Survey Highlights Why Johnny Can't Manage a Business Process

Michael Vizard

Intuitively, we all know that the next generation of enterprise software is going to be defined by business process management. But the real question is, how long is it going to take for us to get there? The answer, according to a new survey released by the Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, is quite a long time.


Sponsored by Sterling Commerce and AT&T, the survey of over 400 business executives finds that only 8 percent said their companies were highly effective in the way they integrated and optimized their business networks, even though 68 percent said business partners are essential and more than half said the business is getting more global. This creates quite a substantial challenge for IT executives that are increasingly being asked to develop systems to manage business processes that span multiple organizations. The problem, of course, is that the business itself is usually divided about how to manage a business process, never mind actually trying to get an agreement about how a process should operate across multiple companies.

According to Liz Miller, who oversees the daily operations of both the CMO Council and the BPM Forum, the only way companies are ever going to overcome this challenge is to take a giant step back from who controls what fiefdom to focus on the needs of the customer. Instead of integrating existing processes that more than likely were defined by the desires of the business, companies need to leverage IT to re-engineer those processes to increase customer loyalty. There is no major strategic advantage to investing in IT unless it's being used to create a business process that differentiates the organization from its competitors, she said.

Unfortunately, much of this is lost on the current generation of business leaders. So it may be awhile before we see business leaders working with their IT organizations to reinvent the business. One thing is for sure, it's only a matter of time before one organization gets it right, and its competitors start to follow.

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Dec 16, 2009 10:23 AM Mark McGregor Mark McGregor  says:

What an interesting post. Maybe I misread it, but I thought that Liz Miller suggested that IT knows better than the business how to run a business? and that IT know more about serving and satisfying customers than their counterparts in business?

Hmm... let me see if I get this right, the groups within our business who seem the most disconnected from the business we are in, who don't exactly have a reputation for delivering on time and within budget and who quite often fail to deliver the functionality we require, are the very people we should trust to run our business. Surely this is not a serious post.

Let's try again. It is true that technology today can offer a great deal to support the business we want to be in. It is true that in order to make the most of that technology that we have to understand, analyse and improve our processes before we automate them. It is also true that to get the most from BPM we should consider rethinking the way we organise ourselves.

So if you want to be useful then prove that you are a partner in my business I can trust, prove that you can deliver what I thought I needed first, then by all means show me the error of my ways, for now I can trust you.

Of course the article does touch on another and perhaps more important area. BPM today is still focussed on delivering the automation of yesterday's business models, chasing faster, cheaper. The missing ingredient is around Ideas and Innovation - How can this technology help me to create new and innovative business models? how can the technology help me to leave others in my wake and redefine my market.

For this one then both business and IT have to share the blame. A lack of vision and risk on the part of business leaders. On the part of IT the lack of ability to fully understand the business to be able to communicate their ideas in a manner that makes them compelling.

Kind Regards



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