Broken Social Scene – Social BPM and Social CRM

Just like when Homer designed a new car for his brother that included shag carpeting, three horns and bubble domes, BPM and CRM applications are in danger of trying to become all things to all men.

Social is the latest in the long list of capabilities being added to both BPM and CRM applications, on top of features like mobile, content management and analytics.  Where the extension of BPM and CRM tools to embrace mobile and analytics capabilities seem to be a natural extension of the suites capability social seems like an uneasy fit. This difficulty is partly due to difference between the applications themselves and is in part down to a lack of understanding about what social really is.

At their most basic level BPM and CRM applications are used by businesses to organize, streamline and deliver process efficiency. Social networks however are a bit of a wild west. An unpredictable, fluid, disconnected environment of conversations completely at odds with the structured processes within organisations that are necessary to complete for example purchase orders, carry out invoicing,  manage payroll or handle claims. In this context social may have a better fit with the management of unpredictable processes using Case Management than BPM or CRM.

Social networks take conversations to a hyper level. Conversations are not about broadcasting marketing messages via social media channels nor are they about scanning or listening to social media networks for your company name.  Conversations involve participants both talking and listening, not broadcasting and monitoring.

Leading CRM vendors have been adding social media monitoring tools, social network analysis and customer communities to their CRM suites. With this addition of social capability to the CRM stack organisations have turned on the social tap but can they manage the increased flow that this brings? In fact there’s an argument that key customer relationships could actually be damaged by the increased noise.

BPM vendors have also been quick to jump on the social bandwagon seeing a social play from the point of view of collaborative process design and the merger of social activity streams with  process events and tasks. The value of both these social use cases remain unproven. Can I not already carry out collaborative process design using a unified communications tool like Microsoft Lync? Do I really need access to Twitter and Facebook to carry out process design?

Instead of Social CRM or Social BPM maybe we should be calling this Multi-Channel CRM or Multi-Channel BPM.

Social is about conversations. To date CRM and BPM applications are listening and broadcasting via social channels but they aren’t engaging.


7 thoughts on “Broken Social Scene – Social BPM and Social CRM

  1. When product development is driven by marketing departments, you end up with questionable features and functions.

    Users want to be able to communicate with each other in ACM, BPM and CRM, It’s part of decision making in a case or decision making regarding progress toward goals/objectives along a process instance –

    BUT, for any application such as healthcare or military equipment inspection where data needs to remain confidential and where documenting who, what, where and when is important, open social networks, including e-mail systems are not appropriate because it is next to impossible to impose need-to-know rules regarding access to case / customer records.

    Two examples:
    1) in healthcare, toward change of day shift, if I have a question, I send out a query to a peer or domain expert and then go off shift, if the response to my question were to come back to me, we could see a 16-hour delay in rendering services to a patient – if, on the other hand, messaging INTERNAL to the BPM takes place the response will come back to the process step (the point of service the inquiry originated from) AND night shift staff will see it AND take action

    2) in the inspection of military equipment, it is sometimes necessary for a manufacturer to track progress by an inspector in the field. Any errors in completing an inspection certificate could mean that a return visit to that plant will be needed at a cost that could be $5,000 or more. We would reasonably want both any queries and their responses to go into the audit log.

    Instance/task specific multi-channel communication is indeed needed but it has to be done right instead of piggybacking on open services like FaceBook, Twitter etc. Open social networks have no place in ACM/BPM/CRM workflow management environments.

    Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng.
    Managing Director
    Civerex Systems Inc.

  2. Twitter and Facebook is not Social BPM. I suggest you read Social BPM.

    Here is a blub:
    In our most recent research exploring social BPM best practices, we’ve identified three special patterns for social BPM adoption. The patterns identified thus far include:

    * Social Process Discovery – Extending process discovery and design to include interactive real-time involvement of business users, customers, and partners.

    * Shared Development – Extending process development methodology and tools to support development collaboration between business and IT roles.

    * Social Process Guidance – Provide real-time suggestions and guidance for completing a particular activity based on real-time analytics and/or social network analysis (e.g. crowdsourcing techniques).

    Of the three patterns, social process guidance represents the greatest opportunity for business process professions to drive better outcomes for customers and employees….

    Today’s for main manifestations of social BPM; collaborative process discovery, runtime collaboration, process events streams, and BPM communities…
    Social BPM is about collaborating in-context. Business and Technology being able to locate and communicate in the parts of the entire software development SDLC they desire, from requirements and modeling to implementation and business activity monitoring. Threaded discussions about the business process model and/or its linked executables, test cases, and bugs. Think automatically launched process spaces when errors occurs, displaying Business and IT views of the process model calling out the specific process instance flow, with embedded disucssions, chat, resolution links, etc. Business and IT on the glass, collaborating socially across the entire SOA/BPM SDLC.

    Social BPM is not Twitter or Facebook. It’s utilizing the underlying social functionality, expanding on it, and builing into the context of IT/Business collaboration negotiating requirements, modeling the solution, and monitoring its Production execution, collaborating in real-time and in-context to diagnose and resolve issues.

  3. Hi Greg, thanks for the reply. As I said in my post social is about taking conversations to a hyper level. This is different from the narrower focused business collaboration you describe above. I can already do the collaboration you describe as well a the guidance by integrating my BPM suite to a unified communications platform such as Lync.

  4. Microsoft Lync doesn’t include subscribing to process events, being alerted when the requirements, implementation, or test cases change, or processes instance violate SLA’s or err out; and doesn’t work the knowledge learned back into process guidance presented in-context where needed to diagnose issues and restart automation. Hooking a real-time collaboration platform onto a BPM Suite does not result in an user customizable subscriber-based, integrated,automated, social BPM system.

    • Hi Greg, I don’t think I said that Lync includes alerts, process events or notification when SLAs have been breached. That’s the role of the BPM or case management platform. What I did say was that Lync or other UC platforms could deliver collaboration and guidance.

      Collaboration in context should not be called Social BPM as I can do this already with unified communications platforms and we don’t regard unified communications platforms as social media.

  5. Pingback: Do we now have a Legal Definition for Social Networking? | The Computer Says How?

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