Social BPM: What's it all about?
You’ve heard of social BPM and wondered what, if anything, it means to you as a BPM professional or business owner. You ask yourself if it’s just another buzzword to put in your pocket. You look around and see that there are already quite a few social BPM players  since Forrester’s Clay Richardson coined the term late last year. So what exactly is social BPM? According to Clay, it’s “processes developed and improved through the use of social technologies and techniques.” By social technologies, Clay is referring to the models and tools adapted by social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others.
However, not all of these social BPM key players limit themselves to Richardson’s rather technology-oriented definition. In my mind, social BPM goes beyond the use of social technologies. It’s about adapting a methodology or an approach for achieving the goal of BPM that involves extending the accessibility and visibility of a BPM project, increasing the level of awareness and participation of individuals, and leveraging ideas, talents and expertise from a broader source. In this context, social technologies are simply a means to an end. In this column, I’ll talk about how IBM’s view of social BPM is realized through its offerings.
IBM is a key player in social BPM
IBM is one of the key players in social BPM with its IBM BPM BlueWorks  and IBM BPM Blueprint  cloud offerings. These two offerings may have different philosophical and technological approaches, but the good news is that they are complementary. BPM BlueWorks is a platform for ramping up users to BPM through a wide variety of resources contributed collectively by its members and a cloud-based design tool to jumpstart the development of business processes. BPM Blueprint, on the other hand, is focused on process discovery that incorporates greater innovation during the development process by enabling users to work collaboratively together on a project.
Social BPM depends on community dynamics
It’s the community that empowers individuals to engage in social activities. This community is the foundation of BPM BlueWorks. You can think of BPM BlueWorks as a big community of BPM novices, enthusiasts and experts. On BPM BlueWorks, you’ll find a wealth of resources including articles, papers, podcats, webcasts, process maps, and more--all of which can be used to deepen your knowledge of BPM as well as enable you to get started quickly on BPM projects. Figure 1 shows the Media Library section of BPM BlueWorks, in which users can search for resources pertaining to a certain topics or industries.
Figure 1. IBM BPM BlueWorks offers a wealth of BPM resources
In the BlueWorks community, members can contribute to the pool of resources. Resources are classified by industry, so that members from the same industry can collaborate more closely. Members can share their thoughts, ideas and opinions by providing feedback about these resources, sharing recommendations, and engaging in discussions through forums and blogs. The community recognizes top contributors and most popular authors.
Social BPM is about collaborative innovation
Collaboration connotes the positive involvement of a group of individuals in the achievement of a common goal. BPM is all about the optimization of business processes. The expectation is that the amalgamation of innovative ideas from various people results in optimal solutions. BPM Blueprint offers a tool for business process discovery. With its social approach, it excels in the way that it brings together various stakeholders to work on projects more efficiently and collaboratively.
Figure 2 is a snapshot of a Blueprint user’s homepage. The News Feed enables the user to view the activities that are taking place in his company, including changes made by others to the processes and projects he is involved in. This is akin to what Facebook does today. The Blueprint News Feeds can be sorted by date, user, processes, or project. This level of information increases awareness and visibility among the users in a company. A user can also mark items that he is interested in tracking, thus keeping up to date on the progress of those items.
Figure 2. IBM BPM Blueprint's social approach enhances collaboration across people and projects
Figure 2. BPM Blueprint’s social approach enhances collaboration across people and projects
True collaboration goes a step further. BPM Blueprint enables its users to work on a given process collaboratively through concurrent editing. Users can also use the built-in chat feature to coordinate and discuss their activities. All changes made by a user are visible to others.
BPM Blueprint provides real-time collaborative innovation.
IBM will continue to advance social BPM with more innovative ideas
These offeringsg are just the first step. IBM is committed to continue to improve its social BPM solutions to make them even more relevant and useful to its customers. Expect to see more innovative ideas and features as we continue to lead the market in the adoption and definition of social BPM. For example, another idea that is generating interest in the BPM community is using social technologies as part of the processes themselves, rather than just as tools for developing the processes. Whether or not this has practical value to certain business scenarios is yet to be seen, but you can be sure that we’re looking into it!
- BPM BlueWorks: A place for business leaders and business analysts to discover, explore, and design business-relevant content to help them understand, experience and accelerate Business Process Management (BPM).
- IBM BPM Blueprint: A cloud-based tool for outlining, documenting, diagramming, analyzing, and sharing business process details.
- Social BPM Players: A list of Social BPM players.
- developerWorks BPM zone: Get the latest technical resources on IBM BPM solutions, including downloads, demos, articles, tutorials, events, webcasts, and more.