BPM provides more than just pure process automation, which is why it has a role to play at all levels within an organisation, starting and indeed finishing with the CEO. One of the major complaints that comes out of the boardroom is that, at the highest level, executives suffer from quality of information starvation. To qualify this, what is meant is that, from the CEO downwards, senior management are not able to get sight of the information that they need, when they need it, in the format that they want it in. They are restricted by their own technology, information in quantity is not a problem, but relevancy and quality is.
Real BPM has the potential to provide business benefits at all levels within an organisation, and its focus on taking out processes from individual applications for delivery to business users via a metaprocess, can give the type of flexibility and agility that is needed by all business users. But this of course can only happen if IT vendors can convince the business community of the validity of their case, and spell out the real benefits of BPM, without it sounding like just another technology pitch.
Benefits such as enabling efficient change management by business users so that they are able to build and alter processes dynamically, and react to market conditions, sounds great in principle. But the reality is that IT never managed to do it when they were in control, so selling BPM as the liberator of business will be a good trick, and business professionals may see the introduction of BPM as just another opportunity to throw more work their way. They may also see the technology as a reworking of other timeworn solutions, systems that, at their peak, failed to impress the business community. In principle, they would be wrong, but the reaction would be understandable.
A recent global survey of telecom equipment manufacturers carried out by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young indicates that more than 40% of executives up to CEO level are looking to flexibility as a key strategic focus. This is in order to take advantage of the upturn in the economy, when it comes, however strong it is. The survey also sees outsourcing becoming even more popular, with cost saving the main reason for its uptake. These results are interesting, in that they imply that technology that will help improve business flexibility and enable the control of outsourced processes, will become of increasing relevance over the coming year.