Monthly Archives: October 2014

“BPM is only a milestone in the journey of process excellence”

With Ovum’s 6th Annual Business Process Management Forum taking place in November 2014, we gathered the thoughts of Deepa Tambe, Business Process Management and Improvement Manager at Lloyd’s Register, on her experience, her hopes from the event and her thoughts on enterprise BPM.

Firstly, something that we are always interested to find out is whether BPM experts have a mantra that they would recommend BPM practitioners to recite when undertaking their projects. Deepa has, and it is an excellent one: ‘BPM is only a milestone in the journey of process excellence’.

Our thoughts move on to BPM Forum; Deepa is discussing Organising BPM at the event, believing that an organisation’s culture plays a major role in the success or failure of the BPM project. When thinking about other case studies on the day, she is particularly looking forward to hearing from Alistair Watters from B&Q, on ‘Culture eats Strategy’, as she wants to hear his view on “transformation in the retail market, as it is changing very fast”.

With many years’ experience under her belt (or should that be under her Black Belt?), and with extensive experience of implementing business process management and improvement projects within various sectors including IT, Telecom, Education, Manufacturing and Engineering, we talk about some of the challenges of her job. Straight away, the main one is “encouraging people to use any system”. In an organisation where there is a mixture of experienced (30 years plus) colleagues, and a younger generation who are more intuitive with new technology, it is challenging to keep a right balance to enthuse all people. While younger colleagues easily take in, and almost demand, technology automation and updates, it can be sometimes seen as a complexity for the senior members of staff, who are the pillars of the organisation. So what is the best way to deal with this? “The only way to manage is through communication – at all levels and types”.

Going from the actual to the conceptual, we ask Deepa what one thing she would implement tomorrow if she knew success was guaranteed. Her answer is straightforward (and in fact echoes a recent Future of Work interview with Walsall Council): “Green Power!”. Specifically in terms of the volume of chargers and power leads, which accumulate with each new gadget that is launched. “If only we could have all gadgets on solar or wireless power, it would make life so much simpler”.

Finally, and still looking to the future, we ask what Deepa sees as the coming trends in BPM, and how to prepare for this. She replies that “social media, collaboration and mobility in terms of processes, people and technology are the trends impacting ways of working. The only way to prepare for this is by listening and engaging with people”.

Wise words, for sure. You can view all of the topics to be discussed at BPM Forum on the event agenda, and you can discuss these topics and more with Jacqui, and all our speakers, by registering today (enterprise end-users can claim a complimentary pass).

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The challenge of BPM: “Do more, better, as efficiently as possible”.

Ahead of Ovum’s 6th Annual Business Process Management Forum, we gathered the thoughts of James G Smith, Head of Process & Systems Improvement, Birkbeck, University of London and Tomasz Jasinkiewicz, Account Director, Bizagi. In an insightful overview, James talks about his view of BPM in the context of the Higher Education sector, and Tomasz gives some excellent best practice advice for enterprises that are embarking on BPM projects. James and Bizagi will be delivering a joint case study at the event, entitled Achieve Operational Excellence through BPM: Accelerate administration processes and improve student services. Enterprises can claim a complimentary pass for the event, and solution providers/consultants can register here. Make sure you’re there to join the biggest hitters in the BPM industry!

Ovum: BPM Mantras – please share with us with your favourite BPM or work adage?

James Smith: There’s no such thing as an IT project!

What is your job function with regard to BPM, and what are you most looking forward to at the event?

James Smith: My role at Birkbeck entails both the day to day management of our Corporate Information Systems, and the developmental improvements to those systems, and crucially the business processes that rely on them.

At BPM Forum, I am most looking forward to hearing from professionals in other industries who are facing the same primary challenge – translating business requirements from process owning departments into executable processes – because the difficulties are usually the same, but the creative solutions are often not – which is exciting as it means we can learn from each other.

Ovum: What do you see as some of the key challenges facing higher education, and how can BPM assist in meeting these?

James Smith: The challenges are almost certainly not unique to HE! Do more, better, as efficiently as possible. This is particularly true for our support services – our students are now consumers paying significant fee for their education. We aim to make their experience with us as slick as possible, minimising the impact of non-value-add processes – both in terms of how our students experience them, and the proportion of what our students pay us that we spend on them. Streamlining our processes is critical to this effort.

Ovum: Business and IT often have completely different understanding and expectations about BPM, where do you feel this difference lies, and how do you align these?

Tomasz Jasinkiewicz: There’s often a miscommunication and distrust between the two communities that impedes alignment of strategy and execution which in turn undermines the true value of BPM.

Business stakeholders come with a lot of potentially conflicting requests from BPM – strictly enforcing procedures to increase productivity; quickly and flexibly adapting those procedures which don’t deliver; measuring and analysing the KPIs with all the data in the world – but all immediately and on a single plate. A lot of “what-ifs”, “maybes” and moving targets.

On the other hand, IT quite often sees BPM as yet another integration layer. And they want everything written in stone.

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Portugal Doesn’t Like Entrepreneurs?

In this guest blog post, Vitor Pereira gives an insight into Portugal’s attitude to entrepreneurship, in the context of Smart Cities.

Registrations for Ovum’s Smart to Future Cities 2015 event are now open. After the great success of the 2014 event, the 4th Annual edition will take place at Waldorf Hilton on 28-29 April 2015, and offers complimentary attendance to city/government representatives.

smart cities portugal

Portugal, doesn’t like entrepreneurs?

Or, at least, it seemed that way until a few years ago. A crowd of Prophets of Doom bravely resisted the innovation, the boldness, the audacity and the risk of people who owe little or nothing to the country, but, who fell in love with it; with the Portuguese, the food, the landscape, the quality of life – only God knows what triggered so many passions among investors, foreign entrepreneurs and true leaders, which could have chosen large, “more developed” cities and countries, yet still fixed roots here, in this sunny rectangle, in the extreme south of the old continent.

I met one of these extraordinary entrepreneurs a little less than a year ago, at the Smart to Future Cities conference, which took place in London. Between the famous speakers, leaders of large global companies and even the Minister of Science and Technology of England, I heard, at some point, speak of Portugal. I hastened to check the program, but I did not see any connection nor identified a familiar name. I remain focused to the presentation and took some notes. And I was not the only one that was stuck to the theme. The entire room was following the words and explanations of that middle-aged speaker, already with many white hairs.

It was a dynamic and active presentation, which talked about a city. A new city for the future, sustainable and full of technology and latest generation services, ready for the most diverse and varied experiments, the Internet of Things, including some signed by names like McLaren or Microsoft. Yes, it was a city that would have true Formula 1 technology, adapted to buildings and utilities. Like me, many of the people present almost imagined the city. We were transported to its squares, to the laboratories and the streets teeming with the best professionals in the world in the most diverse sectors of activity. Sincerely, I was appreciating the idea. In fact, knowing that it was a great global project, which would be developed in my country, in Portugal, caused me chills of excitement and it seduced me too. I started to visualize a chronicle about the theme and then I searched for more details, even during the presentation. In the meantime, the speaker had finished talking and gave space to questions of assistance. And there were many of them. Curiosity, interest and enthusiasm. Applause and wishes for success. When I tried to speak with him personally to get more details, unfortunately he had already left. But I fixed his name: Steve Lewis.

steve lewis

Crossing the desert

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“Businesses need to realize that they need to market themselves to their existing employees far more than to prospective new ones”

Ahead of Future of Work Summit, we caught up with Peter Armstrong and Len Epp, co-founders of Dashcube, Innovation Sponsor of the event. In a fascinating, in-depth discussion, they explore their perspectives on the future workplace and technology, and their experience to date.

Peter Armstrong: At Future of Work, I am most looking forward to hearing the perspectives that different people we talk with have about the future of work. At Dashcube, we have been thinking about this for a long time, and building our thinking about the future of distributed collaboration into the product. We really value conferences such as Future of Work since they give us the chance to get out of the proverbial building and do the customer development process, talking with people and learning more about their business problems and testing our assumptions about what we are doing with our technology.

I believe the Future of Work means that distributed teams are not optional, and the tools and processes which need to evolve to support them can also be applied effectively to teams which have the luxury of being in the same building. I believe the Future of Work will be fantastic, since social forces such as so-called “millennial entitlement” will mean that people won’t settle for bad tools and oppressive processes. Fundamentally, the Future of Work will be about people, and about how better to use technology to connect people and then get out of the way.

Ovum: From a learning experience viewpoint, what has been your most valuable lesson in your working career, or your most successful failure?

Peter Armstrong: My most successful failure was trying to productize the concepts in my first book, Flexible Rails, into a commercial framework. While the framework was technically strong, largely due to the efforts of my cofounder, it failed spectacularly as a commercial product. However, the experience led to the formation of my boutique consultancy, which led to the creation of Leanpub, which led to me working with my old friend Len and to meeting Chris, and to us creating Dashcube together. In terms of lessons, the main lesson it taught me was that doing public-facing things that genuinely try to improve some small subset of the world can lead to totally unexpected successes with people you have never met.

Ovum: What technology would you like to see changing the way we do business in the future?

Peter Armstrong: I would love to see the Apple Watch and its inevitable imitators eliminate the security disaster and overstuffed wallet that is the reality with modern-day credit cards. Len wants it to open doors too, but if it just fixes payments then I’ll be happy. Paying for stuff is a disaster.

Ovum: Describe your ideal working environment 10 years from now?

Len Epp: Regarding wearables, I believe the biggest change in our working environments is that we are going to be using smartwatches as our keys, not just for unlocking doors, but also for unlocking our devices and even our apps. This will have a profound impact on the way every enterprise manages security for its people, physical assets, its IP and its data.  Here’s a blog post I wrote a few weeks ago (before the Apple Watch launch) that goes into some more detail on how watches will become keys (and wallets): https://medium.com/@lenepp/why-smartwatches-should-be-keys-and-wallets-e141facb95ad

Ovum: What in your opinion will be the next big change in the way that we work and the way in which businesses engage with their employees – and specifically the way IT has to service their customers?

Peter Armstrong: Businesses need to realize that they need to market themselves to their existing employees far more than to prospective new ones.  Continue reading

Experimenting with new technology, stretching the limits of what is possible, developing solutions

Martin SadlerMartin Sadler is the Head of IT and Shared Services at Walsall Council. He has led the IT service for 7 years and delivered significant technical projects and cultural change; prior to that he worked for Fujitsu Services in the Retail and Financial services. This gives him a rare perspective of being able to look at the Future of Work through the eyes of a supplier, enterprise and public sector agency. He is a devotee of home grown solutions, open source products and anything that make life simpler or better value. We caught up with him to talk about this, about his role as a public sector IT leader and about his thoughts on the industry.

“My most valuable experience is that some people will only be happy if they have something to complain about”

Firstly, when thinking about the Future of Work Summit, Martin is “most looking forward to hearing more from people who are ahead of the work anywhere curve. I am discussing the move to mobility and smarter working in local government at Future of Work; I believe that I have experiences that others do not need to repeat”.

“My most valuable experience is that some people will only be happy if they have something to complain about. This led to the need to do changes sequentially in order to pinpoint what the real issue is”.

“Respond quickly; have integrity; explain thoroughly”

The complexity of a local council is unique in business terms, and presents a lot of challenges for an IT leader. Martin knows this as well as anyone, affirming that “[a council] has conflicting purposes and more diverse activities than any reasonable organisation would be expected to do”. To manage this challenge, he sets in place clear generic activities: “respond quickly; have integrity; explain thoroughly; with a huge degree of flexibility in how and when services are provided”.

There is currently a big drive towards smarter working within the public sector, with a need for increased efficiency in IT delivery, which, while exciting in many ways, presents a challenge in itself. As Martin puts it, “The diversity and number of legacy systems is a real impediment as is the pace of suppliers to convert their applications to be web based. This is then hampered by the price of providing a hosted solution”. And then, paraphrasing Einstein, “never underestimate the ability of groups of people to do stupid things”.

On a more positive note, we spoke about what Martin’s most rewarding project of his career has been: the Rolling out of Thin Clients across Walsall Council, which he describes as “one of the most exciting things I have achieved. The mix of experimenting with new technology, stretching the limits of what is possible and seeing the staff develop the solutions has been fantastic”.

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