Craig Le Clair shared the stage this morning with Steven J Spear (author of the book “Chasing the Rabbit” and new book “The High-Velocity Edge“) to talk about complex business situations and how to support them.As you might already know, Craig has been the leading of the Case Management initiative at Forrester, having co-authored with Connie Moore the white paper “An Old Idea Catches New Fire” and then in Jan 2011 together with Derek Miers published the Case Management Wave. Connie Moore introduced the session mentioning that they have been talking about “untamed” processes that are unpredictable and dynamic, along with investigating how to achieve high velocity organizations. Makes me wonder if these terms are purposefully aimed to coordinate with the latest WfMC book: Taming the Unpredictable which was launched at the event. There are a lot of parallels.
At this Forrester BPM Forum, there has been a lot of discussion about customer experience. Don’t confuse this with technical user experience (UX). Customer experience really about how your business is leveraging social media and mobile to interact with customers in both directions. Connie says that customer experience is the other side of the business process coin.
Craig got my attention with this decidedly bold statement:
Process approaches of the past are increasingly irrelevant and a barrier to innovation.
He is talking about how traditional pre-determined business processes make companies fixed and inflexible. He told a story about how a bank requires him to provide his own information multiple times, but a pizza shop recognized his call, knew his order history and preferences. It is this kind of personalization that all businesses are going to need to adopt, and there is no reason why a bank shouldn’t. The challenge is offering this personalization at scale.
A case management approach is needed to allow font line workers (and maybe even customers) to be in control of their processes. This does not mean that packaged applications go away: Packaged applications are a structured part of the process. The case environment allows users to bring these existing fixed applications together at run time. He sees consumer (networking) technology as the thing driving a need for these more flexible processes.
Some claim that we have lost a decade. In the past ten years, 75% of IT spend is consumed by maintenance and upgrades. IT departments are trying to meet the business needs by customizing a layer on top. For SAP implementations there is typically a 10 to 1 services to license ratio. Enterprises are stuck in cement, unable to rapidly change. This gap can be closed by using not only processes that “control” but also processes that “engage”.
One key is going to be a what he calls a “federated deployment model” where apps from the cloud are linked cooperatively with apps that stay on-premises — I think some call this a hybrid cloud model. Companies have to move away from managing and maintaining their own IT infrastructure, and the cloud is the answer, but it won’t all happen at once.
He sees processes in the year 2020 as escaping the current situation, and moving to being more customer controlled and centered with mobile platforms as the primary point of entry, using a mix of internal and cloud processes, and with customer based metrics aligned to strategic objectives. Personality is going to critical with processes going forward because the kids of today are used to having personality part of everything and will expect it in their business systems in the future. He closed with this quote from Steve Jobs:
Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean, to make it simple. But it is worth it because once you get there you can move mountains.
This was a perfect introduction for Steven Spear who came on stage to talk about the remarkable complexity of the iPhone, while at the same time how remarkably easy it is to use. The complexity is hidden. Complexity is a blessing and a curse. He compared a 1964 Ford Mustang to the contemporary version, which looks similar on the outside, but are completely different vehicles on the inside, in both form and functionality.
There are serious dangers with the complexity of our world today, and the deep interrelations between highly specialized people. Told a story about an elderly patient getting radiation therapy and having a “sunburn” appear. What actually happened is that several specialists were involved, each doing their job perfectly when considered separately, but nobody could foresee that the complex interrelations between the jobs that caused this problem for the patient.
One consequence is that an organization needs to be wired to respond more quickly to any hint of a problem. I guess this fits in with his new book: the High Velocity Edge which was handed out at the session. I really liked Chasing the Rabbit because it really talks about how the traditional approaches (i.e. Scientific Management) are not sufficient to deal with complexity of modern organization. Quite frankly, I got a lot of material for Mastering the Unpredictable from it. And so I will have to read this new book and report on that.
Someone from the audience asked: How do we get people to think systemically? He responded that this is a problem: people are not trained to think about system. We teach transactional stuff instead. You have to walk people through all the complexity in order to see it. He said that it took walking the hospital management through the entire process, through the oncology department, the radiologist, and others in order to get a feeling for all the complex, subtle connections.
Overall, it is good to see the discussion at Forrester’s BPM Forum evolving from the automation and mass production of processes for routine tasks, to the facilitation (and enabling) of case management work, for complex, unpredictable tasks.