Tag Archives: q&a

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.

Continue reading

“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”.

Continue reading

OIC speaker interview 5: Roy Illsley, Principal Analyst, Software – IT Solutions, Ovum

In the latest of our Ovum Industry Congress Q&As, Roy Illsley, Principal Analyst, Software – IT Solutions, Ovum, discusses DevOps, software-defined networking, automation and how these game-changers are impacting CIOs.

Roy-Illsley-112x1352014 for most organizations is a pivotal year, most of the world is emerging from the deepest recession in living memory, and when this is combined with the advances in technology the impact on the pace of change will be dramatic. The two-day event has a wide range of topics covered, but for me it is the role of DevOps and how it will lead the way with transforming the IT department. Ovum approaches DevOps from two different perspectives, both a developer and a service and operations background. Understanding how Michael Azoff sees the DevOps movement evolving will demonstrate that change is about more than just technology.

Ovum: What do you see as the coming trends in your profession/area of expertise, and how can you prepare?

Roy Illsley: From a data centre or infrastructure perspective 2014 is all about software defined, and the dichotomy of the movement towards a disaggregation of the computing infrastructure to more local compute and storage implementation to manage the data explosion, and the vendors’ development of new converged infrastructure devices. The software defined growth is the glue that will hold these two different approaches together in a single IT strategy. However, software defined is in a battle between the proprietary development and the open standards movement. CIOs must understand the desired future state for its organization in the value of IT and ensure that the correct deployment approach is used so that they can change and extract maximum efficiencies. Ovum believes this selection is the critical aspect and needs CIOs to have access to all the latest technical trends, but for these to put into a context of what they mean.

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?

Roy Illsley: For me cognitive computing is the bridging technology like the value was between mechanical computing and the digital computing era. The difference is that cognitive computing is bridging to an as yet un-known computing paradigm.  As cognitive techniques become more widespread the need for faster ways to process data will see the limitations of the digital computers become exposed. For CIOs this shift to a world where automation becomes intelligent and UIs become intuitive is leading us towards a world where technology is just a tool that most business users are happy to interact with. IT department’s role will change and the skills needed will also change as the power of cognitive automation drives more efficient IT operations, increased service levels, and reduced IT costs. But just as Jevons paradox predicts this will see greater demand for IT services.

Join us at OIC next month where Roy will be chairing the Next Generation Infrastructure and Networks track of the event. Roy is also the lead analyst at Ovum’s newly-launched Next Generation Infrastructure Forum, taking place in London in September. Find out more here.