In 2010 I interviewed Bonitasoft CEO Miguel Valdes Faura and with all the activity in the industry right now I think it’s time to revisit some of these early interviews. So Mac McConnell, VP of Marketing at Bonitasoft kindly stepped in to give this thoughts on BPM and its future for 2013.
Mac is Vice President of Marketing and is responsible for all aspects of global marketing, including brand awareness, communications, demand and lead generation, and go to market. He comes to BonitaSoft from BlueBird Strategies, a San Francisco-based lead generation advisory firm that he co-founded and served as managing parter. Previously, Mac was Global Marketing Lead for Sun Microsystems’ mid market group, where he developed successful programs that generated over $400 million in sales pipeline. He has also held prominent sales roles at JPMorganChase and Deutsche Banc Alex Brown.
Theo: What were some of the bigger challenges that you saw organizations struggling with in 2012 and what do you predict for 2013?
Mac: Sometimes it amazes me that modern organizations, with their hierarchical corporate structure, department silos, and collaboration initiatives, have survived into the 21st century. The 21st century organization can be a highly dysfunctional and wasteful entity. I don’t think the challenges have changed much in 2012, but the impact of this dysfunction is more acute.
The “great recession” saw a long period of organizational contraction. People lost their jobs. Technology investments were deferred or canceled. Management consultants were not consulted. As organizations begin to embrace growth again (not a universal phenomenon), a new challenge arises. How do we waste less time, opportunities, and knowledge? They want to learn from recent events and put in place flexible foundations that minimize and monitor the waste within their organization.
At the start of 2013, conversations have begun to shift, especially in Europe and North America. There is an expectation that we will shortly enter a new era of municipal, federal and potentially global regulation. Managers are looking down the road and researching techniques and technology to manage this new environment. “Compliance” and “audit trails” are the buzzwords of the day.
Luckily governments move slowly, so organizations have some time to implement efficient regulation-compliant processes.
Theo: Since being in the BPM market, has there been a shift in attitudes towards process on an enterprise scale, or do organizations still look at it as a point solution to one problem?
Mac: Yes and no. The art, science, and technology of BPM is better known in business and technical roles than it was a few years ago. This is great, because it allows for a more sophisticated process conversation. Organizations are doing their homework before reaching out to BPM vendors. The catch is they are still approaching BPM as a solution for a specific process or department. Some BPM gurus and BPMS vendors will argue that this is short-sighted.
I disagree. I cringe when I hear about organizations undertaking monolithic BPM initiatives. The best indication of future success is having a process owner (department head) call BonitaSoft, after seeing BPM work well in another department, and say that they would like to share similar progress. BPM works best when people are pulled to it because they see its transformative power, not when it is pushed upon them in a massive undertaking.
Theo: Do customers understand what BPM is when they approach you? What do you tell them it is?
Mac: As I said previously, we are seeing functional and IT departments reaching out to us with knowledge that there is a thing called BPM. Some know that it is a management discipline. Others, think it is just another three letter acronym for a type of software in the vein of ERP, CRM, MDM, ESB, etc. What they have difficulty seeing is how BPM applies to the day-to-day issue they are facing.
Our approach is to reorganize the conversation around processes being strategic assets within an organization. These assets need to be managed and a BPMS is a great tool to do this. Once the customer sees process as something to be actively managed (as opposed to set and forgotten), then we can explain the principles of BPM, our language – BPMN, and our tool – Bonita Open Solution.
Theo: How does a customer measure a successful outcome and return on its investment in a BPMS ?
Mac: Unfortunately, most organizations define their process ROI by doing more things, doing more things in parallel, doing things faster, or doing the same number of things with the same or less resources. My feeling is that this is a very limited view and is what holds the BPM industry back.
Instead, companies need to be more enlightened about process ROI metrics. How about customer satisfaction? Maybe a net promoter score increase? Or, the contribution that the BPMS made in meeting an organizational goal such as new customer or revenue targets?
Well managed processes have a much bigger impact on companies than merely saving time and money. Process owners, business analysts, and IT pros should embrace grander success metrics when kicking off a process improvement process.
Theo: Social, Mobile, Internet of Things, Big Data, Process Mining; which will have the biggest impact on BPM over the next couple of years?
Mac: All five are going to converge and disrupt the BPM world in the next few years. No question about that. But, we need to consider the maturity of each item. For example, the “Internet of Things” is a great concept and the applicability to BPM should be obvious. Some organizations are already creating their own Internet of Things with their intranets using RFID and other technologies and integrating with BPM. But intranets are confined, by definition, not universal – I think it will take a long time for that to come to fruition.
Mobile will be king. Process interaction will need to be extended to every device imaginable. Bring your own device (BYOD), Cloud, and new device forms have empowered the end user and they are demanding their freedom. The BPM vendors are sure to keep up with this trend. My questions is whether the process design and models can effectively incorporate the mobile experience.
Social is an area that I think will have the least impact on BPM over the next few years, despite all the current efforts by BPMS vendors and BPM analysts. The reason is simple. Organizations do not need another social stream. They do not even know how to use the ones they already have installed. Instead, the focus should be on integrating process information into the current social stream.
Theo: How has creating and incubating active community led development helped BonitaSoft?
Mac: The community has been great for us. The 40,000+ members have shared their ideas and feedback on Bonita Open Solution. In particular, community members have created connectors between Bonita Open Solution and applications such as Twitter, Facebook, Azure, RSS Reader, or SQLite. These are connectors that were not a priority for BonitaSoft to develop, but members of the community saw the value and did it themselves. We have also seen community members share and request feedback on many different process diagrams.
Theo: Has being an Open Source BPM solution impacted going mainstream up against the bigger players?
No question, our Open Source BPM model has helped us compete against the larger vendors. It has allowed us to get our software into many companies very quickly. Also, going back to the ROI question, Bonita Open Solution often comes in at a more attractive price allowing process owners to attain a higher ROI on their BPM investment.
There are a lot of Open Source initiatives going on in the public and private sectors. We are immediately considered for these projects if there is a need for a BPM Suite.
Our goal has always been to democratize the BPM market by bringing an affordable, complete, and very powerful solution to market. We have accomplished this using Open Source.
Theo: What’s around the corner for BonitaSoft this year, what’s the cool stuff we should expect?
Mac: We are working on some very exciting stuff. We doubled our R&D investment in 2012 doubling our engineers and product management teams. This has allowed us to make progress on the next evolution of Bonita Open Solution.
I am not ready to give exact details, but you can be assured we are focusing on some of the items you highlighted above. Our customers and open source users are looking to make the design, development, and execution of process more efficient. If we think new features and functionality can help them with this – then our engineers are working on it.
(Bonitasoft are also running a social media competition called #ExtremeProcess to find the worst process experience, if you want to take part follow the linky: Extreme Process