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BPM software structured to handle unstructured enterprise functions

Malcolm Ross, Senior Vice President, Product Strategy, Appian
January 31, 2013

For years, businesses collected large quantities of transaction data, customer information and other readily-accessible knowledge that could be neatly structured within databases and applications. This created an environment in which data was a fairly simple asset in many corporate settings.

Similarly, many organizations have run their technological systems in well-organized, tightly controlled architectures that were highly structured and clearly in the realm of IT, not the business of an average worker.

The structure did not end there. Offices were, and often still are, made up of row after row of desks neatly organized into departmental structures that were kept distinct and rarely, if ever, got in each other's way.

The corporate world has, traditionally, been an incredibly structured place. That time is coming to an end.

The introduction of unstructured operations

Social media entered businesses slowly, starting with employees using it without official approval,until usagerose to such an extent that executives had to build policies for social media use. At the same time, sales, marketing and service professionals have had to adjust their highly-structured data-gathering processes to make room for all of the messy, unstructured data created by social media users.

Cloud computing, mobile devices and advanced social functionality has pushed many consumers to become more aware of technology. This led many to start bringing personal devices into the workplace and IT suddenly had a major lack of structure on its hands. The days of heavy-handed IT workers dictating the technology that employees use are gone. IT now has to focus on developing integration and automation workflows that help employees make the most of the technologies to whichthey subscribe.

Offices are not what they used to be either. If a user can get the job done from a tablet, why not work from a couch instead of a desk? If corporate IT systems are not needed to get the job done and apps are available anywhere, why not work at home, or from a cafe?

The structure is leaving every facet of operations, introducing ideas like the social enterprise, mobile workforce and consumerization of It. In theory, all of these operational trends enablebetter operations. However, the flexibility and lack of structure in such settings, where data moves quickly and processes have to respond accordingly, can be difficult to deal with. Business process management software gives organizations the integration and automation they need to add enough of a foundation to unstructured operations to maximize functionality.

Malcolm Ross

Vice President of Product Marketing