Survey Highlights Why Johnny Can't Manage a Business Process

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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.