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Social BPM and the Real-world Complexity of Changing Priorities

Ben Farrell
February 2, 2012

I enjoyed Adam Deane's recent post on "BPM: Priorities." He points out how limited typical BPM systems are in dealing with the complexities of how work actually gets done based on the often chaotic nature of how business and task priorities constantly change. In my opinion, this is where Social BPM capabilities become so critical.

The problem is, most BPM software vendors (and frankly, many industry pundits) have a limited view of what Social BPM really is. They relegate it to collaborative process design - making it easier for a handful of pre-designated people to work together in developing a process diagram. This is, at best, a single. The grand-slam home run happens when Social BPM is applied to real-time collaborations across all employees (and customers) while business processes are being executed.

Let's say you work in customer support for a large insurance firm. A customer has logged a trouble ticket for a rather mundane issue, and you have received a task with an appropriately moderate priority level. Let's also say that, unbeknownst to you, a sales rep is sitting in a meeting with that customer discussing a large up-sell opportunity. While the support issue is nothing major, it is sticking in the customer's craw and jeopardizing the deal. Through a Social BPM activity stream, the rep can do a search for the customer name, pull up all info related to that customer (including the trouble ticket event) and instantly post a comment about the sudden and unexpected urgency to resolve it. You instantly see the comment, take care of the mundane issue, and before the rep leaves the meeting, the problem is fixed.

If you're using Appian, all of that took place via a single unified interface that's as easy to use as Facebook. Unlike Facebook, however, Appian unites complex back-end enterprise systems, such as those used across your support and sales departments, and allows you to read data from and take action on those various systems from that single interface.

Social BPM isn't limited to internal system and human events, either. Here's another example:

You work for a property management company in Chicago. You have set up your Appian Social BPM feed to automatically track and post Twitter tweets containing the word "relocation." A post appears in your Appian interface that says, "About to announce HQ relocation to Chicago. Start the apartment hunting!" You check the poster's profile and see that she works for ACME, Inc.

ACME hasn't issued their corporate press release on the HQ move yet, so your sales team has an opportunity to scoop competitors. Still in the Appian interface, you launch a case called "Jump on this Chicago relocation opportunity," and add the comment "We have lots of Chicago apartments. Find ACME's HR contact and offer some incentives." This case goes immediately into process, gets assigned to your Chicago rep, and you're off to the races.

These are just two examples. Once you get your head around the real potential for run-time Social BPM, the possibilities are virtually unlimited.

Ben Farrell, Director, Corporate Communications