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BPM'S expanding horizons

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Clay Richardson, research analyst at Forrester, emphasizes, "The most important thing for companies to think about is to identify where mobile applications can help cut the time to complete tasks and to focus on the user experience. The flow of tasks on mobile should anticipate what the users want to do and make it easy for them to do it." Companies should think about the outcome they want and then design the application around that, rather than try to duplicate the desktop experience on a much smaller screen.

In addition, they should ensure that the mobile application is tied into core business processes, in order to prevent a disconnect between the two that produces a silo of information generated from the mobile application. Sometimes this means re-engineering the backend systems so that all the information is integrated into the workflow. "This is an important step," Richardson says. "Building a mobile application without thinking about the processes behind the scenes will almost certainly deliver a poor customer experience."  

iBPMS: the new frontier for BPM

The intelligent business process management system (iBPMS) will be the next generation of BPM-enabled application, according to Gartner. In an iBPMS, the BPM stack incorporates social media, mobile device support, expanded analytics including complex event processing (CEP), decision support tools and access to external information sources such as video, audio and social streams. Collectively, that capability provides well orchestrated process management that improves operations and supports innovation in a qualitatively different way than that of traditional BPM.

"One great example of leveraging an intelligent process is an agricultural application being used on five mega-farms in Australia," says Jim Sinur, VP of Gartner Research. "In this project, data is being provided from probes measuring soil components and rainfall, from runoff models indicating where the rain goes, and from external models of weather forecasts. All this information is analyzed to calibrate the amount of liquid fertilizer that should be applied. The result in some cases was a 40 percent increase in plant yield." The system depends on a complex rule base, robust analytics and decision support to determine the appropriate actions.

BPM vendors that are lacking critical parts of this evolving category are adding those capabilities by developing them in house or through acquisition. Most are trying to reach that goal incrementally rather than producing a solution that will require a full upgrade. "This is a journey, not an end game," Sinur says, "and all vendors and clients are on this journey."

Initially, Gartner estimated that about 15 percent of companies would be interested in iBPMS software, but more recent figures indicated that more than 50 percent, comprised of both existing and new customers, are in fact interested.

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