The Customers Win through BPM

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Forrester defines BPM as: The designing, executing and optimizing of cross-functional business processes that incorporate systems, processes and people.

BPM systems are being used with increasing frequency inside organizations to improve the effectiveness of their core operations. These tools are uniquely qualified to support this type of activity, due to their ability to coordinate interactions between information systems, business processes, and the people that use them, giving organizations visibility into processes, status and trends and the ability to make processes changes on an ongoing basis.

Success stories from early BPM adopters are the driving force behind the increased interest in BPM. For example, a major financial institution was able to reduce the amount of time required to develop new products for its wholesale customers from an average of 28 days to less than five minutes. In another example, a major parts distributor implemented a BPM system that managed the flow of information between legacy applications at the corporate headquarters, distributed systems used by their retailers and key suppliers, and a portal provided for customer interactions. This system reduced the time it took to provide an accurate quote to customers from an average of five days to less than one minute.

In both examples, the key beneficiary of BPM systems is the customer. The customers received what they wanted sooner. Business process management efforts can provide significant payback to implementing organizations in several areas that will directly impact their customers in the following ways:

  • Reducing cycle times: Through its ability to orchestrate and automate many tasks, the organization can respond quicker to customer needs.
  • Lower costs: BPM efforts enable organizations to operate more efficiently, thereby reducing the cost of goods and services provided to customers.
  • Providing a single view of the customer: BPM systems have the ability to aggregate customer information from multiple channels, providing a comprehensive view of the customer to customer service representatives.

Looking Ahead

The following trends will have a major impact on BPM in the coming year:

  • The majority of organizations will pursue business process improvements:

Many organizations will begin formal process improvement efforts for the first time. Overall, a majority of larger firms will become involved in BPM activity during the next twelve months.

  • Merging of infrastructure and business application software will continue:

As BPM vendors support an increasingly diverse array of vertical industry processes and composite applications development, the boundary line between business applications and infrastructure middleware will increasingly blur.

  • Simultaneous contraction and expansion of the BPM market will occur:

While there will be some consolidation of vendors servicing the BPM space, this will be offset by vendors that begin providing BPM solutions for the first time.

The Customer Wins… Who Loses?

The customer is the ultimate beneficiary of almost all BPM efforts. Customers will gravitate to organizations providing superior service, so organizations in customer-focused sectors that do not aggressively improve their business processes will lose market share to those that understand how BPM makes them more competitive.

Ken Vollmer

is a member of Forrester's Applications Development & Infrastructure Group, covering trends, issues, and strategies related to all forms of integration, including application integration, business process integration, business process management, enterprise application integration, and electronic data interchange. He has 18 years of management-level experience in the IT industry. Prior to joining Forrester, he was at the Giga Information Group and, before that, he was the director of information systems planning for a retail company, where he implemented an EDI program with more than 1000 trading partners.


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