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3 BPM Trends You Need to Know for 2018

Alena Davis, Appian
February 9, 2018

The business process management sector is undergoing a seismic shift as more organizations transform around digital technologies. With a greater emphasis on digital, many companies are realizing that the technology itself doesn't change how they work. Instead, emerging solutions are valuable only when they are used to foster better work processes and empower users to get the job done more effectively. As such, BPM solutions are getting renewed attention for their way to coordinate, optimize and automate the underlying processes that keep work flowing smoothly. In essence, BPM is the connecting fabric in the modern digital enterprise.

With BPM gaining such momentum, 2018 is shaping up to be a big year in terms of how businesses use the technology to change the way they meet customer demands. Three major BPM trends that are poised to shape 2018 are:

1. Businesses are Transforming Customer and Employee Experiences

As discussions on customer experiences continue to dominate a variety of industries, many organizations are becoming acutely aware that they can't make life better for their customers without eliminating the roadblocks that limit how employees handle key tasks. If workers are jumping through hoops to collaborate with colleagues, escalate support requests and access important data, those workers aren't going to be able to support customer experience excellence. Medium contributor Himal Randeniya, CEO and founder of Workflows, identified two key ways that BPM is shifting for 2018 as customer and employee experience movements come together:

    • Focusing on rapid responses: According to Randeniya, consumers are demanding extremely responsive services. BPM is helping businesses create such offerings by allowing for real-time data communication across lines of business and enabling key tasks to be passed between users seamlessly. If customer support needs to ask the warehouse to send out a replacement order, for example, it's just a matter of clicking a few buttons and letting automated systems in the backend pass on the necessary information. Then customer support can provide an update to clients in a matter of moments, making life easier for everybody involved.

    • Increasing collaboration: The rise of enterprise social solutions that allow for chat and data sharing is ushering in an era where employees communicate in more intuitive ways. BPM technologies can take this benefit to another level by automating repetitive communications, such as process-related alerts, making it easier for users in different departments to work together. Furthermore, data integration functionality within a BPM solution ensures that the information moves between users with the process, eliminating the need for extra emails and similar communications. Randeniya explained that collaboration is rising as a way to help people work more intelligently, and BPM takes such capabilities to another level.

BPM software streamlines the backend workings of an organization to create better employee experiences, laying a foundation for smarter, more responsive customer interactions. All of this is made possible through a combination of process optimization and automation, transforming the way workers and customers engage with one another.

2. Organizations are Embracing RPA

Robotic process automation allows organizations to capture data within backend systems and take action on that information based on predetermined parameters. In its simplest form, this innovation can be used for a simple workflow, but modern RPA solutions can incorporate artificial intelligence and robust analytics functionality to handle incredibly complex workflows.

Enterprise Irregulars contributor Phil Fersht, HfS Research CEO and chief analyst explained that RPA had a big year in 2017 and is poised to move into the mainstream in 2018. RPA can connect processes, workflows and applications out to the devices a user works on. As such, RPA can eliminate the manual processes that have long held companies back and make complex custom code within data workflows a thing of the past.

Randeniya echoed this sentiment, explaining that RPA can help businesses get away from being overwhelmed by all of the technology at their disposal. In this context, RPA serves as a great simplifier, taking complex and unwieldy processes and integrating them. All of this is happening as companies work to shift from having a variety of divergent apps and services into a system where they do most of their work from a central platform, something that brings us to our third major BPM trend for 2018.

3. App Platforms are Driving Digital Transformation

Application development platforms are emerging as fuel for digital transformation. These solutions provide a stable backend ecosystem in the cloud so companies can easily build out workflows, processes and applications that integrate with one another. Low-code platforms especially standout for their ability to simplify development through a visual interface that allows non-programmers to mix-and-match distinct elements into a cohesive app. When platforms are combined with BPM functionality, the ability to align business and technology needs ramps up considerably.

As BPM solutions continue to evolve, they are increasingly being built into app platforms where they provide an underlying engine for process optimization and automation. If a user needs an app to serve as a central hub for a product development initiative, the individual can:

    • Drag-and-drop interface elements to craft a GUI.

    • Use pre-built data workflows and APIs to pull the right data into the app.

    • Establish user roles and permissions in a simple directory system.

    • Leverage BPM tools to map out processes that interact with the app and automatically pull in relevant data, send notifications to stakeholders or otherwise streamline operations.

With platforms that are founded on BPM functionality, organizations can keep up with the enterprise app revolution. Just a year or two ago, companies could use low-code to build simple apps, such as a parking or lunchroom system that has value but doesn't transform the business. With BPM and backend security systems in place, contemporary app platforms are becoming central hubs for digital transformation, providing an avenue where data and processes flow freely within the controls that IT teams put in place.

Appian is leading this transition to extend BPM's reach into the platform segment. Out Platform-as-a-Service solution offers robust low-code functionality combined with our proven BPM software to drive innovation in the enterprise. Need a new process? You can roll it out in weeks instead of months. Need to automate a complex process? Use our RPA tools to identify and streamline repeatable tasks. Ultimately, today's businesses need to change how they function to take full advantage of digital technologies. BPM solutions streamline those changes by providing greater operational flexibility.

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