Mobile, Social, Cloud and Big Data, the most important differentiators of today’s enterprise strategy are pushing the decisions makers to re-engineer their processes, operations and technology stack on the whole. These game changing variables have become synonymous with survival in today’s highly competitive environment and all that follows next.

Opening up the floodgates of mobility to enterprise BPM implementations, presents a sea of possibilities of what can be accomplished in the current BPM initiatives. Presence of mobile devices in the enterprise wide system has an effect of having eyes and ears down to the end users that could enable quick feedbacks and reduced or simplified processes. A reflex action to early warnings in time sensitive scenarios could be a strategic KPI for any BPM implementation. Making the processes go mobile elevates the BPM initiative efforts up a few notches.

Impact on process mapping

Just by the very nature of being mobile, on the field and into the thick of things, a treasure trove of inputs, based on geo location and internet connectivity is unlocked for use.  These newer category of inputs can be considered as new trigger types that may impact process flow in various ways. They may cause changes in placement of decision gateways, introduction of new events in processes, early task termination and a whole new perspective on the process map.

Impact on implementation

Most BPM vendors support simple mobile functionality of receiving tasks and notifications via emails and SMS notifications. In BPM suites with in- built mobile capability (Appian, Pega), there is no need to develop separate mobile apps outside of the BPM framework. BPM suites that do not support such capability (IBM BPM) can make do with extensive REST/JSON APIs that come bundled with the product. It is important for the mobile BPM solution to integrate with the rest of the system and not create another  IT silo. Selection of a mobile ready BPM suite would go a long way towards a successful BPM implementation.

Impact on analytics

The real time data harvested by introduction of mobile devices into the enterprise system should ideally flow seamlessly into the back-end systems. Most BPM suites provide adapters to standard RDBMS like DB2, Oracle, SQL Server etc. Here arises the clash of structured data with unstructured data. Data from mobile devices tends to be unstructured, free form. It is admittedly difficult to carry out analytics on free form data. This data will have to be routed away from the enterprise database and subject to
non RDBMS analytics or transformed to squeeze into the RDBMS systems to conform to the structured storage for process analytics.

As the line between laptops and tablets blur and people conduct more business on mobile devices than laptops, the evolving BPM suites are poised on a threshold of a big change. The enterprise BPM strategy would need to take weigh in the value addition mobility brings in. Not all organizational processes may qualify to be exposed to the mobile wave. Nevertheless, the mobile potential of every process is worth an examination, until mobile becomes the norm and is not a separate swim lane in the process map.

(Author: Shweta Katre, Director Operations & Training, NiyamIT, Inc.)