In business, digital and physical business worlds are beginning to merge

Most of us are familiar with the need for businesses to operate in the digital as well as the physical worlds. E-commerce, digital, online, social media – we’re on it, or at least working on it. But now, according to a new report by Gartner, we need to be ready for these two worlds to merge. And then there is the “Internet of the Things” where people, things and business will soon become so interconnected that it will be hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

In this new blurred world it’s not just people who will be making demands – but things too. And they’ll be talking to each other without telling us. Mobile phones will call emergency services, car computers will contact the garage and printers will order cartridges online. Business not only needs to be ready for this change but part of it. And there’s not much time to prepare – two years tops – according to Gartner. In the manufacturing world “Industry 4.0” is seen as a way organizations integrate product, clients, technology and process using the internet.

If this impending commercial metamorphosis sounds a bit alarming, there’s no need to panic. The talk may be around digital but the action should be around process. Business leaders need a better understanding of the processes within their organisation so they can identify their priorities. To do this they need a focussed, pragmatic and interactive framework. As described in our paper “Targeting Value in a Digital World” we describe that 80% of business processes are quite static and don’t need to change. The trick is finding the right 20% and being very nimble.

The Business Process Management-Discipline (BPM-D®) brings joined up thinking and a structured methodology; in essence it’s a systematic approach to a good office clear out. It can assist business leaders identify which parts of their organisations are already digital, agile and adaptive and which are more routine and standard. It can focus the necessary interventions required to drive up the adaptability of these standard processes and then it can place a ‘guard rail’ around the dynamic parts of the business to ensure that processes do not run out of control.

A tidal wave of digital-meets-physical is heading straight for us so it’s time grab your surf boards and work out how to stay on. I recommend taking control of your business processes if you want to avoid a wipe out.

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6 years ago

Very interesting discussion.Like Frank I was critical on the non human aspect of BPM but like Ron I know that this is not the objective of BPM.In fact, it can be quite frustrating to work on controling and automating things when you are people oriented but in the end BPM is here to replace/automate/optimize processes.One (human side) is not always the opposite of the other (software side) as this just use the natural tendency to evolve toward more complex activities moving humans from basic activities to less repetitive ones (and may be bring a better sense of purpose).