CRM = Customer Rejection Management #crm #crmfail #customerservice

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Every major organization has some form of customer call center. You may have renamed yours “contact center.” They are manned by staff that are trained, tooled-up with technology and incentivized to support customers. The center is critical because it drives long term sales and protects repeat revenue. It may even be considered a “profit center.”

Customer Strategy

But your customers are calling you less, and only when they really have to. I would suggest that CRM stands for “customer rejection management” rather than customer relationship management; and this is by design. There are three strategies that companies are adopting that are driving customers away, giving you less insight into your customers and their needs, and, ultimately, alienating them.

These strategies are:

  • Outsourcing: lets a call center operator talk to your customers;
  • Self service: lets them find their own answers; and
  • Search/social networking: lets someone else help them.

All three strategies are driven by a cost-center/cost-reduction mindset.

But the one time you force your customers to contact you is when they don’t want to. This is called non-value demand. In other words, you are making your customers do something that has no real value for them.

Either you make them call a number and sit on hold after they have navigated through a labyrinthine list of menu options; or you make them go to an unintelligible website, register by entering a huge list of personal information, wait for a validation email, and then make them try to navigate your website – all with little or no guidance or step by step instructions. Sound familiar?

Here are some examples of non-value demand:

  • Report a fault or error in a product or service.
  • Fix a problem in a product or service.
  • Confirm or acknowledge a change of contract or other details.
  • Update personal details.

The opposite of non value demand is value-demand. This is something initiated by the customer that they want for their benefit. They may not want to talk to you but it is worth their time and effort. Some examples are:

  • Ask for an increase in credit limit.
  • Cancel a product or service.
  • Order a product or service.
  • Give feedback.

What makes both non-value demand and value-demand non-functional is that companies often compound it with poorly thought through, inadequately tested and inconsistently applied business processes. I am not just talking about the screens in the CRM application but the end-to-end process: the customer journey.

This makes the experience even worse for everybody. The customer is confused and frustrated. The call center operator is uncomfortable and frustrated; i.e., the customer leaves the call upset, no matter how good, positive or cheerful your call center person is.

Good process design

The explosive growth of social networking means that there is now a wide range of ways that a customer may get their question answered. They can call you, search your website, email you, search for the answer on a forum, post the question on a social networking site like LinkedIn or Facebook, or on a micro-blogging site like Twitter.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to take a look at front office processes, and take a customer-centric perspective. Put the customer at the heart of the situation and think about their journey.

The good news is that most of the back office processes can stay the same.

This is the opportunity to take a faster, more effective yet proven approach to process capture/discovery, CRM design, and the adoption of new working practices for your customer facing staff. This can be done through interactive, collaborative process mapping sessions, rapid CRM system prototyping or role-based guided process walk-throughs delivering links to systems, videos, on screen entry, documents and forms, in the context of an end-to-end process.

Gone are consultants interviewing staff and producing complex flowcharts that cover the entire wall of the project office. The end to six to 12 month CRM/IT-centric projects. Say goodbye to offsite CRM systems training courses.

Just theory? No = Success.

Is this approach just theory, you ask? No. It can be seen on every street in the UK in Carphone Warehouse stores, with an initiative they call ‘How2’. (Full disclosure: Carphone Warehouse is a TIBCO client.)

If you can’t make it out of the office, Carphone Warehouse has documented its project in videos from several perspectives including a retail store, back office, the project sponsor. The results speak for themselves. Just from the deployment to 815 stores the ROI was 1100% in year one, customer satisfaction (NPS) was up 25%, an additional revenue of £5M in the first year and they’ve saved £50,000 per year on telephone support calls to stores. In fact, the company has just won a Gartner BPM Excellence Award in the Leveraging BPM Technology category.

Just theory? No = FAIL.

I’ll contrast this with the non-value demand experience of another UK retailer … which shall go unnamed.

Last year I moved the family to the USA and before we left we rented out our house. We called the UK-based retailer, 30 days in advance to cancel our TV/phone/broadband service (value demand). The person at the call center was very helpful. A letter arrived in the post confirming the cancellation of the TV. The letter read:

Sorry to hear you decided to cancel your subscription. Your viewing will stop on dd/mm/yyyy. (The date was wrong: non-value demand contact required.) We are delighted that you want to continue your service etc., etc., etc. (Wrong again = non-value demand contact required.).”

So we make a non-value demand call. A very helpful and friendly call center representative said that we would be receiving separate letters from each department (telephone, broadband, TV) cancelling the services.  Each, presumably, saying the other services would continue, confusing us or prompting more non-value demand calls. We were advised to simply ignore these letters when they arrived, which we did.

About a week ago we were sent a letter prompting another non-value demand call. There is a credit on the account and they wanted me to call them to let them know if we would like a check and where to send it. Far better would have been to credit our bank account or attach a check to the letter.

Processs-led thinking leads to happy customers

The people who design operational processes should think about how it feels from a customer perspective. Then how the effective use of technology can enhance the experience for everyone. The social media revolution taking place is the perfect catalyst.

Ahhh!! I feel better now. Who should I call to tell?

Gartner releases iBPMS Magic Quadrant; Confused? You should be. #bpms #bpm

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Gartner has been keen to stress that the iBPMS is not a natural evolution of the BPMS Magic Quadrant. Over a year ago Gartner suggested in research reports that IBO (Intelligent Business Operations) was the way forward-thinking clients would run their businesses. And with that in mind, the iBPMS is the technology platform that supports IBO.

So the results of the MQ were eagerly awaited by the BPM software vendors like excited school kids around the noticeboard with exam results. But many of the vendors who read the report and were probably disappointed, confused and angry  – in that order.

But probably more importantly, where does it leave clients who have made strategic decisions based on the 2010 BPMS MQ? They have made purchasing decisions, choosing the Leaders in that MQ only to find some of them languishing at the bottom of the Niche quadrant.  A couple of new entrants in strong positions are a real surprise and there are a number of companies who have not appeared.

Sadly this MQ seems to have raised more questions than it answers.

But in Gartner’s defense, the MQ research and publish process is quite lengthy (opportunity for business reengineering?) and the development cycle for software applications is getting faster. In fact the report states: “Gartner analysts conducted 14 in-depth vendor reviews during January, February and March 2012 to produce this report.”  So, by the time the MQ is published, some 6 months later, some of the criticisms (or “Cautions”) in the report have already been addressed by the software vendors.

For the record, these are my observations, not those of my employer, TIBCO Software. Whilst no vendor is happy unless they are top, top, top right in the MQ, but TIBCO can take heart from the first paragraph of the summary of their Strengths

“Tibco has all the components to make a great iBPMS…. Individually, the above listed products deliver strong functionality; however, collectively, they are not yet fully integrated. ”

The integration of different applications is front and center of the product roadmap that was presented at the recent TIBCO User Conference – TUCON – last week in Las Vegas. And many of the product integrations were announced at TUCON.

The full report can be accessed here:  iBPMS2012MQ  courtesy of BPMRedux.

The importance of the ideas of IBO cannot be understated. The need for agilty and the reacting to events whilst at the same time maintaining regulatory compliance is the challenge for every organization. Those that master it will deliver “extreme value” as TIBCO’s founder and CEO, Vivek Ranadive describes it.

So we should look forward to the evolution of the iBPMS over the next year. In exam terms this report probably gets “C+ must improve research techniques to stay current”

Fifty Shades of Finance

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In a great letter to the Financial Times, the writer has captured the essence of compliance in the financial services industry.

Malcolm Crow claims that the book Fifty Shades of Grey is not about compliance issues relating to the financial services industry.

He is clearly wrong: I have it on good authority that the book deals with bondage, domination and humiliation.

It also contains the quote “Oh, f**k the paperwork”.

Other than compliance what else could it be about.”

A can’t wait for the sequel featuring Bob Diamond, Fifty Shades of Contempt.

We’ve been bent over and bankered at a cost of £46,774 per person

The current Barclays scandal has gathered momentum and has now gone way beyond “it had insufficient business controls” as the recent Guardian article today, Barclays Libor scandal: how can we change banking culture? spells out in graphic detail. The UK population has been well and truly bankered.

To sum up the excellent article

According to the IMF, the British stuck £1.2 trillion behind the finance sector. Read that again: well over a trillion pounds in bailouts, and loans and state guarantees on bankers’ trading.

In just a few months, and with barely any public debate, every household subbed £46,774 to the City. A sliver of that money eventually went unused; as for the remaining hundreds of billions, we have no idea just how much we’ll get back – or when.

There is talk of how to change the culture of banking. As usual there is lots of rhetoric and bold statements made by the executives. But this is an operational issue and boils down to metrics and processes.

People are driven by metrics. They act as they are measured. Bankers with expensive lifestyles to maintain are driven by money – metrics. But they need clear guidelines to ensure that hit their metrics without cheating – transparent processes and business controls. This needs to be through the entire organisation – top down.

Nothing else changes culture. Not MP’s getting passionate in the House of Commons. Not threats of prison for the senior people. Not the resignation of the Chairman.

Putting in place the framework of processes and metrics throughout an organisation is very achievable as countless Nimbus clients can demonstrate. In a couple of minutes you can see how BAE Systems transformed its Shares Services operation in this video.

Now Barclays are undertaking and independent audit – but this will highlight the problems. Far better if that work is a process-driven where the outcome is a operational  process model with related metrics. Something that will change the culture. Not a report for the Barclays spin doctors.

And the good news is it will take less time that any “formal investigation” and cost less that £46,774 per person

Why Quality Management never got sexy and made it big

Nimbus Control started off 15 years ago as a Quality Management tool used by Quality Managers but we quickly realised that we were only selling one copy of our software to each company, which the Quality Manager used. That was not a great business model if world domination was the aim!  There are still some companies who were competitors way back then who still have this business model. They make a living, but sadly little more.

So we changed our software approach and addressed the fundamental problem that Dilbert has highlighted. Often the Quality Manual is something created simply to get the ISO9000 certificate on the wall.  It is a liability. A drain on resources. A white elephant.

Our vision was, and still is, that you can map and document your end to end business processes which will help you on your journey to operational excellence, and ISO9000 is a by product. I talked about this in more detail in a recent blog called Process Governance is Competitive Advantage.

So if you are a Quality Manager, don’t try and be cool and sexy. Focus instead on becoming an asset to the business, not a liability.

TIBCO acquired Nimbus; 10 weeks on it gets emotional

TIBCO acquired Nimbus at the end of August and there was the inevitable post-M&A activity. Now for those cynics who have been through this before, they will tell you that M&A stands for Murder and Attrition.

So what has it really been like? That’s what every one asks me.

Firstly TIBCO acquired a company with a stable product, strong revenues, fiercely loyal customers, and a clear vision for growth. So it was not a distressed technology purchase that could be neatly slotted into a product portfolio. TIBCO recognized that Nimbus’ value proposition could take TIBCO to the business audience in clients. Remember, TIBCO had been insanely successful with the IT audience and had grown revenue to over $800m. But they have ambitions to provide the software that enable businesses to achieve operational excellence. That means addressing both business and IT audiences.

Secondly, the core of the Nimbus executive team have elected to stay and drive Nimbus as a standalone business unit within TIBCO. We are all excited about the potential that TIBCO gives Nimbus, in effect supercharging growth. How? By raising Nimbus’ credibility, by enabling engagement with the IT organization, and by opening up access to TIBCO’s existing client base.

So there has been some integration of back office functions which has resulted in a few, but inevitable, job losses. It has been sad to see colleagues leave who have been with Nimbus for 5-10 years, but TIBCO has been very generous and the people leave with very marketable skills and fond memories.

The most critical business development activity has been the programme of educating TIBCOs existing field force of account managers and professional services teams. Which is where it has got emotional. We had great concerns that few of them would “get it” as they are very good at addressing IT departmental needs, but have been very pleasantly surprised. Not only do they understand the proposition but are happy to work with us to open up new opportunities in their clients. Inevitably there will be squabbling over account control, but a sensible commission plan (i.e. money) sorts that out.

So what has the reaction been? In a word – emotional. Here’s the reaction from one of the TIBCO ‘s top Solution Consultants having watched Nimbus Control in action at a client:

” I fell in love, don’t tell my wife, I have been working with Claes for a week now capturing a business process requirements at a new customer. Everyone in the company, no matter what the solution can capture detailed information on pain points, opportunities, risks and value for every step in a business process, then when done, you get a spreadsheet that you can sort on the captured data like in risk (high, Medium, Low), Opportunity (high, Medium, Low). This can be used to decide what the best opportunity is for a phased implementation. Nimbus is also ideal for providing technical implementation teams requirements.”
Another comment from one of the senior TIBCO team;

“Nimbus approach is exclusively at business level and much more superior. I recommend everyone at TIBCO sales should sit through a Nimbus discovery session at a customer site. I wish I had done a recording of discovery session at Nimbus. It was a beautiful thing to watch.”

Maybe Nimbus is the Apple of process management software, when terms like “fell in love” and “beautiful to watch” are associated with it? Certainly our clients are passionate about what it does for them. And therefore the critical part of TIBCO’s acquisition strategy for Nimbus is giving us the space to continue to do what we do. Which is exactly what they are doing.

That means the investment in R&D will continue, the exemplary support for customer will continue, and the Nimbus brand will continue.

Which is why we are so excited to be part of the TIBCO family.  Now I am getting all emotional.

Process Governance is Competitive Advantage #bpm #governance #compliance

For some industries governance is not optional such as Food and Pharma who are regulated by the FDA, or banking who are regulated by the FSA.  Arguably every US company is highly regulated due to SarBox, but the penalties for non-compliance are less painful so it is taken less seriously.  The FDA imposes punitive fines and even charities are not immune – the American Red Cross was fined $16million and in 2010 the FDA collected over $3 billion in fines.

So governance is seen as an unavoidable cost to be kept as low as possible. Lowest cost compliance.  For any company spending $millions on governance, shouldn’t they be asking “Can I get more value out of the money we are spending on governance”?

For everyone governance is a good discipline. No, it is more than that. It is Competitive Advantage when implemented elegantly and in a way that doesn’t inhibit process improvement and agility. And it is underlined by a comment from a VP at Nestle – a highly regulated, complex organisation which takes governance seriously:

Nimbus is a game changer for Nestle Sales Division, no other manufacturer is using this tool”

What are the implications for implementing process-driven governance?

  • Governance covers the entire change cycle (suggested change, review, sign-off, implementation, audit trail, acknowledgement)
  • It covers ALL process assets; end to end flows, training materials, policies documents, SOP, video, forms, automated applications, not just the automated process flows
  • MSOffice (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Visio) do not have rich enough governance and when teamed with Sharepoint become an expensive time-suck to administer, so are not fit for purpose
  • SocialBPM needs to be integrated into the governance cycle not be seen as a shortcut around process

An extreme example is UTi Pharma, a medical distribution company. UTi Pharma doesn’t make medicine but its systems, technology, a global and local web of pharma grade warehouse facilities, fleet of vehicles make sure that patients always get the original quality medicine they need, when and where they need it.  They work with all the major pharma giants and have over 150 audits per year. Yet with a process-driven approach they can still be innovative and drive process improvement. Last year they logged 495 change requests.

So it is possible to square the circle? Yes. You can combine collaborative change with effective governance, if process is at its heart.

BPM – the movie. Could be a blockbuster #bpm #film #ebook

Stage plays entertained Kings and Queens throughout the ages – and anyone else wealthy enough. Think about the film Shakespeare in Love. Playwrights were impoverished artists who did it for the love and recognition. They were the ultimate story tellers.

Then came the film, with the first public screening of a film in 1895. The early films were no more than capturing onto celluloid a stage play originally with sub-titles. Roll the clock forward to 1927 and film The Jazz Singer. Suddenly films became very different from a stage play. They were set in real locations, with multiple cameras taking different perspectives. They cleverness of the words, the emotion of the storyline and the imagery were replaced with so-so dialogue and fantastic sets.Jump forward to today and a film is interactive. Don’t like the ending? Choose another. Take a look behind the scenes. See how it was made and what the Director decided was suitable only for the cutting room floor.

Wikipedia: History of Film

Books (and magazines) are going through their own evolution. The first major breakthrough was the printing press coupled with and increasing literacy. Books are now making their way into the 21st century. Currently most eBooks are simple electronic copies of paper books with a little reformatting to make them readable on the wide range of ebook readers. The ePub standard has potential, but limited take up, to allow books to be interactive but there is still the DRM (Digital Rights Management) hurdle to get over. The publishing industry hasn’t learnt from the music industry that DRM ultimately fails because it becomes too unwieldy and discourages wide spread take up.  But I digress. eBooks have still some way to go, and possibly they should look at the magazine industry.

Magazines in many ways are more advanced. Perhaps because many quickly went online to save costs, increase distribution and get wider advertising coverage. Computer Weekly which started in 1966 this week stopped its print edition. Advertising in the print copy had dwindled and this of course is why magazines exist. Surprisingly, subscriptions of some print glossy magazines is on the increase in parallel with the take up of the online access.

There are some great examples of some really interactive magazines and these have been spawned by the iPad.  Magazines designed to run as iPad applications. Examples are Evo , the fantastic car magazine (yes I am a petrolhead) and companies like Zinio are offering a platform to help magazine publishers up their game. This means combining different media – text, video, audio – with popups and rollovers to give further information. Making reading exploration nd fun rather than linear.

If we take a look inside a corporate and the way employees consume information, particularly how they do their job (processes) we are virtually back to the world of playwrights and storytelling. And the script is pretty sketchy with continuity issues in “film industry speak”; continuity is the consistency of the characteristics of persons, plot, objects, places and events seen by the reader or viewer over some period of time.

In some companies we have seen processes and the supporting information (documents, applications, metrics) move to the early days of film. Process, Quality or compliance documentation is simply an electronic representation of the paper based equivalent. Now it gathers dust on a hard disk somewhere rather than on the shelves.

However in the most process mature companies, such as Carphone Warehouse / Best Buy Europe, they have caught up with the best that film and magazines can offer. An interactive view of a process, tailored for the individual, with links to other media. The ability to collaborate or interact. And they can view it when or where they want to – on-line or off-line on a variety of devices.

This has not gone un-noticed. Gartner has just awarded Carphone Warehouse / Best Buy Europe their coveted “Best use of BPM Technology” award which will be presented at the end of April at their BPM Summit  – the Oscars of BPM.

Everything is in place to make BPM a blockbuster.

  • Technology platform – web, tablets and smartphones.
  • Demand – cutting costs, improving staff effectivenss, supporting compliance
  • Audience – over 240 million employees in companies with greater than 500 staff around the world

We even have a storyline that has twists and turns, plenty of politics, moments of exhilaration and complete dispair, and can appeal to the young and old no matter what level of seniority:

Making work easier faster and more valuable for millions of people.

Will it be a happy ending? For many the story is still unfolding.

The Stealth Cloud has crashed #cloud #cio

At some point the cloud services will be as reliable at the electricity into our homes and offices. But I remember as a child in the UK in the winter expecting to have power cuts.  We took candles and matches or flashlights to bed. Wood was stockpiled to burn to heat the house.  Now, that is unheard of.  Ironically, as I write this the local electricity company Pacific Gas and electric (PG&E) have cut the power for planned maintenance work from 9:30am to 5:30pm. No electricity means no fridge, cooker, internet, telephone, music.  Luckily my laptop is fully charged and my smartphone has a signal. But I can always fall back to the trusty pen and paper.

So it was interesting today to read that Amazon’s EC2 cloud crashed overnight.  Twitter this morning was a blaze with “disruption to FourSquare “ For me it was a welcome relief not to have postings to tell me “Peter James has just gone into Victoria’s Secret in Las Vegas” or “Robert has checked into Marriott, London”.

But there are number of applications that run on the Amazon Cloud, probably snuck in without the knowledge, support or blessing of the CIO or IT Department, and have become core applications inside corporations. These I have been calling The Stealth Cloud.

If the CIO has no knowledge of these apps, there is no backup or contingency plan. No work around. So how do corporations assess the risk or impact of an outage? Will it simply mean that an internal department is less productive, or will it hit your customers? Does that cloud app have customer data, support cases, order data or financial information? When it comes back on line what are the processes for re-entering the backlog of data you’ve amassed manually whilst it wasn’t available.

Suddenly (possibly) the business can now understand the value of all those boring, laborious activities which IT does behind the scenes. The vendor assessments. The contingency planning. The backup, DR and restore processes. The things you don’t miss until they’re gone.

Like electricity.

To see a list of some of the apps that suffered read the blog Amazon’s Cloud Crashed Overnight, And Brought Several Companies That Rely On It Down Too

SocialBPM – the faster we go, the further we go in different directions? #social #bpm #socialbpm

Social + BPM seems like a winning combination. Technology is enabling collaboration to improve processes and get the job done spanning geographical, time and inter-company barriers. Think of it as a form of crowd sourcing. Engaging customers, companies and suppliers  – the entire end to end process – to deliver better results.

Nirvana (innovation and empowerment) or a potential train wreck (chaos, compliance failure)?

I have been encouraging business users to take control of the definition of their own processes, rather than abdicating it to Business Analysts or IT Analysts as they have for years. 14 to be precise, which is how long ago I founded Nimbus. Nimbus Control is easy enough to be used by end users, not business analysts or process professionals. There is clear evidence in client after client that we have achieved that.

But, Phil Gilbert from IBM has gone so far as to claim that IBM Blueworks is so easy that everyone should just “start mapping”. To me that sounds like a recipe for disaster. Everyone creating islands of process. Disconnected. Uncoordinated.

But a Business Process Competency Center (BPCC), as Gartner advocates or Centre of Excellence (CoE) is a way of putting some structure around the mapping work. Again Phil Gilbert has something to say here. “Kill the Center of Excellence“.

The new level of interest in BPM offers an opportunity to harness the passion and energy of the entire organisation. True crowdsourcing. But crowds need leadership, guidance and direction. Hence the critical importance of a BPCC or CoE.

We should look to other successful crowd sourcing activities for guidance. Probably the best known is Wikipedia.  Wikipedia is not a free for all.  The founders of Wikipedia set some structure, guidelines and rules. After that they let people fill out the structure. They delegated ownership, yet kept overall control.

Both these principles Nimbus Control supports.   But remember with Wikipedia there is no requirement for different Wikipedia entries to gel or fit together. No need to satisfy regulators or auditors. For processes to really improve business performance as a whole, they work they need to work end to end, spanning departments or even companies seamlessly.

So, whilst I applaud Phil Gilbert for raising the profile and discussion around end user driven process management I cannot agree with him on his approach.

If I did that, we’d both be wrong.

Supercharged research on SocialBPM from Gartner #gartner #social #bpm

SocialBPM has emerged rapidly and inevitably the BPM software vendors have been quick put their marketing spin on their product. This is an unformed and uninformed space. But Elise Olding and Carol Rozwell at Gartner have clearly been thinking long  and hard about what SocialBPM means.

So firstly their definition of Social BPM:

“Social BPM” is a concept that describes collaboratively designed and iterated processes. The term is synonymous with “socially enabled processes.” These processes mirror the way that work is performed from a “doer” perspective and experienced from a “receiver” perspective to harness the power of continuous learning from “the collective.”

Social BPM resides at the intersection of process and collaborative activity. It is supported by BPM and social software that makes process design more visible and holistic. It supports moreeffective process execution through the use of social software tools that augment human actions to better mirror the way work is performed, while also providing visibility to this work. This includes the ability to support all process activities — such as collaboration, social networking, collective activities and communications — that are a natural part of “work” to create a holistic process design that is open to influence and change from a variety of perspectives (for example, from customers, partners, suppliers, employees and the collective). As such, social BPM moves BPM closer to “design by doing.

In short: 2 distinct perspectives: Collaboration to improve a business process or to get a job done

Elise’s recent research note Social BPM: Getting to Doing is the first paper I have read for a while which starts to cut through the hype and suggests practical actions. Sadly this research is only available to those us who are Gartner clients.  But the key findings and recommendations are:

Key Findings
  • Social BPM enhances the tenets of BPM — visibility, accountability and adaptability.
  • Organizational change is a necessary focus for implementing social BPM.
  • The amount of social data can be overwhelming. It should be distilled into insights that can drive business performance.
  • Don’t limit social BPM application to only customer-facing processes — many processes can benefit from a broader, more interactive participation.
  • Strive to redesign processes, rather than “bolting on” social capabilities. It will result in a better process design that enables seamless usage by the participants.
  • Learn about social software by hands-on usage of available tools in order to understand the various capabilities.

So what does this all mean? Firstly is it not about technology, but it is technology enabled. People had friends and had conversations before Facebook. Now those friendships and conversations can be synchronous or aysnchronous, hence span timezones and geography. The same is true for BPM.  Collaboration to improve a business process or to get a job done –  the 2 perspectives of Social BPM – has always happened.  Now there can be less friction, more people can be involved, and better decisions can be made. But there’s the rub.  Unless you have a solid process context or backdrop to have those conversations you will not exploit Social BPM.  So for many companies, getting the basics in place – consistent, shared, understood end to end processes – is the starting point. Social BPM is not a short cut.

As Elise says: “SocialBPM supercharges BPM”.  There is a reason why Driving Schools have small engined cars, not supercharged Dodge Vipers.  People can get hurt.


Hi Ian

Not sure if you were aware of this conference?

Also I will be hosting a drinks event at the Hotel Vitale (opposite the ferry building) on May 10th (5:30pm -9pm). I will be sending save the dates but hope you can make this!

Kind regards
Melissa Harkcom

Director, US Business Development

Direct:  +1 415 728 9815

Mobile: +1 415 867 6245

From: British American Business Council Los Angeles []
Sent: 09 March 2011 15:55
To: British American Business Council Los Angeles
Subject: BABC Conference 2011: The Impact of Innovation


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Now where to hide in a world of data transparency #compliance #data

The release of hundreds of US diplomatic cables through Wikileaks has profound implications for the way that individuals and businesses must think about their data and online personas. Columnist Ian Gotts looks at the social and practical implications of the new era of transparency.

If you had been marooned on a desert island for the last 3-4 years and returned to civilization today you would be staggered by what has happened to the world you once knew.

Suddenly the information at people’s fingertips has exploded and with it changes to the way the world thinks, lives and works.

These changes are permanent and are so significant that they are profoundly affecting the way that individuals and businesses interact. The actions of our political and business leaders can be scrutinized as never before.

Welcome to a new world of transparency

The most striking example of how this new world works is Wikileaks. The high profile release late last year of hundreds of confidential diplomatic cables from US embassies worldwide, hit at the pillars of US foreign policy and diplomacy.

In the wake of the release, several American politicians labelled Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a “terrorist”, and the former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin called for Assange to be “hunted down” like al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.  Several companies, including Amazon (upon whose servers the site was hosted) and Mastercard cut ties with the site and found themselves under attack.

There are clearly many questions and profound implications – many of which are still to emerge – from the Wikileaks affairs.  The overriding lesson for me is that the distinction between public and private information, already being eroded by the rise of social networks, effectively no longer exists. Even the private – and confidential – musings of individual employees can be published in full for all the world to read from the comfort of their living rooms.

As individuals and businesses we better get used to this idea. Actions and comments that we share in what we consider to be a private context may now be shared against our wishes with the entire world.

Even censorship by hacking (as the high profile cyber wars in the wake of Wikileaks demonstrated) doesn’t work and traditional media laws are struggling to catch up to a media that operates across international boundaries.

What are the implications for businesses?

We’ve always known that information is power. But, maybe those who are in power or positions of influence never realised exactly how much until now.

A recent ebay mobile advertisements sums it up. The advertisement shows how you can find out the best price for a product anywhere in the world in an instant. Gone are days where retailers could set prices in their own bubble. Suddenly they are pricing based on a global market.

It’s also exposed businesses and well-known personalities, including business leaders, politicians and celebrities to the views of the man in the street. And in many ways it has shown them to be far more naive and vain than the man in the street who at least has the common sense not to tweet what should clearly should stay un-said.

Ill-advised tweets have landed celebs and politicians in court or have lost them their jobs.

Whether businesses like it or not, the culture of transparency is reshaping the way that we’re interacting with our personal networks.

It’s also creating a new obstacle course for personal reputations. If you wouldn’t tell your best friend, work colleague or your Mum, why would you plaster it all over the internet?

Millions, no make that 100’s of millions of people are doing that on Facebook every day. And if you’re not posting things yourself, you can rest assured that somebody, somewhere is about to tag you in a photograph doing something embarrassing and post it for everyone you’ve ever befriended to peruse at their leisure.

All those thoughts, videos and photographs WILL come back to haunt you when you want to get a job or next time you run for President.  I explored this in more detail in a blog called With the internet our past is now written in pen not pencil.

Generation Y has already started evolving rules and etiquette about what is acceptable.  There are parties, for instance, where there are explicit “No posting photos to FB” rules.

But for us Boomers there is a disturbing trend. I see more and more of my friends ‘getting Facebook’ and piling in. An inevitable slew of Friend Requests follows as they discover long lost mates or current contacts on Facebook.

The problem is that all these boomers have not grown up with Facebook.

When I was young, wild and reckless (yes – even more than now) PCs, smartphones, the internet, Facebook and social networking didn’t exist.  We had to make do with beer and conversations – which seemed to be enough!!. As a result, we haven’t grown up around the latest social networking, chatting, tweeting, and “broadcast my location” technologies and understand implicitly how they “work” and how to behave on them.

Aside from the just technical nous needed for control over things like privacy settings, there’s a huge minefield to navigate around acceptable behaviour. What’s the best way of handling Friend Request? Who is a ‘friend’? Is it a business colleague, a mate from school or friend of a friend? Is unfriending or ignoring a request rude?

For a great explanation of perils of FB friends here is a very funny video from Some Grey Bloke. How much do you read into a posting – a drunken post, sarcasm, or genuine love?  My 42 year old divorced sister-in-law recently announced she was proposed to by her new boyfriend on FB. She announced it and we all laughed assuming it was a joke. We laughed; she didn’t. And back to posting photos. We never had “No FB photo parties” and it is easy to scan paper photos and post them in FB.

So now we have got to the nub of the problem.  My ‘Friends’ have started to post photos from my past and they are now committed to the internet for ever.

Is this progress?

In some ways.

The technological developments are amazing. I can take my smartphone, open a calendar entry and click on the address of my appointment. Google Maps opens which because of location services knows where I am and then calculates the best route and time to get to the address. And when I get close it pops up a picture of the building so I can confirm exactly where I am going.

But, as the old saying goes, information is not knowledge and we may have more data, information and transparency than ever before…but do we know what do to with it?

My favourite book is In praise of Slow by Carl Honore. It encourages us to take time over the important things. There is so much beauty around us. So much to reflect on and question. So many conversations to be had.

So I am off to a secluded island to with a pile of unread books and maybe the energy to write another of my own.  Don’t expect to be able to contact me. There is no phone signal. It has stunning beaches and the most spectacular sunsets.  How did I find it?

We are an SMB business. BPM is an expensive unnecessary overhead. #bpm #iso27001

An interesting question on the eBizQ website this morning got me thinking.

“If BPM is so necessary, how come so many 100 to 300 people organizations do fine without it?”

There is a process maturity curve which starts at the bottom end with low process (BPM) maturity which is a stage called Heroics.

Many of you work in companies like this. Staff heroics day in day out make up for poorly defined processes.  Inefficient, but it gets the job done.  But at what cost?  Financial: Wasted time and cost  Reputation: Client errors & security Emotional: Staff morale & burnout

The question said these companies are “fine”.  They are, but only by the definition of FINE from the last Italian Job film.

F= f*cked up
I= Insecure
N= Neuroitic
E= Emotional

The challenge is making clearly defined and govenered processes easy enough to achieve and maintain for SMB organisations. That requires Board level commitment, and funding, to first get the processes defined and then funding a FULL TIME Business Excellence / Quality /Compliance role to support the continuous improvement.

This requires a leap of faith by SMBs, but the results are worth it. Whilst you can calculate the costs of documenting your processes, or even in the marketing effort to get  them used and adopted by end users, sometimes it is tremendously hard to calculate the benefits – as my blog Harry Potter and the Leap of Faith suggested. But the results can be measured in efficiency, ability to grow, to punch above your weight, and the human cost of all those heroics.

Let’s put this is real terms.  Nimbus is an SMB and needed to get ISO27001 to give our global clients confidence of our Nimbus BPM Cloud service. Because we have implemented BPM (Nimbus Control + we have saved huge amounts just in the ISO27001 audit process.  But Security comes free with a well run business as we have discovered.

But to finish on a quote from the auditors:

“It should be noted that in our extensive experience with a range of client ISO Gap Analysis projects, of those at a similar stage of ISMS development, Nimbus have demonstrated one of the highest levels of compliance we have seen.”

That is why BPM is important to an SMB.  You need it to play on the global stage, and Nimbus does not intend to stay an SMB for much longer.

Why the iPad is becoming a hit for business #iPad #BPM #cloud

Here is a story from this morning’s meeting at a client who is considering using Nimbus Control for process mapping , management and global deployment.  The client has over 250,000 employees and the meeting was with the SVP Operations who reports to the CEO, plus their team.  So a pretty important meeting.

Last week one of the Nimbus consultants had run a 1/2 day facilitated workshop with the team to map out some client process content which were on the Nimbus Cloud.

Back to today’s meeting. The client laptop that had web connectivity to be able to see Nimbus content needed to be restarted, so while everyone fiddled with that, I took my iPad over to the SVP and he and I navigated their hosted content on Safari.  He saw a great-resolution map, actions, drill downs, attachments, compliance links and we opened a linked pdf.  if we hadn’t got connected I could have used the Nimbus Mobile Player for iPad/iPhone. It was a great moment.

Point 1.  An SVP executive is interested enough in BPM to attend the meeting for 2 hours

Point 2. Deployment of governed process content is becoming a critical issue

Point 3. The iPad is a great device for deploying ‘content’ in an engaging format

So we may have sold the client on using Nimbus Control, but definitely on using the iPad.  Shame I didn’t get a chance to demonstrate the Nimbus 5 pencil iPad stand or my free non-tangle headphone gizmo!!