By Holly Parker
This post is about how you, as a business leader, actually create an organization with the cultural and operational transparency to win at business transformation, and uncover innovative business opportunities.
First we’ll look at transparency as the fundamental requirement of transformation.
By this we mean the transparency which comes with complete (or as close to complete) information as possible. You are transparent when you as a leader have the right information, at the right level of detail, and can see how all the moving parts of your operational model fit together. It’s about relationships, and a Big Picture view of your organization. This is crucial because it shows how you create value now, as well as holding the keys to the innovative ways you will create value in the future – by identifying business opportunities. Without transparency you won’t be able to see opportunity.
That’s where BPM comes in.
Transparency is at the very heart of BPM.
BPM is a tool, technique, methodology and management discipline all in one. It is the glue which holds an operational model together. It is the language of business. It takes your business’ processes and systems and simplifies them. In Einstein’s words –
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
BPM enables a whole operational system to be modeled, from Value Chains and Enterprise Architecture, down to the minutiae of individual processes. People, process, and technology integrated into one, transparent model.
Most people are familiar with classic BPM – making a blueprint for your organization, a plan to get to a destination. If you imagine your organization is a train…BPM builds the tracks for you to get to the next station. If you are always going to the same destination, it makes sense to get there as efficiently as possible. Improving the way to get to the next station with BPM means you get there faster and better, but it is the same destination all the same.
And getting to the same destination is exactly what business transformation is not about. With constant change the norm, and the future uncertain but bursting with opportunities, business leaders can leverage BPM not only to build tracks but also as their business transformation navigation app. Combining all available options like Uber, public transport and even walking to get to the desired destination the fastest – the result is leaders and businesses who are responsive, and able to identify and get their teams to novel destinations, and react and take advantage of business opportunities along the way. BPM is leadership’s dynamic assistant.
Where in the train/destination example, the starting point was an idea/opportunity, with BPM the tool to get to the destination, in the second, BPM (Uber, …) becomes a source of opportunity, capable of revealing further possibilities as the organization moves towards it’s next destination (like a hot tip for a great restaurant recommendation or unique local activity recommendation from an Uber driver in an unknown city). For business, BPM and the transparency inherent becomes a way of identifying and driving business opportunities for completely new, innovative sources of differentiation in operational models. You use the transparency you gain from BPM to identify and capitalize on new opportunities.
Take Amazon. Or more specifically, Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS provides online services to other websites or client-side applications.
Here’s the story. AWS grew out of Amazon’s need to grow its own technology infrastructure for running its own online retail operations. BUT – while the technological capacity needed was high around Christmas/the holidays, the rest of the year there was significant slack in the system, just sitting around doing nothin’. They’d invested a lot in making a stable, fast, reliable infrastructure for their own business, and it was darn good. What to do? Turn that slack into a revenue driver.
We won’t go into the details of how Amazon created AWS, because that is not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this example is to show that there are opportunities existing within your organization’s operational model, the same as Amazon. AWS is a direct result of Amazon’s ability to see that specific parts of their operating model could be leveraged in an innovative way as a separate service or product from their core business, driving profit and growth. AWS is an $8 billion business, a direct result of seeing the nugget of opportunity for new revenue streams in their existing model. This is business transformation.
So what does BPM have to do with business opportunity creation? It isn’t BPM in and of itself, it is the transparency BPM enables. Creating that transparency is what BPM does. And once you know where the business opportunities are, BPM is there to get your organization to its new destination.
APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) have been around since the beginning of computing, but are now a business strategy driver rather than a development technique. Whereas in the past APIs had been used to extend the capabilities of an existing product or service, they are now often the product themselves.
So what does that have to do with business opportunity creation and BPM? The API Economy is all about identifying opportunities for innovation and revenue creation, taking a whisper of an idea, or a high performing piece of an existing operational model and spinning it out into something else – possibly something completely new. It is exciting, and offers the kind of differentiation and diversification (urgently required) business leaders dream of. The one prerequisite of this is having a clear view of your existing operational model (transparency).
The ‘one weird trick’ for finding the business opportunities latent in your existing operational model? Greater transparency. How to get transparency? BPM.
You could look at the future as business leaders steering their organizations though increasingly murky and turbulent waters, or flip it around and create an operational model and culture laser focused on identifying and responding to the business opportunities already inherent in existing business models. To create the opportunities needed for business transformation, leaders must cultivate a culture and operational model founded on transparency. With innovation and opportunity creation only becoming more crucial, BPM is the key to becoming the dynamic and agile business of the future.
Signavio is a BPM software provider offering innovative solutions for businesses on their business transformation journey. Try Signavio’s intuitive BPM solution, the Signavio Process Editor out free for 30 days!