According to a recent article in Forbes, there’s a high level of consistency on macro technology trend predictions for 2017 by organizations such as Gartner, Forrester, Deloitte, Accenture, and McKinsey. That’s not surprising as “digital transformation” is pretty much the leading buzzword in today’s corporate lexicon and executives scramble to get up to speed on related concepts such as social, mobile, cloud, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cognitive computing, analytics, and big data.
However, for us at BPMInsititute.org, our focus is less on the tools themselves and more on the potential and scope of opportunity for organizations to create value through a customer focused, process based view of the enterprise in 2017. We agree with some observers that the truly exciting thing about digital transformation is largely about the opportunity to transform customer experiences and business models – and less about the technology. Indeed, as the tool set for digital transformation expands beyond the original set of social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies to include artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive computing, success will be increasingly about the integrated deployment of several technologies as opposed to simply deploying one tool. Of equal importance is the increasing recognition that digital transformation has to embrace more than just cost reduction and requires a focus on breaking down silos. Consequently, we expect that organizations with higher levels of process maturity will be more likely to succeed with digital transformation.
All of this is good news for BPM professionals who see their role more broadly and understand that the underlying principles in BPM is fundamentally about value creation and requires focusing on customer experience, cross functional collaboration and fact based decision making. BPM skills will remain in high demand as organizations engage in digital transformation – especially in those cases where robotic process automation (RPA) is a big part of the initiative. BPM professionals can make a big contribution when they communicate that:
Also, the close connection between business process management and customer experience management will increasingly be recognized. While there is ample rhetoric by experts in digital transformation on the importance of the customer, only around half of large organizations have mapped the entire customer journey. Even fewer have paid adequate attention to achieving a shared understanding among the senior leadership team of the opportunities to improve customer experience. Let’s recognize that BPM professionals have a clear opportunity to apply their modeling skills in mapping the entire customer journey in a compelling way that attracts the attention of the senior leadership team. Further, this can contribute to a dialogue on the central role of business processes in creating value for customers. In fact, it is virtually impossible to significantly improve customer experience without addressing end to end process performance.
It is now widely recognized that agility and adaptiveness are central to innovation. Accelerating innovation typically involves some emphasis on modernized IT infrastructure and improving the deployment of new applications with agile methods. BPM has a great deal to offer in terms of rolling out new applications. Low code apps are just one example on the technical side. Beyond low code apps, the interdependence and connectivity between BPM, Case Management and Agile software development will mature further in 2017. BPM professionals who have earned a relevant certification in their field are more likely to have the skills and credibility needed to help key stakeholders understand how these factors are connected.
There has been an explosion of tools around digital transformation. Beyond the original set of social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies this now also includes artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, gamification and cognitive computing. It’s the integration of both tools and methods that really matters and more mature digital businesses focus on integrating digital technologies, such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud, in the service of transforming how their businesses work according to one MIT study. Several vendors; including Appian and Pega, have made the link between the use of BPM suites and digital transformation and emphasized the increasing significance of process automation and robotic process automation (RPA) in this regard. BPM professionals have an opportunity in 2017 to help leaders maintain focus on the big picture view.
While both digital transformation and customer experience will continue to be front and center in 2017, the current evidence is that the focus on digital appears to have more momentum than customer experience. The Chief Digital Officer (CDO) Club reports that it already has over 2000 members and Gartner estimates that up to 90% of large organizations will have a Chief Data Officer or Chief Analytics Officer by 2019. While the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) association reported that around 10% of the Fortune 500 – or 50 companies – had appointed a CCO or equivalent – these numbers appear to have been flat for the past couple of years. Regardless of the path chosen, be it Customer Experience or Digital Transformation, both benefit from a strong process orientation and a high levels of process maturity within the organization.
Given the momentum around both customer experience and digital transformation, there are three related themes where BPM professionals can make critical linkages that will serve to improve their organization’s chances of success in improving operational performance:
The potential for BPM to play a central role may increase even further as organizations acquire more practical experience with evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing.