BPM by any other name, will not be the same
What's in a name, Shakespeare's Juliet asked, pointing out that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
However, when it comes to business process management, Forrester Research is predicting a name change that will reflect a significant change in the entire discipline of BPM and could result in some serious vendor casualties.
In a report authored by Rob Koplowitz, Forrester says that traditional BPM is giving way to Digital Process Automation (DPA) - and the change is more than cosmetic.
The report notes that just two years ago, in 2014, BPM was all about a drive for cost reduction, led by the BPM team. Business was a mere bystander in the process which followed a relatively rigid or methodical process that was generally designed to improve the quality of the employee experience.
Fast forward two years to 2016 and Forrester maintains the focus was on customer experience involving cross channel interactions. Business now shared in the development of these experimental and innovate processes with the BPM team.
By 2018, Forrester is predicting that BPM will move beyond cost and customer experience to encompass digital transformation. At this point, business rather than the BPM team will lead the drive towards the development of processes that can be adapted for rapid business change and will make increasing use of disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence.
In other words, according to Koplowitz, within the next two years, "the primary goal for BPM projects will be to drive digital transformation initiatives".
Does this spell the end for BPM - and the skills currently utilised by BPM professionals?
The answer is not quite as straightforward as "yes" or "no".
Koplowitz points out that digital transformation requires access to systems and processes that are complex and mission-critical - processes that are well understood by BPM vendors and application development and delivery professionals.
In addition, he emphasises that the foundation laid by BPM will play a critical role in the journey to digital transformation. While the complex task of driving consistent processes across disparate systems will not go away, he points out that innovation will have to take place at a far more rapid pace than ever before in order to satisfy increasingly demanding customers.
As the shift from business process management to digital process automation accelerates, application development and delivery professionals be looking for inexpensive tools that enable them to build and implement consumer-friendly applications across all interaction channels quickly. While some traditional BPM vendors will be able to adjust to these changes, Forrester predicts that many will not.