An Audience With….Romeo Elias, President of Interneer

Romeo is the President and Founder of Interneer Inc.  He is an experienced software executive, BPM expert, patented inventor and entrepreneur advisor.  He oversaw Interneer’s growth from its founding in 2000 to an established software company with fortune 1000 customers and a global network of partners. Romeo is responsible for all operations, product development, customer implementations, business development and overall growth.


Prior to Interneer, Romeo worked in the consumer electronics space, overseeing the engineering design and development of handheld electronics from concept through manufacturing.  He was also the founder of an early web development consultancy, focused on helping small businesses establish a web presence.  He has published numerous whitepapers and reports on BPM, Project Management and Manufacturing.


Romeo received his MS in Manufacturing Engineering from UCLA and BS in Mechanical Engineering from UCSD.


2009 was seen as a fairly turbulent for most but towards the end year many kicked off major change programs focused on process transformation. How do you expect 2010 will unfold for the BPM industry generally and for BPM Vendors ?


BPM is gaining more and more acceptance in the business community as a defined space with a clear value proposition and we are seeing more awareness from companies and IT departments of the benefits of BPM Automation.   I think 2010 will continue in the same direction with further adoption by organizations, but with notable expansion to medium and small businesses.


Do you expect clients to alter their buying criteria as a result of the downturn and concentrate on initial cost first rather than ROI or indeed the need for BPM itself to support strategy ?


Among larger organizations, those that already had a BPM strategy in place prior to the downturn, continued with that strategy, and with no alterations.  Others who were facing reorganization decisions, implemented BPM initiatives.  As for automation, we did see a decline during the downturn and only projects with an immediate and clear ROI were candidates for the automation.  With 2010 and the beginning of the recovery, we are starting to see a slow but steady return to the previous levels of spending and project initiatives.


What’s your definition and philosophy towards BPM ?


I think our philosophy is best described in our mission statement: To help our customers achieve process excellence through the power and benefits of Business Process Management software, but at a fraction of the cost and complexity. 


To expand further, we take a back-to-basics approach to BPM and BPM automation:


1.       Focus on the business analysts, the main stakeholders and domain experts in an organization.  As such, empower them to be able to implement as much of their vision and ideas directly.  We do this through our completely drag and drop solution, with absolutely no programming, from design to launch.

2.       Focus on speed and ease of use.  BPM software’s core benefit is to automate processes at a much faster pace than traditional software development.  We ensure processes can be deployed or modified quickly and easily by the business analyst, in an intuitive environment.

3.       Focus on Human Centric processes automation which is where we believe many of the cost and time inefficiencies exist in most organizations today. 

4.       Avoid the Big Bang approach of trying to automate everything at once.  We believe in tackling processes based on immediate pain and highest return, while maintaining an eye on the long term goal. 

5.       Organizations are increasingly distributed and as such the entire BPM Suite needs to be available web based, empowering all stakeholders anywhere anytime.

6.      Keep costs within reach of all organization types and sizes.  There is no reason why a company that has reached the process maturity level to benefit from BPM shouldn’t be able to do that.


Do you see an eventual convergence between BPM, CRM, ECM and other similar process-centric markets ?


There has already been convergence among these, specifically among niche verticals or specialty industries, where COTS solutions don’t fit the organization’s processes.  For example, A CRM solution built on a BPM platform will, by design, be more flexible and easier to adapt to a business and market.  However, when that market matures and its processes stabilize, the scale tips to the side of purchasing a COTS CRM solution since there is less need for the flexibility and adaptability.


A lot of mention has been made of dynamic and unstructured processes and workflow, what’s your prediction in this area ?


As the BPM Software market matures and companies begin to understand better the problems they solve and benefits they provide, they also start to identify areas and problems that were not understood well or that they thought were not addressable cost effectively.  This happened last with Human Centric workflows when companies started to grasp that even those manual, non-system specific, paper or spreadsheet based processes can also be automated effectively.  Similarly now, the focus is expanding to include dynamic and unstructured processes and workflow, which in the past were considered too difficult to address. 


An  article in Forrester talked about  turning to the process professionals more in 2010 and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant underwent a makeover in how they approached their analysis last year. Do you still see a need for the kind of high brow research which is perceived to be vendor led/ driven given the rise of independent professional blogs and insight columns ?


Yes.  The analyst firms like Forrester and Gartner cater to the larger organizations and they will continue to set the benchmark and standards for these organizations.  However, independent professional blogs and insight columns are providing a critical role in that they provide a broader range of opinion and perspective, not solely focused on the larger vendors and organizations.  In addition, as buyers continue to become self-educated and content seekers and the sales process transforms to research and content driven, the need is even larger now to have a diversity of opinion and perspective.  I predict that Gartner and Forrester will expand their business model to be able to compete moving forward with the diversity of perspective and opinions, and may in fact integrate this into their coverage.


There’s a shift towards Cloud/ SaaS offerings, Social BPM fever is starting to take hold after a few years in the wilderness and some are venturing into the Mobile space, are these viable roadmaps for vendors to look into or just hype for now ?


Definitely, especially the Cloud.  SaaS is no l
onger a passing fad but is becoming a core consideration for every company today with a technology purchase decision.  In the not so distant past, the considerations had been around security in the cloud, to connection speed and lack of integration.  Today, with the advent of high availability Service Level Agreements of providers, secure and redundant Data Centers and web services, the conversation has shifted more to which is the best budget to cover this purchase and which model provides the best ROI for our organization. 


As for the Mobile space, in today’s business world, Blackberries and iPhones have become ubiquitous as the business desktop and being mobile is a necessity.  BPM has and will continue to support these technologies in various forms, ranging from simple text notifications to full on activity processing.


Finally, Social BPM still being in its infancy, it is hard to see the road map on how social networks and BPM will converge.  It is still in the realm of research at this time and perhaps a series of use cases will emerge soon that will cause yet another disruption to this market.  My prediction will be that should they emerge, these use cases will be around the ability to    democratize process creation and definition across an organization, or perhaps even user communities.


If there was one thing you could tell someone who is just starting out on the BPM journey what would it be ?


BPM does not have to be a massive undertaking of time, people, resources and costs.  Cultural change is always the biggest obstacle to a BPM implementation success, not technology or software.  Focus on the reason that made you decide to embark on this journey.  Solve that problem and build on it.  By focusing on eliminating the pain that most users agree on and want to solve, you win the cultural battle first and are able to build on your success, established track record and trust.


What’s the next big thing you would like to see happening in BPM ?


From a market standpoint, I would like to see a wider adoption of the BPM methodology and software in the market across a wide range of industries.  This can only happen when more BPM software vendors emerge that offer value to companies of all sizes and types and when more research analysts educate the market on what is possible with BPM, rather on the obstacles in the way and resources required to get started.  In addition, I would like to see the BPM methodology and software be incorporated into educational institutions and programs, with the ultimate goal of empowering and providing business analysts the tools they need in their careers.


Finally, what next for Interneer ?


Since our inception, listening closely to our customers, users and partners has paid off many folds in our success.  Interneer will continue to do so, to innovate and disrupt the BPM market space with solutions that take BPM back to its roots, empowering the business analyst, focusing on ease of use and rapid time to value, at the fraction of the cost and complexity. 


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