Social BPM – mere hype or … ?


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I have tried to capture some of my top of mind thoughts around the new hyperbole around Social BPM. But before I delve further, let us try & de-construct the term “social” a bit before we get into the crux of the problem here. The dictionary meaning of “Social” itself is myriad and can be used in multiple contexts and connotations.

But the recent hype around “social xyz” is in one of two respects – either Marketing/PR induced hallucinations around integration with social media or the new incumbents & startups in the enterprise software space trying to make a living amongst the established enterprise software biggies by harping on one of the most hyped out terms.

Social CRM purists would like to clarify, that in spite of the hyperbole from the marketing/PR agencies, its not limited to only the social media/networks aspect but a lot of other stuff too. A post is not enough to explain them all;,,, are a few places where these are already explained. There are many more at

Similarly, merely integrating an application built upon a BPM platform with social media/networking sites like Facebook/Twitter does not make it Social BPM.

As people in BPM (presumably the primary audience here) are aware the platforms can be used to automate workflows in various business functions, out of which they could even be related to marketing, sales or customer service/support/care. In which case, the BPM platform is being used to build a CRM application. And if that process somehow involves integrating with facebook/twitter/other social media/networking site, this would be a clear case of an intersection with Social CRM.

The very same “tussle” exists right now wrt CRM vs BPM systems in various situations for us consultants & systems integrators. Having worked in both the worlds I can safely state that what matters is primarily is the thought process behind the strategy & then the feature set of the tool.

SCRM is a strategy and business processes are a crucial part of that strategy. (S)CRM / BPM systems on the other hand need to be chosen depending upon the right fit. Most traditional CRM systems have a lot of “best practices” pre-configured and most of the business processes already automated. When there is a high level of intersection between the CRM processes required as per the CRM strategy and those provided by the CRM system, with only less than 40-30% customization, it is a good choice to go with CRM systems like Siebel, SFDC, MS Dynamics, etc. or even Pega CPM.

However in cases where there is not such a high convergence between the strategy & the out of box features of a CRM system, it might be worthwhile to go for a mishmash of integrated products with a BPM thrown in.

The other aspect most talked about in Social BPM is collaboration – in both the modeling as well as the processes at run time (by the end users). There is more meat here.

There are a few things we need to consider about collaboration though. Collaboration consists primarily of, among other things, communication & a work output. And it is not difficult to notice that this has always been happening in almost all kinds of systems under whatever kind of strategies. What might be considered new are a few properties of a networked system like emergence, complexity, stigmergy, etc. that are being considered under the strategies.

I have written about the complex adaptive systems, leveraging biomimicry for “social business” as well as a collaboration framework and am sure it helps you get some ideas too. You already might have come across Max Pucher’s Adaptive Case Management related blog. Theres a lot in there which explains how / why the leading BPM systems fail when it comes to the earlier mentioned network characteristics during run time.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Prem Kumar Aparanji
SCRM Evangelist @ Cognizant. Additional knowledge in BPM, QA, Innovations, Solutions, Offshoring from previous roles as developer, tester, consultant, manager. Interested in FLOSS, Social Media, Social Networks & Rice Writing. Love SF&F books. Blessed with a loving wife & a curious kid. :)


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