Connectivity, Efficiency, Experiences

23 11 2011

When looking at BPM (Business Process Management) solutions, or talking about BPM the concept, many of us think of how it relates to actual business processes or business goals, cases, targets etc. This is the main aim of BPM, to address how a business achieves a goal or carries out “work”, agreed? Ok, but my observation is, Is this right? Does the term BPM limit our thinking in real sense?

 

Outside of the business

If we take everything that we do towards a desired goal or outcome as a process, then BPM applies to everything we do in life, it’s not just limited to Businesses! For example, our own bodies go through processes every second of every day to achieve a goal. Think how we breathe, there is a distinct process, think how we turn food into energy, a distinct process, think how we run, a distinct mechanical process.

Now these examples are to simply prove a point that processes are around us and a part of our daily lives massively, which means any one process is made up of many others. Me running is a process, but in order for me to run, my body goes through a number of other processes, breathing and turning food into energy. This means businesses should not see their process as “the process”, rather as simply a smaller part of an overall and far bigger customer experience.

 

Real world example needed

To get my point across I want to use a real world example. Ok, I purchase a printer from a store. On checkout I provide that store with some basic information about myself. I then get home, install the printer and start using it. I fill in the warranty card, post that off, and then forget about it. A few days later the product breaks down, and I need to get it replaced. From the point of view of the manufacturer they don’t need to take into account any of the process I have just gone through, in order to kick off the process of dealing with the fault, but should they?

I believe yes.

 

Connectivity

Connectivity of devices and processes can have massive implications on process efficiencies, and the ability for external processes (that may not be directly related) to have a positive effect on our business processes.

First off, connecting and sharing data between different processes obviously provides added efficiencies and data accuracy. If we take our printer example, the process of checking out and paying for my printer should be integrated with the process of me completing a warranty card and informing the manufacturer.  That’s a process I shouldn’t need to be doing, and with improved connectivity of processes and data, I don’t have to. Now relate that back to the process of me returning the faulty printer, you see that process will be improved because of this connectivity in a different process. Both the store, and the manufacturer now know me, the product and the warranty, I don’t need to go through a number of steps at the start of the manufacturer’s faulty product process.

Secondly, device connectivity can have a massive impact on process efficiency, especially when connecting multiple and sometimes very different processes together. In the typical BPM world, do we take this into consideration?

Since the rise of the Smartphone, we have started to take into consideration connectivity to processes from different devices; we now see not just eMail being accessed on our mobile devices, but also ECM concepts along with the ability to actually work. However, when we flit between devices, such as our laptop, tablet, PC and mobile, often we have to do things again. Think deleting emails from your mobile device you have already deleted, think re-downloading a document we were working on etc. These are small things, but they can rack up a lot of time, and frustration amongst your work force. Now think of this from the point of view of a customer? You can see how better connected devices mean we can deliver better connected experiences to our customers, which have an impact on process efficiency.

Connectivity is a big thing, and one of the problems with multiple platforms and operating systems is the lack of connectivity. As a consumer, we like single user experiences, and we now want and like flexibility to do things whenever we want and on whatever device we want. Unfortunately having a different OS on my phone to the OS on my tablet, to the OS on my laptop and PC is not great for connectivity or user experiences. I’m not sure big players such as Google and Apple get this. Apple do it better than Google, and currently Microsoft, they learnt from the disjointed approach of Microsoft in the 90s. However, Microsoft seems to understand this connectivity and single user experience far more now, and they are moving ahead of the others. With Windows 8 and Windows Azure, one connected OS across all devices is only a few months away. That potentially provides massive connectivity bonuses to business and consumers.

 

Efficiency

BPM, APG (Adaptive Process Guidance), ACM (Adaptive Case Management) all aim to help businesses in a number of ways, raising efficiency, increasing standards, increasing accountability, ensuring compliance and improving customer experiences. These are just a few arguments for BPM thinking.

Efficiency is often looked at in terms of processes businesses own. Let’s look at our example process again. The manufacturer can improve the actual faulty printer process internally; it monitors what goes on, tweaks it here and there and improves it. However, external processes and greater connectivity should be leveraged to drastically improve this process further. Make sense?

In order to get a working printer, I the consumer, will follow through a process, which is a bigger process to that which the printer manufacturer has for handling this issue. If we step back, we can see that this process of getting a working printer spans over the store and the manufacturer, but if we step back further it also incorporates the process of me purchasing the printer in the first place. Do you see how a bigger picture of a process now surrounds my manufacturer’s simple process of dealing with my broken printer? If you do, then you can start to see areas in which we can make the manufacturers process of dealing with the broken printer far easier and more efficient than what is currently in place.

Essentially, if along the entire process of me purchasing the printer the manufacturer was thinking about the returns / repairs process, then they would want to get the warranty and customer information at the point of sale. This drastically improves the process efficiency for returns, in terms of internal efficiencies but also from the point of view of the customer, improving their relationship with that store and the brand of printer they have bought. I’m not going to break down the process further, rather I believe I have made my point, that business can improve process by taking into account external processes, especially those of their customers…

 

Experience

This post is about delivering a better customer experience. Leveraging the connectivity potential of devices and the connectivity potential of processes, business is able to improve its own processes. Taking our faulty printer example we can see how improved connectivity leads to external processes improving the manufacturer’s returns / repair process, in terms of efficiency internally and for the customer. We also see how connectivity of devices makes the customer experience far easier, simpler and more efficient, including for the manufacturer.

So with efficiency in mind, we look to greater connectivity, put the two together and you get drastically improved experiences…

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Protecting the web, or just lazy and greedy?

4 11 2011

There is a lot of talk of trying to legislate areas of the web. Here in the UK, BT will cut your broadband off if you are found to be frequenting and downloading content (music, films etc) from illegal file sharing sites. Many claim this just isn’t right, and that the UK government and BT are somehow trying to censor what we can or can’t do on the web. Over in the states, Google is thinking of divorcing itself from the Chamber of Commerce, because the Chamber supports legislation that forces internet companies to police websites that peddle pirated movies, music oh and fake Viagra (the latter being rather dangerous).  So what’s your stance?

Google

Google - plain lazy and greedy?

 

Protecting IP and consumers

The music industry really suffered first here, with copy write basically being flaunted all over the web, with millions of people globally simply downloading illegal copies of music. The same now happens with films and even drugs (though the latter is often fake versions of drugs such as Viagra).

Legislation that Google objects to is all about protecting that IP, essentially ensuring people get paid for their work and don’t have it stolen from them. Is there anything wrong with that? At the end of the day, if we all chose to illegally download music and films, would there be enough money in the industry to actually have an industry? Would we be left with “cr*p amateurs” uploading their stuff to You Tube? Yeap we would, and oh dear…It seems that individuals who have a problem with this type of legislation have a problem with it, because if effects their own habits (such as downloading free music /
films from illegal sites).

So why does Google as a web giant object to this legislation, and why could it see them pulling out of the Chamber of Commerce? Well, a source close to Google said the company is “frustrated” about paying dues to an organisation promoting legislation that would “impose new liabilities” on Google. So what does this actually mean…Well it means Google are frustrated that the Chamber supports legislation that would mean Google would have to make changes to its search algorithms, which will cost money!

 

Does protecting IP and consumers from fake drugs lead to a lack of innovation and censorship?

A cracking argument I read over and over again (when talking about legislation on cracking down on illegal websites etc) is that such legislation would threaten innovation and encourage censorship and infringe on freedom of speech on the Web…To this I have to say “what a load of shi*”.

Such legislation will mean Google has to monitor what it indexes and displays. That’s work for them. In addition it also means they can’t just take money from advertisers who peddle illegal content, again work for them. But, how does that stop innovation on the web? Would this legislation have stopped the rise of iTunes, a legal source of downloadable music? No, but it would have stopped Napster from sharing millions of music files and loosing an entire industry millions of pounds. Would legislation really lead to censorship of freedom of speech? Again No! Though some may argue WikiLeaks
would suffer…But again, is that a problem? Is stealing content and then publishing it really a good thing? Were any of those stories in the public’s interest, did WikiLeaks not break data protection laws and many others? But let’s back track, this legislation wouldn’t have stopped WikiLeaks, rather it is focusing on illegal file sharing and the selling of fake drugs etc…

 

Plain lazy

Essentially Google and others don’t like this legislation because it means they have to do something, they have to invest in changes to their business to meet that legislation. Booo hooo. If anything, companies like Google should not have been indexing illegal sites from day one; there should not have been any need for legislation! After all, Google is effectively acting as a marketing tool for these illegal businesses. If I went to a local shopping centre and advertised where people can purchase stolen goods from, directing people to that “shop”, I am sure I would be spending sometime at her majesties discretion in jail! But, if I do it online and I am Google, that’s all ok…

 

The bottom line

For too long the web has been a place where people can get away with illegal activities because it’s all supposed to be “free”.  Google is just as much a culprit as the illegal websites that it indexes. It’s about time Google did something about it, and I hope legislation is made stronger for companies that advertise / index / direct people to illegal websites. Stop whining Google, do your job properly and
legally!