Why BPM and data analytics are a powerful combination

Read time 2min 50sec
Organisations have a great deal of untapped data.
Organisations have a great deal of untapped data.

There is a great deal of untapped data within organisations.

Much of that data is hiding in plain sight - within the organisation's business process management system (BPMS).

So says Deon van Niekerk, director at systems integration and business process specialist, Ovations.

Using that data would solve what Johan du Preez, data and analytics offering lead at Ovations, says are the biggest data analytics challenges: having one point of truth, and knowing where to find the data that will make the difference businesses aim for with their digital transformation or continuous improvement endeavours.

"Because most businesses continue to operate in silos, their data is also stored in silos. As a result, there are various versions of 'truth' within the organisation," du Preez explains.

Because most businesses continue to operate in silos, their data is also stored in silos. As a result, there are various versions of 'truth' within the organisation

Johan du Preez, Ovations

Traditionally, businesses attempt to gain access to this data - and thus obtain a single version of the truth - by funnelling it into a massive warehouse. From there, it can be extracted, sliced and diced and analysed to deliver the intelligence and insights required to do what needs to be done to improve productivity, boost customer experience, streamline processes or achieve whatever is set out in the business strategy.

"The problem is that a data warehouse project can take two years to roll out - longer if any changes occur in the processes of any of the contributing departments during that period. And when you do finally start analysing the data extracted from the data warehouse, the answers you obtain will be based on historical data, while what you really need to know is what is happening now," du Preez adds.

Meaningful answers

Van Niekerk points out that BPMS functions across business silos. A home loan application process, for example, could involve five or more departments as the application proceeds from submission from the client or a mortgage initiator, through risk analysis, property valuation (usually involving external valuators), credit and affordability assessment and, if the loan is approved, debtors to set up and manage the repayment process.

It is therefore the only system within the organisation (apart from a data warehouse) that can be tapped into to deliver the data and insights required by data analysts to produce meaningful answers to business questions regarding the process performance and customer interactions and experience.

"BPM solutions generally come with business activity monitoring reports that tell you what is happening with the work in the system. These are standard reports, but they can be enhanced to produce data that is not only meaningful, but presented in readily accessible and understandable formats," he adds.

"This can best be achieved by understanding both BPM and analytics. However, there's a gap between what data analytics and BPM do. But now there's technology that enables the gap to be bridged, bringing the domains together and enabling organisations to fully capitalise on the data that's locked within BPM."

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