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Social BPM systems: integration between BPM Systems and Social Platforms

Although BPM is now a world recognized approach, someone still considers it as a mere a way to control the work rather than a tool to support and improve the working practices. Therefore, BPM systems (BPMS) are perceived as strict and solid enterprise implementations.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Social Platforms are perceived as extremely open and uncontrolled. That’s why their adoption in the industry is quite limited.

But BPM and Social Platforms have already brought huge benefits to organizations! Process optimization resulting in saving of time and money, collaborative environments, crowdsourcing and other features helped companies becoming stronger, more competitive, and more visible.

Since Social BPM integrates BPM Systems with Social Platforms, is not so strange that companies are not yet ready to adopt it. We need a cultural change before! Once this obstacle will be overcome, we can barely imagine how many benefits Social BPM can grant.

During the Social BPM Summer School (Como, July 17-20) we met Sandy Kemsley, world recognized Social BPM expert and evangelist, that shared with us some of her ideas on this matter.
We report here a short interview we had with her (see also the textual transcript below).

Here at WebRatio we are not afraid of change. Who wants to help us changing the enterprise culture?


INTERVIEWER: Hi Sandy, I know that you have a very positive vision of the state of BPM industry based on your consultant activities. How do you think BPM is perceived in companies today?
SANDY: I think in many cases BPM is still seen as a way to control what people do rather than support they work. And that can be a real problem. So BPM now need to change in something that could be much more flexible, because many people still think about BPM as a been very approach, suitable for only for very rigid processes, defined through very structured flows. So we need to change somehow how people think about it.
INTERVIEWER: You are recognized as an expert in social BPM. If you have to define the concept in one sentence, how would you describe Social BPM?
SANDY: The state of Social BPM now is we have some social capability built in BPM systems and what we can do is to have collaborations in the processes, in the context of the BPM systems. I think that is evolving however. We are beginning to have BPM systems interact with other Social platforms as well so that we can see more of that to get outside the boundary of what’s thought of as BPM Systems.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think companies are ready to embrace these social revolution?
SANDY: I wish they were but I don’t know if they are. We are still going through so much struggle to have adoption of Social BPM within organizations. Many of the problems are around the management of use and how things should be done and strictly control how those acts should be done. So I think that until we have some changes in the organization culture many companies are not really ready for that yet.
INTERVIEWER: Which field or market sector do you think could gain more from adoption of Social BPM?
SANDY: I think really any business could, because Social BPM is just a tool for allowing people to be able to do their work more naturally. So any company that needs to be able to have processes they can change, such as knowledge workers that want to work in the way they know is the best way to do. So we see examples of very dynamic industries but even in very conservative companies like financial services we see lots of examples of companies that can start benefit from the Social BPM capabilities, collaboration and dynamic processes.
INTERVIEWER: What is the current maturity level in Social BPM and when do you think it will reach mainstream adoption?
SANDY: We need to distinguish whether we talk about the maturity of the product or about the maturity of the adoption of the product, they are very different things. So the technology is starting to head towards maturity. We are seeing many of the capabilities that are emerging now in things like activity streams process. Things like runtime collaboration and similar are becoming very common in BPM offerings. There is not as much standardization as there should be and also every vendor has his own definition of social BPM so there are still things to be defined. But nevertheless it is starting to reach a sort of maturity. The adoption however is still in its early stage. Just like I said, companies in many cases are just not ready for it, so we are starting to see some use cases of social BPM being used but in many case it’s too early. I think it will be another few years before we start to see significant use cases being adopted inside enterprises .
INTERVIEWER: And what do you think are the main reasons to prevent Social BPM adoption?
SANDY: It is a cultural issue, for instance we see management not willing to loose control. I had an interesting discussion earlier, where somebody mentioned management of their father’s generation, and it was my generation too! But I don’t think it’s a problem of generation, the problem is that people in positions of power in many cases see social as an erosion to their power. So there is a correlation because older people tend to have more power, but I don’t think it’s because they are older that their are not social, I think it’s because they are in management positions that may they see social as a treath. So I think it’s one of the biggest thing is just change the organization’s culture.

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