OpenText: OpenText recently contributed a chapter “How Social Technologies Enhance the BPM Experience for all Participants” to the book “Social BPM: Work, Planning and Collaboration Under the Impact of Social Technology“. What prompted OpenText to write about Social BPM?
Derek Weeks: We are excited about exploring the technology and usage models found in social applications and the results that can be achieved by mapping them to the unique characteristics, diverse participants and emerging opportunities in Business Process Management (BPM).
OT: Why do you think Social applications are seeing so much success lately for the enterprise?
DW: I think the recent success of social applications stems from the pioneering work that these applications have done to make it easier for people to connect with one another and to share information. As they reached critical mass, even more people embraced the technology and made it a common and familiar way for people to interact and find valuable information. As a result, social capabilities historically associated with applications like Facebook and LinkedIn are being demanded within business organizations. Social applications such as OpenText’s Tempo Social, as well as Plaxo and Yammer are specifically targeting the enterprise market.
OT: What about Social BPM? Do you see that impacting the ability to improve process participant productivity, especially with unstructured work?
DW: Within the business process and case management context, there are many participants who would benefit from more powerful tools that support connecting people and information sharing. BPM initiatives focus on a variety of participants including Business and Process Analysts, IT Professionals, Knowledge Workers, Management and Partners to name a few.
OT: There is so much going on right now in the world of Social, it can get confusing. How would you categorize the various social technologies?
DW: Given the dynamic nature of social computing, the technologies that define it are constantly evolving. I see three categories: personal networking, information sharing, and collaboration. Most successful social computing solutions draw on multiple technologies and uses them within the context of a social or business context to form a social application. As an example, Facebook draws on the technology capabilities within the social networking category but each of those sites exist to deliver a different (though clearly overlapping) application. Flickr and Picasa draw on information sharing technology to deliver social applications that enable participants to share photographs.
OT: What is the most important piece of advice you would give someone who is currently considering applying social technologies for process improvement?
DW: I would say that instead of starting with the process model, start with the participants within the process. Once their needs are understood, processes can be developed that support those needs, not the other way around. Social technologies exist to accelerate social conventions that people already participate in. When evaluating how participants work within a process, how they collaborate and access information should be a part of that analysis. By having social technologies as a part of the BPM toolkit, the value delivered to a participant is increased.
OT: How are social capabilities being applied to non-social applications?
DW: In the BPM business at OpenText, we mostly talk about applying social technologies and process automation to real people. For example, the concept of following people, which was popularized by Twitter, can be used to follow processes as well. Twitter makes it very easy to see the status of something. There is no dashboard or tabular report to understand. There is simply a single sentence that sums it all up. By using this model to convey the status of a customer’s loan application, or the current status of a service level, participants can now see information in a form that is simple, intuitive and consistent.
OT: How can Social help promote collaboration?
DW: Collaboration is not just about the ability to create discussion boards. It is about knowing who to collaborate with, how to structure and progress the collaboration and how to capture the collaboration so it is useful to others. Collaboration is greatly enhanced when it is combined with expert search capabilities. Having access to a network of knowledgeable people enables participants to find the most skilled resources to form a collaborative team.
OT: OpenText is talking a lot about Smart Process Applications these days. How does social fit into Smart Process Apps?
Many customers of our Smart Process Applications are using social and collaborative capabilities today. By providing out of the box capabilities through our smart process application factory, organizations are able to quickly and consistently introduce capabilities like instant messaging, user surveys, and knowledge management. One of these customers, Irish Life, was recently covered in a Smart Process Applications research paper by Forrester, Smart Process Apps: To Combine Social and Dynamic Case Management, where they stated, “Irish Life used social within its case management claims solution and increased productivity by 35%”.
OT: What do you think is the most significant promise of Social?
DW: I see tremendous potential not just in making people more productive but also making them more knowledgeable. Having access to the right information or expert at the right time has a long lasting impact on the individual doing the work. Productivity and service are also enhanced when process participants have tools like OpenText Smart Process Applications with built-in social capabilities to enable them to immediately find and connect with the people needed to keep process and case work moving. By integrating these collaborative capabilities into business applications, these collaborations can be contextual in that transaction specific information can be shared and the collaboration itself can be linked or copied into a system of record so audit trails are more complete and reconstructing how decisions were made is easily enabled.
To learn more about OpenText BPM and Smart Process Applications, please visit www.opentext.com/smartprocessapplications. For further insight on social capabilities, you can also read Derek’s previous post: OpenText Smart Process Applications: At the Intersection of Social Street and Core Systems Ave.
We also invite you to read OpenText’s contributed chapter in “Social BPM: Work, Planning and Collaboration Under the Impact of Social Technology“.
Derek Weeks joined OpenText in 2009 where he leads the global product and corporate marketing team for its Business Process Management (BPM) and Enterprise Architecture (EA) portfolio. Over his 20 year career, Derek held executive and senior management positions at Systar, Hyperformix, StorageTek, and Hewlett-Packard’s OpenView software business. OpenText recently sat down with Derek to discuss BPM and social technologies.
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