1.0 Business Conditions: The Perfect Storm

Businesses are currently facing a perfect storm of, amongst others, rapid digital change, empowered customers and globalization. Digitalization means most organizations need to operate in virtual and real worlds and if we are to believe Gartner (Hill, 2014) these two worlds will merge in the near future. People, things and business will soon become so interconnected that it will be hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

Organizations are in global competition – whether they intend it or not – as consumers use the internet to access, compare and purchase from businesses all over the world. Armed with the power of social media, customers are quick to react if a product or service fails to meet expectations. As a consequence, organizations need to respond more nimbly than ever to avoid an individual complaint turning into a global crisis.

Meanwhile, game-changing digitalization is shifting the information technology landscape. Consumer demands, swift technological development and unprecedented internet growth are stimulating further proliferation of digitalization. Currently there are around 10 billion people, processes and things connected to the internet but the proliferation of mobile technology is expected to increase that to 50 billion by 2020. The cloud will be at the heart of the growth of this “Internet of Everything”.

With this impending commercial metamorphosis sounds alarming, there’s no need to panic. Although the questions may be around global digitalization, the answer is about process. To thrive in this gale force wind of change, business leaders need to acquire a better understanding of the processes within their organizations so that they can identify priorities and make more informed decisions. They need to create agility where it matters by rapidly adopting new practices in some areas while aligning routine processes to improve efficiency and compliance in others. In BPM-D terms, they need to become a Next Generation Enterprise (Kirchmer, Franz, 2014-3).

In a recent research project that BPM-D conducted with Widener University and the Universidad de Chile we investigated the relationship between digitalization and BPM and received feedback from over 200 executives across a wide range of industries globally. The results of this are being documented in a following paper but 63% of respondents who are engaged in more mature digitalization have improved their BPM capability alongside this in the past two years. This is another indicator of the importance of process management as an enabler of this dynamic and fast moving environment.

In this dynamic world it is not enough to merely improve processes. The BPM-Discipline also needs to deliver standardization and harmonization to enable consistent, innovative and agile customer service around the world. In the next section we recognize the importance of standardization and harmonization as one of the prerequisites to delivering change fast and effectively. In the later sections we show how using key elements of the Business Process Management Discipline (BPM-D) has been shown to significantly enhance the effectiveness and pace of achieving standardization and harmonization.

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