Nick Malik of Microsoft wrote a couple of nice posts about my speech at BPM 2010 earlier this week (small excerpt here). Nick's second post was a really thoughtful recasting of some of my talk (much more succinctly stated than me! but that's not unusual as anyone who knows me will tell you). There was then a comment by "Jacob E" which was also good. This post is addressed to those pieces.
Hi Nick... thanks for airing all these issues and I appreciate the attention you're giving this topic. The Democratization of BPM is a particularly passionate theme of mine (one of these days I'll walk you throughThe Governance Game, wherein I get the audience to match the historical leader with the technology era they most represent. It's always fun to talk about ERP's "five year plans"...
But I digress.
Jacob, I also appreciate the position you are in and it sounds like you're doing the client well with your actions and advice. But let me give you some insight into the end game I have in mind: there is no "Center of Excellence".
As Nick pointed out in his post, I advocated the "cloud" as a key to the future. But understand, it isn't a key because of the technology. It is key because of the business model it enables; a business model that Nick absolutely nails as part and parcel to solving this problem.
You have to have this business model to get to the business people we need... and because this business model requires the technology of the cloud, we have the opportunity to change something else, too: we can reach everyone, without translation.
When Lombardi invented Blueprint, we weren't out to build a "modeler" per se, and we weren't out to "use the cloud". We set out to understand "what happens in the 6 months before we receive an RFP for our BPMS?". It turns out that most process projects are chartered by the business for the business before IT even gets involved. For example: for you to be on-site gathering those requirements, there was work done by the business to get your PO issued even before IT got involved. There are many reasons for this - but for whatever reason, the business has no desire to engage IT that early in the process (and the reverse is true: IT doesn't have the bandwidth to get involved at that stage because 80% of the initiatives never even get funding). We found out that in the very early stages of project definition business people begin to model their processes using the #1 modeler on Planet Earth: PowerPoint! We wanted that business (sorry, Nick... although I'm not sure we've got PowerPoint on the ropes yet!)
So in order to "reach back in time 6 months," we had to find a way to get to business people with absolutely zero touch with IT required. And by the way, one thing that meant was "no downloading of any software!" Because guess what, downloading even free programs requires IT involvement at most large organizations (which is why even something like Flash was a non-starter... what if your software requires a version of Flash that isn't on the user's machine? They have to go to IT...).
All of this is to say that in order to deliver the tooling required to touch business people directly, with zero IT involvement, you have to be talking cloud. And then once you are on the cloud, the technologies of Social are, in essence, free. I think if Social is your value prop you will lose inside the enterprise. People have no time for abstract notions of "community" at work, any more than they have time for abstract notions of "process." But if the value prop is unleashed via the cloud, then Social becomes possible. And Social then can become, in essence, your Center of Excellence. This is the ultimate democratization: a Social network that enables the communication that is your Center of Excellence.
This will never happen with someone buying a "Center of Excellence in the Cloud" package. It will happen because they use a set of tooling that solves personal or small group problems... and that technology has as a secondary value prop the ability to communicate via the new Social.
Which then, finally, leads to this: my Center of Excellence isn't defined by expertise but, rather, by the velocity of communication that speeds through it. Expertise is so highly distributed and, for most interesting breakthroughs, so specialized, that the main hurdle to breakthrough isn't knowing everything, but rather, knowing where the pointer to any one thing is. A Center of Excellence should not contain experts with answers but, rather, should be a vehicle through which I can pretty easily get to any answer. It is about communication. And the faster and more robust that communication can be, the quicker the person or artifact with the answer can be identified and reached, then the better the CoE is.
In summary: In order to achieve BPM democratization, we need to dis-intermediate the experts. We can do this most easily by using The New Social. These require two things to gain entry into the organization: a new business model, and a primary value prop that allows individual productivity gains, with the Social aspects a secondary concern.
Just some thoughts early on a Saturday morning. Nick, again, thanks for the mention and wonderful job moving the thinking forward. By the way... we may be closer than you think on some of this stuff :-)