Social Workflow + Social Enterprise = the Future of BPM (and work!)


Share on LinkedIn

I’m going to go out on a limb here but then when don’t I ?!

I’ve been tracking a number of social based task management solutions recently;, Asana, Sparqlight, TidalWaveApp to name drop a few, each do things in a social context and have their own slant on how workflow should behave in the social enterprise. And while they’re not hardcore business process management or case management engines that we know and loathe what they do represent is the future of where this industry as a whole needs to go. We are still mired in building extremely complex solutions and applications to cater for every process eventuality that we are no longer as agile as we should be, and with the thrust of social now really upon us it’s time to look at how we’ve built those solutions and practices and really start with a blank sheet.

Sure, these fledglings don’t actually consider themselves BPM or Case in any sense, just collaborative task tools, but it’s no stretch to make them into something enterprise scale that could rival or challenge jurassic BPMS dominance. There is the predilection to still use email as a communication mechanism for some of these applications but this will disappear overtime as something new will be born from the ashes of corporate spam. With an open marketplace that mirrors the Apple App Store concept and allows developers to create extensions to these workflow tools this could really be explosive.

Analytics, workflow, activity streams, projects (cases!), views….the core is already there.

Instead of naval gazing at Gamification and trying to add another buzz word to the BPM stack just make work more engaging and involving. Social workflow does that without the need for badges (whenever I see this it reminds me of the mexican bandito in The Treasure of Sierra Madre – “Badges!? We don’t need no badges!”) because it engages the employee collective out of the box in the right way because it’s been designed for them in mind. I have to smile at the lack of foresight in this space at times, it’s human nature to quickly embrace a fun method of working but then as equally quickly to tire and bore of it once you’ve figured out the mechanics and for the clever of us, manipulate the scores. Gamification will collapse as a viable employee engagement method in a BPM context very quickly.

I wrote some time ago about the need for a socio-based methodology for the social enterprise and this really shouldn’t be ignored because when used in combination with the above you will truly have the fluid and adaptive organisation you’ve been craving for. Leave resource utilisation charts for the dinosaurs and concentrate on bringing everyone to the party because internal information brokerage and mining to find the real experts of your business will become far more important than who is the fastest typist.

  • Who are the brokers of information ? In reality it’s not data owners but individuals within the organisation that people go to. They’re not necessarily the Subject Matter Experts either, be careful you don’t fall into that trap. In sociology and network analysis it’s all about centrality.
  • How dense are the informal groups that people operate within ? I’m not talking about business divisions and formalised hierarchies, I’m eluding to the underground network of people who are connected to each other, what their sphere of influence is.
  • Who is really connected in the enterprise and why ?

BPM methods need updating and fast and the only way it’s going to grow up (or drag itself out of the past) is to start embracing the new breed of workflow software and learn and adapt method around the social enterprise concepts. To ignore it is to ignore the future of work.

The future of BPM and indeed work based software and method itself doesn’t lie in continually adding onto the bloated software product stack from the latest analyst twitterings, or jumping onto the darling buzzword for this week, the future lies in being able to step back and accept a piece of humble pie and admitting that we have been wrong. I’m not suggesting we ignore everything that has come before but equally we can’t blindly keep following the same mechanics that have served for decades.

If we do, we’ll continue to keep getting it wrong. We owe those enterprises to do things differently now.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Theo Priestley
Theo Priestley is Vice President and Chief Evangelist at Software AG, responsible for enabling the marketing and voice of the industry's leading Business Process, Big Data/ In-Memory/ Complex Event Processing, Integration and Transaction suite of platforms. Theo writes for several technology and business related sites including his own successful blog IT Redux. When he isn't evangelizing he's playing videogames, collecting comics and takes the odd photo now and then. Theo was previously an independent industry analyst and successful enterprise transformation consultant.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here