Enterprise Imperatives for the Social BPM 

Social networking and collaboration technologies are the new “water cooler”, where conversations and interactions occur in a digital space and can be recorded, replayed, searched, analysed and integrated with other systems and processes.

Controversy, debate and experimentation with using social networking technologies in the business enterprise continues, while their adoption in the personal consumer market and the new economy start-ups is now mainstream.   Evidence of loss of productivity at work due to employees accessing social media has been found, while at the same time social collaboration technologies targeting the work environment have been maturing as reflected by significant investments in social technologies by all major enterprise vendors and many enterprises.

Historically, the primary aim of the business process management (BPM) within the enterprise has been to maximise efficiency and therefore improve productivity, reduce costs and thus improve profits.   Accountability, visibility and adaptability of business processes have been crucial in managing and improving business performance.

A study by IDC and McKinsey has also revealed that typically information workers spend only about 40% of their time on the core tasks for their roles, with the remaining 60% spent on collaboration, information discovery and access.  Since social technologies accelerate the collaboration and information access processes, opportunities for productivity improvement are significant.  For dynamically designed processes and teams, for non-repetitive processes, occasional participation in the processes and for processes involving remote workers, collaboration and information access form an even greater percentage of the task, and thus can obtain greater leverage from social technologies.

This latter set of opportunities has accelerated in a globally connected world, with large communities of users with high level of literacy in social technologies.  Mass collaboration is now not only possible, but is seen as a major business opportunity and disruption.    Mass collaboration is the ability for multitudes of people, who may have no pre-existing or only a weak relationship, to quickly and effectively contribute to the development of an idea, artifact, process, plan, solution or action.  For many enterprises to stay competitive, they have to view mass collaboration as strategic.   To do so effectively, they also need to integrate mass collaboration with their core business processes, building upon their BPM capabilities to date.  This area has been termed “Social BPM”.  Social BPM can be very valuable in uncovering process patterns while aiming for BPM maturity level 2, and later for improved adaptability in BPM maturity level 4, “goal driven processes”.

With widespread use of mobile devices (smart phones and tablets), the ubiquity of broadband access and increased adoption of bring your own device (BYOD), use of social media technologies is unstoppable.

Enterprises considering adoption of social technologies need to :

  • Determine appropriate positioning of ST within their business, in order to avoid the common pitfalls and challenges in adopting social technologies
  • Identify areas within their business likely to benefit the most from ST
  • Determine strategic opportunities for leveraging Social BPM, rather than focus on technologies
  • Establish organisational capabilities and processes to implement social BPM, with appropriate social technologies integrated with core business systems