networking perspective and from an unstructured data perspective.”
“Social BPM is basically just collaborative business process management utilizing a collective network environment – it’s about extending BPM access and decision-making to partners and select external parties without compromising the exclusivity of the core group.”
“Basically social capabilities are now assumed to be baked into BPM offerings. I think the real question now is how do you move your organization to harness social BPM capabilities.”
“The future of social BPM lies in developing the best way to leverage social media tools to promote collaboration and coordination in the workplace – on an enterprise basis with a meaningful contribution to the business.”
“In general, social software systems record what is happening now and in the past, but for the most part completely lack any representation of the future. Enterprise Social Software, or Social Business Software, will succeed only if it has some representation of goals or other future activities.”
Will social BPM supercharge BPM?, Thomas J. Olbrich.
“My view would be that we need to become more social where it helps. But let’s not overreach and hold company-wide opinion polls during process design and implementation. Social in the sense of making room for qualified input is fine, process anarchy is not.”
“I will argue that more than 50% of the information and data used to complete business processes is communicated outside of the formality of business process technologies today. Chat programs, emails, standing in front of the coffee machine in the AM, and passing people in the hall are easy and convenient channels of vital information exchange. […] There is no reason to start employing any existing Social BPM or Social Technology application today without first understanding the state of “chaos” you have today.”
Realizing the Promise of BPM Software: Forrester Says Social BPM Extends Process Participation, Ben Farrell http://www.appian.com/blog/2011/05/04/realizing-the-promise-of-bpm-software-forrester-says-social-bpm-extends-process-participation
“BPM software will only reach its true potential when more people inside (and outside) the organization get involved. Social BPM is a great way to extend the reach and impact of the technology across an organization – to get more people to “Be Part of the Process”. […] Run-time social BPM means you get real-time feedback on how well a process is working. It means process bottlenecks can be identified and resolved, and processes improved, faster.”
During process design, teams leverage social tools to more easily engage stakeholders in process discovery and definition, including frontline workers, customers, and partners. For process development, some process pros turn to social and Web 2.0 tools by using BPM software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. And during process execution, teams leverage social to support dynamic business processes.
“I’ll admit, ‘social’ can strike fear into the hearts of the traditionalist (and/or control freak), and social BPM is no different. Will making my processes open to all lead to chaos and anarchy? I would argue the opposite is true.”
Tapping into Collective Knowledge Will Drive Unstructured Process Activity, Jim Sinur
“When organizations aggressively tap into collective knowledge inside and out side their organizations, BPM will have to behave differently. BPM will have to support morphing work driven by emerging goals and dynamic decisions and be able to identify potential best practices.”
“If refining in Business Processes Management (BPM) was all the rage in the eighties, then leveraging the power of emergent processes seems to be the focus and challenge of today’s businesses. “
“To enable organizational agility, decision makers need to be able to adapt quickly in the face of change. An ECM system with flexible BPM tools is a necessary foundation to have in place before putting a Social BPM methodology into practice.”
“If you need to fuse the structural benefits of BPM with the collaborative potential of social technology, you won’t find it in the products currently being marketed as “social BPM”. Rather, you need to look elsewhere, for […] “collaborative planning””
“My purpose is to point out that the current hype for social BPM is unjustified, which cannot be a good thing either for consumers or vendors. If you try Blueworks Live expecting a solution for high-level knowledge work, you will only come away disappointed.”
“So what is social BPM(S)? At its core “social” means collaboration and communication. It can mean collaboration and communication that occurs during normal course of business i.e. when a business process is in flight. This is interaction (such as email, phone conversations etc.) between users that usually happens outside the context of a typical (non-social?) BPMS. The ability to collaborate with others in the organization is a definite plus for all internal users.”