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With the Rise of Intelligent Automation, BPM Matters Now More Than Ever Before

Roland Alston, Appian
June 5, 2019

If you Google intelligent automation, you'll see that businesses are automating tasks more than ever before. So much so, that the intelligent automation market is expected to explode from $12.4 billion in 2018 to more than $230 billion by 2025, according to KPMG.

But how do you orchestrate digital labor across the entire organization? That's where Business Process Management (BPM) comes in. Here's how Research analyst Neil Ward-Dutton broke down the challenge in a recent interview on

"The opportunity to automate has increased dramatically," says Ward-Dutton, "because the economics have changed. "If we look back just 5 or 10 years, there was some very sophisticated BPM software and integration technology available to automate things like financial processing in banks, or provisioning of service in telecom networks, for example. These were big, hairy, challenges with lots of value associated with them."

"What's happened more recently," says Ward-Dutton, "is that new tactics and technologies have become available that enable us to automate more kinds of work. It's basically about barriers to entry coming down, because it's cheaper to automate things."

BPM, Essential to Orchestrating Digital Labor

The big question is: how does BPM fit into this relentless automation trend? Ward-Dutton says that BPM will play a huge role in orchestrating intelligent automation across the organization.

"We're finding that instead of being applied just to very complex back office situations," says Dutton, "we're seeing BPM also being applied on a much smaller scale, at the departmental level to solve less strategic issues. That's the first point to make about why BPM is still important. This technology enables work to be coordinated effectively across teams and departments or the whole supply chain.

"And when you start to look at all of the other automation-related technologies that are trending," says Ward-Dutton, "such as RPA, AI, machine learning, and decision management, BPM plays an important role as the conductor of all of these capabilities."

Think about the billions of bots out there that are doing everything from taking your pizza order to updating the balance in your bank account. To put the trend in perspective,Gartner estimated that 60% of organizations with revenue of more than $1 billion deployed RPA tools last year. By the end of 2022, 85 percent of them will have deployed some form of RPA.

The misconception is that if you have RPA, you don't need anything else. But the challenge is bigger than that. Insome cases, tasks need to be automated from end to end. In other cases, the automation may augment human labor instead with "smart assistants" that help workers do a specific job more effectively. All of which is to say that it's essential to think strategically about orchestrating automation in your organization.

Here's the thing. The digital economy is filled with challenges, opportunities and risks. To compete and win, the mostinnovative businesses are embracing new business models and processes that drive long-term customer value. The challenge is to find a BPM platform that enables you to turn on a dime, work smarter and innovate faster. Fundamentally, the BPM story is a digital transformation story, but there's a lot of confusion about what digital businesstransformation really means. There's even more confusion about how to make it work.

The secret lies in building business capabilities on digital platforms that enable you to do three core things inparallel, in an integrated way:

    • Build new capabilities quickly

    • Measure what works and doesn't work

    • Make changes quickly, based on measurement and feedback

Experts say that the best BPM platforms add value in three specific ways: They make it easy toshare knowledge and coordinate work across teams, departments and business entities; they simplify change; and take the complexity out of tracking and managing performance over time.But simply automating and optimizing business processes is not enough to keep pace with the blistering pace of digital transformation. Businesses must streamline workflows, build data into everyday processes and add value tothe the customer experience.

When embraced by IT staff and business process owners, modern BPM can solvevirtually any business challenge by providing contextual awareness and instant access to the information you need to take action that will drive the best business outcome.

4 Ways Low-Code + BPM Drives Operational Success

With the rise of low code, the vision for BPM is fast becoming a reality: Non developers can now get involved in building solutions and testing them out with customers. In the past, you'd have a handful of people on an IT team that did all of the innovation. But that could turn into a bottleneck for innovation and nothing new gets delivered.Low-code is the opposite of that. And combining it with BPM allows non-developers to collaborate with IT to design, build and test new ideas that can have a huge impact on an organization:

    • Automate repeatable tasks:For example, setting up automatic notifications to speed response time for customer service tickets.

    • Coordinate processes across teams:Limited process coordination capabilities can make it that much harder for businesses to streamline operations across the the organization BPM tools formalize processes throughout the organization and serve as a hub for inter-departmental communication, reporting and task tracking.

    • Adapt quickly to changing conditions:Companies that lack formal, documented and optimized processes can struggle trying to adapt to changing conditions. In contrast, BPM provides more visibility into processes so businesses can make changes faster.

    • Align technology and processes: BPM allows legacy and new systems to talk to each other which is a critical success factor in the age of digital transformation.

Don't Get Stuck on Process

"The thing is, not to just focus on the process model," says Clay Richardson, digital transformation expert and Co-founder and CEO of Digital FastForward. "I think this is where many companies fall prey to digital predators. When you're transitioning from traditional BPM to digital, you have to focus on the customer experience, empathizing with the customer, and building solutions that meet customer expectations."

"Part of that is about using various technologies in your BPM platform in different ways. But the main idea is that you have to move past process as your primary focus for design. Whether you use BPM technology, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or other complementary technologiesÖwhen it comes to digital, the focus should always be on the customer and the customer experience," says Richardson.

What it comes down to is this: BPM isn't going anywhere. Software vendors are re-purposing their platforms to support digital transformation. They're building capability around user experience design and emerging technologies such as RPA and intelligent automation. In other words, it's time to rethink how we thought about BPM in the past.

Companies are unlocking new innovation potential in modern BPM platforms.

"And part of that," says Richardson, "is about using various technologies in your BPM platform in different ways. But the main idea is that you have to move past process as your primary focus... Whether you use BPM technology, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or other complementary technologies, the focus should always be on (improving) the customer experience."