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What constitutes a social BPMS

23 Jun

On one the groups on LinkedIn, a few months ago there was an interesting discussion  – “Merely integrating an application built upon a BPM platform with social media/networking sites like Facebook/Twitter does not make it Social BPM. So what does constitute Social BPM?” The question was really about BPM Suites (BPMS) rather than the discipline of BPM. The consensus seemed to be that this is really a marketing buzzword that vendors have come up with and that the concept is still evolving. Integration with Facebook/Twitter may be relevant in specific use cases. A lot of BPMS implementations are internal facing and integration with these sites may yield no value at all.

So what is social BPM(S)? At its core “social” means collaboration and communication. It can mean collaboration and communication that occurs during normal course of business i.e. when a business process is in flight. This is interaction (such as email, phone conversations etc.) between users that usually happens outside the context of a typical (non-social?) BPMS. The ability to collaborate with others in the organization is a definite plus for all internal users. Take a simple use case for example. Person A needs to work on a task but needs input from person B. Person A can send an email to B or call B on phone. Sometimes, A may not know who the right person B is and may email an entire group, department or organization to figure it out. However, this interaction is now outside the BPMS. Features like micro-blogging and social networking  within an organization can help to capture this interaction.  Perhaps some of these interactions can even be used as trigger points for activity in the system. As I mentioned in Facebook for the enterprise,  BPMS vendors like Appian are starting to add such functionality to their products. It is only a matter of time until others follow suite.