BPM Maturity is Needed for Digital Business Success

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BPM Maturity is Needed for Digital Business Success

The importance of a process orientation in driving digital business success has been recognized for some time. In the early days of digital – it was already recognized that leading companies succeed with digital by re-envisioning customer experience, operational processes and business models.

Gartner has also stressed the importance of BPM in digital transformation success and predicted that a deficit of BPM maturity may actually  prevent 80 percent of organizations from achieving the desired business outcomes from their digitalbusiness strategies.[i]

The main options for deploying digital are:

a)     Find a digital tool and deploy it 

b)    Decide which digital tools to deploy to improve departmental performance

c)     Start with the customer experience and deploy digital tools to improve the performance of value creating processes

We believe that option (c) is most likely to lead to success with digital business. Thoughtful executives pay attention to aligning people, processes, and culture to achieve long-term digital success. They focus on customer experience and ask how digital can make the customer journey easier and better. Then, they recognize that end to end business processes are what creates customer value. That’s why BPM maturity is so important for lasting digital business success.

To understand the importance of BPM maturity, the table below summarizes the extremes: 

Low Maturity

High Maturity

Random, isolated projects

Planned projects create customer value

Departmental focus

Customer and cross-functional focus

Tools deployed individually 

An integrated approach to tool deployment



Low resources 

Dedicated resources

Silos dominate

Process governance in place

Financial metrics dominate

Measures include quality and timeliness


Sustainable success with digital business is not easy. Forbes reported that 84% of companies fail with digital transformation.[ii]Digital business is not something that you can go and buy and just plug it into your organization. It is multi-faceted and diffuse, and it involves much more than just technology. Digital business requires an investment in skills, infrastructure, and, sometimes, in cleaning up IT systems.[iii]

Researchers at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy have identified that leading companies use digital to transform both the customer experience and their operational processes while simultaneously challenging their business model. This is in plain contrast to other, less successful digital programs where companies take a technology led approach to solve discrete business problems of relatively small scope or when they attempt to deploy digital solely to resolve problems within departmental boundaries.

It’s important to be aware of the central role of process thinking in developing business models and operating models. Andrew Campbell, a co-author of a book on the Operating Model Canvas, emphasizes that a one page operating model canvas promotes dialogue and is easy to share. To understand an operating model, it’s important to start with laying out the value chains or large processes that need to perform flawlessly to deliver the company’s value proposition. As depicted below, the operating model canvas can best be used when there is clarity on customer experience and the interdependence of the various components of the model. 

Operating Model Canvas[iv]

It’s fairly clear that the digital program has to be led from the top down. Employees want to work for leaders who get digital. Also, there is strong evidence to support that the integrated use of multiple digital technologies yields superior results to using one tool at a time in a disconnected fashion. Then, a focus on customer experience will help avoid sub-optimizing the benefits of digital technologies. While actions by individual departments can potentially improve customer experience, these benefits can be short lived unless changes are also made to supporting back-end systems or back office operations.Ideally, what’s needed is a management approach that emphasizes customer experience, features a business process based view of the enterprise and is integrative in nature. That’s why BPM maturity is so important. Indeed, BPM is unique in the sense that it combines a management discipline with enabling technology. 

BPM professionals, business analysts, business process analysts, business architects and enterprise architects can all make a greater contribution to their company’s digital programs by working together to improve the level of BPM maturity and thereby increasing the chances of success with digital business.[v]


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