The Great 21st Century Business Reformation

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Peter Fingar thinks that BPM is the next "big thing" in business.  But it's not just about technology and incremental improvement; it's about operational transformation, driven by the emergence of a wired, flat world and the fusion of business operations and information technology. The transformation is well under way on such a large scale that it can be called epic change. 

Peter Fingar, Executive Partner in the digital strategy firm, the Greystone Group is one of the industry’s noted experts on business process management with over 30 years of experience with  business and technology. He is coauthor of the books: "The Real-Time Enterprise: Competing on Time", just-released, and the industry defining book, "Business Process Management: The Third Wave."

Fingar was introduced as one of the few true visionaries for the future of business, although he describes his own major interest as being in the issue of time as a competitive variable. He says we are on the brink of a global innovation war driven by process-based competition.  He used FedEx as an example of one of the first companies to actually sell time. Operational transformation is the next frontier of advantage in business. Fingar says that companies can now transform their operations by mastering the tools for time-based competition. An example is internet connectivity using and exploiting BPM. Many companies have transformed the way they do business by making deep structural changes.

Fingar defines business processes as how to deliver value to customers. It is the complete, end-to-end, dynamically coordinated sets of collaborative and transactional activities that deliver value. "BPM takes all the different islands of knowledge, data, business rules, and applications that represent core enterprise activities and unites them into an information system that is accessible to ordinary business people, to help them get work done," according to Fingar. Companies are their business processes, and those that understand can eclipse long-established companies by offering greater value and lower costs.

IT is changing too. Fingar characterized the old IT as having cost-based competition that emphasized:

  • Automated data processing
  • Doing things right
  • Systems-of-record
  • Commoditized best-practice
  • Bodies in chairs

The New IT is characterized by using time-based competition that emphasizes:

  • Automate value-delivery systems
  • Doing the right things
  • Systems of processes
  • Unique, best-in-breed, "next practices"
  • Agility to execute on strategy

Fingar says the implications for IT are many and profound. Companies say they no longer want more IT, they want business results, but the contribution from IT to get these results is going to be greater than ever before. To transform a company, a system-wide view of the enterprise is needed and IT professionals have just such a view, more so than marketing, legal, financial, or other specialists. Building a process-managed business demands systems thinking and business process skills outweigh technical skills. Interestingly, Fingar says that our current IT competition, India, should not rest on its laurels either. India excels in software development (cheap programmers) and business process outsourcing for help desks and other customer service representatives. But good BPM means much less software development. More customer service processes will be handled by the customers themselves, making both of these areas a sunset industry.

Like it or not, massive change is coming. Are you ready for it?

Peter Fingar recently spoke on this topic at a recent BrainStorm’s Business Process Management Conference.  For more information on this conference, visit

To hear the archived audio file of this presentation, visit:

Jon Huntress

Special Events Correspondent


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