Posted by: Adam Deane | 13/10/2010

The BPM Game Changer

BPM FutureIt’s always fun to speculate what the future holds for us.
While most of the industry are focusing on Mobile, Open Source, Dynamic BPM and SaaS – my attention is focused on one:

Enterprise Activity Streams

It’s just a matter of time before organisations will be purchasing Twitter-like software for their internal use,
and BPM will need to adapt to this new environment.

Walk around the office and peek at anyone’s computer screen.
What other applications are they currently running – Twitter? Facebook? Skype?

Users desire same level of innovation and functionality from their business applications as they get from their home applications.
It won’t take organisations long to cotton on to the potential.
Employees want to twitter between themselves? Let them..
It’s faster than email. Internal. Collaboration. No learning curve. Simple.

Yes, Google Wave failed. But that doesn’t mean that the trend is dead..
Other companies are building “Twitter for Business” applications like Microsoft OfficeTalk and Salesforce Chatter

So where does BPM come in?
There has been a lot of talk about unstructured processes that BPM doesn’t deal with. Now we have an oppertunity to provide a solution for both structured and unstructured processes.
Once, you needed a signed piece of paper to confirm that something was approved. Nowadays, an email is enough to confirm.
The future: Approval “Tweets”.

Think about the common scenario of getting 3 team members to approval a request. It goes back and forth until they all agree. Yes, you can create a workflow for it, but it will be complex, with loops, exceptions and business rules. Delays between each email will make it a sluggish procedure.
An internal Twitter would enable quick back-and-forth chats until agreement. The added value of an internal-Twitter application would be that the chat is stored in the local database, enabling audit trails and reports. Quick, Slick, Smart.

What else will change (ok, just speculating here…)
Email will still be used, but less (as employees use more tweets – the number of emails will decline)
Records Management won’t be able to catch up to the new reality of content types enabled by social media and collaboration tools. Wikis, blogs, discussion threads, tags. BPM will have a chance to “move in on their territory”
ECM will need to adapt as well, or be left out of the game.
The biggest winner of this power balance change will probably be BI. (think of the amount of amount of information that can be cut n’diced from the Twitter internal database)

What’s in a Name
For the sake of simplicity, I’ve called it “Enterprise Activity Streams” but there are already names out there like : Social BPM, Enterprise social networking, Online real-time collaboration, Adaptive BPM, Enterprise Microblogging. They all have the same target and they all will be integrated into one naming convention as time goes by.

Is this just wishful thinking?
I’m not a betting man, but if I was, I would be putting my money on Enterprise Activity Streams as the next big thing in BPM.
It will not only change the way we build business processes – it will completely change the way we work.

After years of stifled creativity, the ground is beggining to move.
It is going to get exciting!


  1. Nice post Adam,

    A lot of these ideas and new products seem to center around increasing communication. Whether it be via new methods (tweeting), or encouraging further use of older ones (chat / forums).

    Are we at risk of increasing communication, for communications sake here?

    I agree that the more communication the better – but we need some structure to it. Some overarching strategy that ensures that communications are occurring on what is important, how things are done and why.

  2. […] new BPM Enterprise Twitters Following up on my previous post on the BPM Game Changer… There are already two vendors that are developing Enterprise Activity […]

  3. […] Dean calls this a BPM Game Changer and he has a point.  While BPM has worked for highly predetermined processes, Twitter can be use […]

  4. I’m glad discovering it’s alrady being built a global-concept which Ultimus has pioneered in the last years. I agree, capturing the rich interaction among the co-workers is key to increase adoption, productivity and, thus, increase business value/competitiviness.

  5. […] the road. I’ve written a few posts before on the subject of Enterprise Twitters. I see these Enterprise Activity Streams as the next big thing in BPM. It will not only change the way we build business processes – it […]

  6. […] biggest innovation in BPM is Enterprise Activity Streams. It’s the […]

  7. I think you’re going to win the bet you place on Enterprise Activity Streams. I also agree with the comment that this leads to chaos if there’s no organization around it.

  8. […] Deane writes about this topic in his recent blog “Enterprise Activity Streams“…how long will it be before a tweet launches a business plan?  Not long, I […]

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