Webinar On Collaborative Business Process Analysis In The Cloud

I’m giving a webinar on Wednesday, June 18 (11am Eastern) on social cloud-based BPA, sponsored by Software AG – you can register here to watch it live. I’ve written a white paper going into this theme in more detail, which will be available from Software AG after the webinar. They will also be presenting a bit on the webinar about their Process Live cloud-based BPA service, which is their full-featured ARIS process analysis toolset running in the cloud, with some additional collaboration features.

Developer-Friendly BPM

I gave a webinar today sponsored by camunda on developer-friendly BPM, discussing the myth of zero-code BPM. I covered the different paradigms of BPM development, that is, fully model-driven versus process models and code, with some pointers for how to evaluate the different approaches within your organization – it’s not a simple one-size-fits-all decision for most large companies with complex application development needs.

I also wrote a white paper on the topic, it will be posted on the camunda site soon, as well as a link to a replay of the webinar.

Update: the webinar replay is here and the white paper is here. Registration on the camunda site required for both.

In the meantime, you can see my slides here:

Jakob Freund of camunda co-presented with me, his slides are here:

Becoming A Digital Enterprise: McKinsey At PegaWORLD

The day 2 keynotes at PegaWORLD 2014 wrapped up with Vik Sohoni of McKinsey, who talked about becoming a digital enterprise, and the seven habits that they observe in successful digital enterprises:

  • Be unreasonably aspirational
  • Acquire new capabilities
  • Ring fence and cultivate talent
  • Challenge everything
  • Be quick & data driven
  • Follow the money
  • Be obsessed with the customer

Some good points, but what is also interesting is the presence of McKinsey on the stage at all: Pega is increasingly attempting to align themselves with management consulting firms further up the customer food chain rather than just technical implementation. Pega’s role is becoming more of a consultant than an implementation partner to customers, leaving implementation to the partner network so as to not limit their growth. However, my sense from what I’ve seen and conversations that I’ve had with partners and customers here is that Pega implementations are still non-trivial technical efforts, and the partner channel has a wide variability in capabilities, meaning that Pega is unlikely to step completely out of implementation consulting if they want to guarantee success.

PegaWORLD: Service Excellence At BNY Mellon

Jeffrey Kuhn, EVP of client service delivery at BNY Mellon, spoke in the morning keynote at PegaWORLD about the journey over the 230-year history of the bank towards improved customer focus. They’ve done this through  a Lean/Six Sigma type of continuous process improvement (CPI) initiative: improving their processes to impact quality and efficiency, while reducing risk and improving the customer experience. But they didn’t want to just take orders and process orders faster: instead, they automate the routine work, and enable their workers to manage exceptions effectively. They’re not a retail bank, so their customers are not consumers: the customers are institutional and government investors, meaning that each customer is very high-value.

BNY Mellon has weathered recessions, depressions and financial melt-downs over the decades, but Kuhn sees the current climate as being particularly difficult: low interest rates, higher regulatory complexity and costs, and foreign investment markets that have not rebounded as much as expected. He doesn’t see this as a temporary state, however, but the new normal; they have been working to lower costs by consolidating, streamlining and automating operations in order to remain competitive, and are using Pega for much of that continuous process improvement.

Automating the routine work is only part of it, however: they also need to deal with the exceptions and the inbound customer inquiries that can’t be automated, but can be made more digital so that they can be tracked and shared. They are implementing a single inquiry platform with the goal of improving service levels, service quality and client satisfaction, which requires capturing all of the inquiries as they arrive — by paper, email and other forms — and routing them to the right team for resolution. There’s certainly a strong element of old-school imaging and workflow in this solution (begging the question why they haven’t done this decades ago), but appears to also have more modern elements of user experience, decisioning and analytics.

At the heart of this, it’s not an amazing technology story — they’ve automated straight-through processes, then implemented the less predictable processes in a BPM/case management environment — but it’s a good process improvement and change management story for how a very old organization can transform itself by embracing continuous process improvement and developing best practices. They have a two-tier model for their CPI teams that allow the best practices to flow through a centralized team to more distributed teams, allowing the distributed teams to adapt the best practices for their particular areas. More importantly, they have a company-wide shift in focus to continuous improvement: in Kuhn’s words, delighting their customers by doing what they’re good at.

PegaWORLD Breakout: The Process Of Everything

Setrag Khoshafian and Bruce Williams of Pega led a breakout session discussing the crossover between the internet of things (IoT) — also known as the internet of everything (IoE) or the industrial internet — and BPM as we know it. The “things” in IoT can be any physical device, from the FitBit on my wrist to my RFID-enabled conference badge to the plane that flew me here, none of which you would think of primarily as a computing device. If you check out my coverage of the Bosch Connected World conference from earlier this year, there’s a lot being done in this area, and these devices are becoming full participants in our business processes. Connected devices are now pervasive in several sectors, from consumer to manufacturing to logistics, with many of the interactions being between machines, not between people and machines, enabled by automation of processes and decisions over standard communication networks. There’s an explosion of products and players, and also an explosion of interest, putting us in the middle of the tipping point for IoT. There are still a number of challenges here, such as standardization of platforms and protocols: I expect to see massive adoption of dead-end technologies, but hopefully they’re so inexpensive that changing out to standardized platforms won’t be too painful in a couple of years.

Getting everything instrumented is the first step, but devices on their own don’t have a lot of value; as Khoshafian pointed out, we need to turn the internet of things into the process of everything. A sea of events needs to feed into a sense/respond engine that drives towards outcomes, whether a simple status outcome, a repair request, or automation and control. BPM, or at least the broad definition of intelligent BPM that includes decisions and analytics, is the perfect match for that sense and respond capability. There are widespread IoT applications for energy saving through smart homes and offices regulating and adjusting their energy consumption based on demand and environmental conditions; in my house, we have a Nest smoke/CO detector and some WeMo smart metered electrical outlets, both of which can be monitored and controlled remotely (which is what happens when a systems engineer and a controls engineer get together). I’ve seen a number of interesting applications in healthcare recently as well; Williams described nanobots being used in surgery and Google Glass used by healthcare workers, as well as many personal health sensors available for everyday home use. Cool stuff, although many people will be freaked out by the level of monitoring and surveillance that is now possible from many devices in your home, office and public environments.

This was more of a visionary session than any practicalities of using Pega products for addressing IoT applications, although we did hear a bit about the technological ramifications in terms of authentication, integration, open standards, and managing and detecting patterns in the sheer volume of device data. Definitely some technical challenges ahead.

We’re headed off to lunch and the technology pavilion, but first I’m going to use the WeMo app on my phone to turn on the desk lamp in my home office so that my cat can snooze under it for the afternoon: the small scale practical application of IoT.

A Vision Of Business Transformation At PegaWORLD

The second half of today’s keynote started with a customer panel of C-level executives: Bruce Mitchell, CTO at Lloyds Banking Group, Jessica Kral, CIO for Medicare & Retirement at UnitedHealthcare, and Richard Haley, CFO at FBI, moderated by Rafe Brown, CFO at Pega. Some interesting comments there about how their organizations are transforming: a shift to customer focus while improving efficiency by reducing handoffs on inbound calls; how incremental development and faster release cycles reduce risk and improve business-IT alignment; and how big data can be used to improve context for everything from customer journeys to police investigations.

We finished the morning with new product highlights from Kerim Akgonul, Pega’s SVP of product management. Their case interface is the cornerstone of the new look of Pega: business processes are described at a high level by  simple linear stage view, with processes that might happen at each stage listed below: very reminiscent of the simplified phase views that I’ve seen in a number of other products, both design-time and runtime. I still maintain that there are many processes that don’t lend themselves to a simple stage/phase representation, since activities from multiple phases may be happening simultaneously, but this seems to be a popular representation.

According to their customers and partners, it’s 6.4 times faster to deliver on Pega 7 than direct Java development (assuming, of course, that Pega becomes your captive application development environment, which is not an option for many organizations), and there are definitely many capabilities in the platform and solutions built on that platform, such as next best action marketing, sales force automation and customer process manager. Predictive analytics is definitely assuming a higher profile as a competitive differentiator in sales, marketing, CRM and other customer-facing applications, since it can help provide better customer service as well as improve sales goals. A recent acquisition is also giving them robust mobile support, allowing mobile and remote workers to participate fully in case management activities, while other acquisitions are providing interactive customer support and social media engagement.

Don Schuerman, CTO at Pega, joined Kerim on stage to show how all of these things can come together, with a (fictional) insurance company responding to a tweet about motorcycles with an offer for motorcycle insurance, tied directly in to their back office systems for quotes as well as their call center and CRM system. They demonstrated a seamless integration between the insurance app and the call center agent’s screen, allowing the CSR to push application documents to the customer’s phone in real time. Fun demo of omni channel for integrated communication, next best action with product recommendations, and business processes for fulfillment, complete with drone delivery and helmet-mounted crash detectors.

That’s it for the day 1 keynotes at PegaWORLD 2014; we’re off to a breakout session before lunch and a tour around the technology pavilion, then an afternoon of breakouts and some roundtables with executives.