How does your company do things? Efficiently and appropriately? Or are you outdated and arthritic? A lot depends on the process.
Organisations looking to transform themselves are running headlong into a major problem: there are no longer enough integrators or programmers in the world to build all the processes and all the variants of the processes those organisations now need.
Globalisation, the demand for customised processes all along the supply chain, the increasing number of connections between organisations and systems, not to mention the intensity of the economy and resultant push for ever-greater levels of automation, are all making process improvement a new imperative. And it is getting harder to deliver by the day.
"It doesn't seem to matter if we are in an upturn or a downturn, the demand for process improvement seems to be ever-rising," says CSC European CTO Howard Smith. "Whether it's to improve, automate, streamline, simplify, customise, extend, integrate, re-design, outsource or simply monitor processes, BPM [business process management] is needed. There just aren't enough programmers and system integrators on the planet to actually provide those processes and process adaptations as a set of point solutions."
Smith and noted industry expert Peter Fingar are proposing a revolution in the way enterprises use IT for competitive advantage, detailed in a new book called Business Process Management: The Third Wave (see page 108 for an excerpt of the book). The innovators claim to have achieved a breakthrough in process management thinking that promises to deliver significant business benefits. They argue there is a fundamental shift in business infrastructure services under way, from stovepipe applications and associated "data processing", to dynamic connected processes and associated "process processing". Theirs is a new paradigm designed to slash the total cost of process ownership and the lag time between management intent and execution, while allowing the creation and manipulation of a host of new breed processes which have until now never been able to be supported by IT automation.
"Companies have always had processes and have always sought to manage them, but the way they have done this has changed fundamentally over the years," Smith says. "The third wave is radically new since it contains new process mathematics, new process thinking and new process systems."
And that third wave is allowing CSC to paint a picture of the process managed enterprise of the future, where the IT infrastructure is process neutral and processes manifest themselves to users through a process portal. Within that portal people interact with processes in a variety of different ways - viewing them in the context of their work and interacting with them for a variety of purposes, including monitoring, optimisation and exception handling. They can perform queries upon the process data that would be maintained in the process warehouse or database, and those queries can be used to construct management dashboards, for example, showing the performance of a process.
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