Adaptive capabilities deliver content as an asset

14 01 2011

I have spoken about adaptive capabilities quite a bit in the past 8 months, but today’s is a high level look at why adaptive capabilities will help ECM & BPM deliver content as an asset to an organisation, and why as an asset, this can lead to greater innovation within the organisation.

The current state

The current state of ECM and BPM within organisations is pretty good. In 2010 I believe we saw many more organisations starting to understand the potential capabilities of both of these technologies (probably more so BPM). However, there are reasons why both ECM and BPM aren’t rolled out across more departments within an organisation (let alone the complete enterprise). Most of these focus around the rigidity of both solutions, in terms of how they work, and how an end user can choose to work with them.

Because of this, content as an asset does get lost when looking across the complete enterprise. This means as an asset, a business is not seeing the whole picture, which means innovation based on a particular asset (content and process in this case) is simply never found…

Rigid definitions

Both ECM and BPM need some investment upfront (in terms of time to define elements of the solution). For ECM you need to invest time and effort with key staff (and probably a consultant) in defining rigid class definitions, ways in which you want content to be stored and accessed by. With BPM this time investment is far greater, as key staff along with a BA in most cases, need to identify work, how different types of work are processed and all the things that user needs to complete work.

The problem here is that while for departmental implementations this can be annoying and time consuming, these annoyances escalate with each department and with the maintenance of the solution. Though the business defines this content and processes, and in many ways its value, it is unable to do this quickly and easily at all times.

If our ECM / BPM solution is far more adaptive, then the business has a bigger ongoing stake in what’s going to happen with content as an asset. This means the value of content has increased, and because of this, and the adaptive capabilities, ECM & BPM is then deployed into more and more departments. With greater deployment comes greater value from content as an asset, which ultimately leads to more research into what to do with that asset, and how it can be used as a valuable and ongoing asset to the business. Adaptive capabilities here really then unlocks the door to greater innovation within the organisation.

Adaptive adaptive adaptive

Adaptive capabilities allows the business to rapidly adapt their systems in terms of content definitions (ECM) and how the organisation works with that content (Process definitions – BPM). With an adaptive solution, especially one that takes a far more holistic implementation (merging CRM, ECM, BPM into a single silo), the business can manage the content asset far more easily and have far more visibility of that asset from all directions. Because of this, rolling out the solution is made easier across the enterprise. The business stake in content as an asset increases with each departmental roll out.

An ECM & BPM platform is there to help organisations become more efficient and to allow them to innovate. An adaptive platform will allow businesses to innovate around how they use content as an asset, simply because they have far greater accurate and flexibly control over that asset and the processes that relate to it. From here innovation becomes more obvious, easier to implement and businesses can reap the rewards of understanding content as an asset.

So while there are many obvious technical and business benefits of adaptive ECM and BPM, the adaptive capabilities open up yet more doors to organisations in managing and leveraging content and processes. Adaptive solutions increase the value of content to any organisation…



4 responses

17 01 2011
Michael Zobel

Andrew, you know that I highly appreciate your holistic approach but what are these “adaptive” capabilites? Specifically, the use of conventional BPM in a Taylorist fashion you describe and adaptive are mutually exclusive in my understanding of the term.


17 01 2011
Andrew Smith @onedegree

When I talk about adaptive I mean in the sense that the system can adapt to the will of its end users quickly (in response effectively to a business need).

So what is normally a rigid definition of a process (one that cannot be changed without a BA getting involved, then someone updating a map and then potentially updates made to software itself), can actually be modified by an end user (seeking authorisation to do so). For example, a process may require additional processing which is not currently outlined. Our user needs to get this work done, and ideally needs to make the process of doing this work available to others in the future. In this case, our user could create a new substep option, then attach some tasks to it, and then provide it with onward processing rules (its next step). The user can then store this and the process definition has adapted to the need of the business to actually process the work. The process is then in place for the next time that work needs to be done.

Effectively our solutions adaptive capabilities have allowed it to adapt to the need of the business and update the process it self. We havent had to put in a change request and effectively either put the work on hold, or basically processed the work outside of our BPM platform (process).

In addition, the BPM platform can adapt to understand and learn what processes are typically selected for a particular peice of content or based on the content and the users department who is launching the new peice of work.

Adaptive capabilities allow the system to quickly change and meet the needs of the business, an adaptive solution is far quicker to respond to business needs and is far more capable of spreading across the enterprise because processes can be discovered, as opposed designed.

The same can be said of ECM.

18 01 2011
Michael Zobel

Andrew, thanks for the clarification, empowering users to execute their own processes as needed to fulfill business goals sounds like adaptive technology, indeed. I was just insisting on it because unfortunately these days there are countless claims for “adaptive” and seemingly similar attributes, or others like “social” that are simply employed to hide the fact that conventional BPM is about user control and won’t give up on it however fancy the decoration may be.

18 01 2011
Andrew Smith @onedegree

That is so very true…..When you look behind many claims of adaptive or dynamic you find nothing adaptive or dynamic in empowering users at all…Rather the same old tools and thinking re-badged…

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