Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What's Better for a Changing World?

Increasing your bet on the digital is best for dealing with a changing world. You will probably start with a mobile first mentality, but eventually you will have to get past just a new "sizzling" interface for your customers, partners and employees. This means a premium on smart dynamic agility that can be built into your processes, workers, applications, APIs and other code chunks. This is particularly true when the processes can figure out how they should configure and execute to reach a set of evolving goals. This is where swarming kicks in it's contribution to keeping your processes "eye on the ball" while dynamics occur in and around your business model. These processes will be made up of executable task that swarm to accomplish goals. See below for the type of agents that will auto align with your goals. Hybrid processes will be created just in time to attain goals and outcomes

The Opportunity to Coordinate More Resource Types: 

In the past process efforts were just content to save costs with incremental improvements with a simple set of resources mainly heads down workers and large chucks of systems. It turns out that process became good at differentiating a business and providing benefits for more types of resources such as knowledge workers and managers. This, in turn, makes processes ideal for the new kinds of resources emerging from the IoT, robotics, proliferating APIs and a big data analytic world. Be prepared for a rapid expansion of the types of resources leveraged in processes.

The Opportunity to Coordinate Many More Resources:

The explosion of resources is also happening simultaneously with the advent of the IoT, wearable devices and APIs. Add cognitive agents (COGs) in the cloud that assist all the resources in ways we never imagined and we now have an explosive situation for both innovation and management headaches. Again process takes a role in managing these resources with transparency and accountability. Even so, centralized control of a process may not be able to handle it all.

The Opportunity to Have Smart Resources Do Some of the Coordination:

Some resources will have the intelligence to manage sub-tasks and flows, dynamic or static, so that the centralized process can delegate the management of certain resources in a "black box" fashion, keeping mind that the box can change colors and take care of the central process by looking at the goals, constraints and patterns of interest. Will certain processes become 100 decentralized? We aren't ready for that just yet, but the technology makes it possible. Probable is another story.

Net; Net:

Get ready fir an increased set of resources that will need to be managed in real time to stay competitive while we transition to a more digital world. Forms of swarming will start to emerge over the upcoming years.

Additional Reading on Swarming Processes:


Monday, April 27, 2015

Swarming to Sales Closure

Closing sales at the moment of excitement is a tricky balance. People buy because they like sales person or the sales experience. Imaging sales of the future leveraging technology in the best possible way is part of becoming a thriving digital organization. Leveraging digital technology that configures itself dynamically to assist the sale is the level of swarming that is likely to emerge on the sales front. Of course in this case the buyer was motivated to get an exercise program going and was thinking that biking would be right in her sweet spot. This is one possible example of leveraging a digital assist to the sales process in retail in real time.

Evaluating the Buyer: 

One of the keys to a sale is to understand the buyer. There are now cognitive agents (COG) that can read the mood of the potential buyer as they approach a self service kiosk. In addition the kiosk could have a cognitive agent evaluating the shape of the potential buyer in terms of muscular build.  If this is a repeat customer, you may have a handle on their personality because of a personality tendency cognitive agent that the buyer had interacted with in the past. This gives the seller a better understanding of the potential buyer and will lead to a better success rate.

Matching the Goals: 

Based on the mood detection, build, personality and goals based on a quick set of questions, the kiosk could display a video of that combination persona in the kind of environment that the buyer is likely to ride in on a suggested bike with the right colors, comfort and safety equipment. If the buyer shows an interest in a particular video and product used, they can be accumulated for further evaluation.

Assisting the Close: 

The kiosk could present the selections of interest and ask questions to assist the buyer in making her decision. If the buyer wants more information, they can get that info at the kiosk or select a help option that would give them a number in a queue to talk to a professional on the floor of the store. If the buyer can select the right bike herself, you could close the sale there and have someone bring the bike to the kiosk or ship it to the buyer based on need.

Net; Net: 

This kind of evaluation can be helpful in the store or even online. I'm pretty sure I would visit the store myself as the fit would be important for me to try. I can easily imagine cognitive agents assisting me for part of the sales process. How about you?

Additional Reading on the Swarming & New Digital Models:


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Swarming to Better Customer Service

Great customer service will require a new kind of process that conjures the right experience, knowledge and behaviors that please. This means two things in my opinion. One is the customer only needs to know what they want to do and not have to understand or traverse your organizational division of labor. The other is that your organizations interface with the customer will be sensitive to the individuality of the customer. This means that there can't be a completely planned process, but there will have to be a real time configuration of resources to service the customer acting in a swarming fashion. See the following posts for more information on the division of labor and swarming


Better Customer Interface Experiences:

It matters not if your interface with the customer is over a mobile phone or through a living representative, your organizations welcome mat is the process that you aim at helping the customer. If a digital experience is the choice of your customer, the experience must be eye pleasing and pleasant. If you can engage your customer with gaming and rewards, so much the better, but bread and butter ease to service must be present. It would be great if you had a profile on your customer with preferences and even customer established rules, but most organizations are lagging here.It would also be great if your organization had a way to sense the mood and personality of the person, but that is a rare goal today.  It is important to get this piece right as most organizations are thinking that "mobile first" is the answer to better customer service. I would beg to differ, but this is important.

Better Customer Navigation Experiences:

Right now, customers are forced to navigate your organization, which is generally aimed at a specialty and you only can get one at a time. Imagine a swarming process that enables a generalist that has great people skills to have the knowledge of a billing professional and a sales representative available on demand from cognitive assists (cogs) from the cloud from internal or external knowledge. You could service and up/cross sell in one seamless conversation. Imagine having an opportunity to services a customer on any topic from one person who is knowledge enabled by these cogs.

Better Customer Feedback Mechanisms:

Today most customer satisfaction is measured by surveys designed by masochists who gain pleasure in getting all the information regardless of respect for the customers time. Imagine saving some of the answers from the last survey and allowing customers to alter the results and submit a feedback survey quickly. I think this is better than a simple opt out that most customers will take anyways.

Net; Net: 

Swarming the right history, knowledge, preferences and scripts based on the customers mood and work needed in real time is the customer service of the future. Organizations may have to take this transformation in steps, but targeting the proper service model will be crucial. Starting with real customer journeys that look at a wider picture than just your organizations roles is a great first step.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Are Swarming Processes in Your Future?

Today processes are managed by some central control point that orchestrates and coordinates resources. This has worked well when the process was simple and structured in a stable world. Today process have to deal with many more and complex resources, some with intelligence built into them. At some point in time the complexity will be too much for pure central control and will move to a bidding situation where independent and autonomous resources will swarm to bid to do portions or eventually all of the work that a process might have controlled in the past. Imagine resources that will bid to do the work you have on your plate and swarm to help you reach your outcomes.

What is Swarm Behavior?:

Swarm behavior is the collective motion of a large number of self-propelled entities.[1] From the perspective of the mathematical modeler, it is an emergent behavior arising from simple rules that are followed by individuals and does not involve much central coordination, if any. It's kind of like a school of fish as they try to protect themselves from predators while they keep themselves feed while migrating to the waters that support the proper temperature.

How Will a Swarming Process Behave?

It will sense emerging patterns and behave accordingly while still seeking the goals set for the processes and staying in bounds from a governance perspective. The processes will be made of of competitive resources bidding to do the work in real time. The key is where the control of the winning bid will be determined. It will probably start with a central notion initially and migrate to a bidding agent that will determine the best change for outcome. It will take time for all involved to gain confidence in autonomous software and devices that work in concert for the good of the goals. We see this occurring in vehicles with ABS braking systems, smart transmissions, lane departure software, auto-stop capabilities, collision detection,  and auto navigation etc. Maybe when more of these work in concert, the autonomous car might be accepted, but bits of autonomy are creeping in over time. The same will be true for processes.

Net; Net:

As the number of patterns of interest increase, as the number of  (IoT)  controllers/devices increase, as the depth of analysis and knowledge increases, as the speed to respond intensifies, as the number of goal changes increase and as the rules of competition change rapidly, the need for swarming processes also increase. The new digital world will drive us there eventually, so start to get ready. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Process & Insurance Claims: A Case Study

This organization handles claims for multiple insurance companies and must be accountable for results even when disaster strikes. There are specific SLAs that are in force and must be delivered under all circumstances by this organization for each company they serve. 

The Challenge:

For each insurance company this organization must handle commissioned appraisals, taking into account not only contractual conditions and expectations for satisfaction of those being insured but also the average time lapse for processing. Finally, during the disaster and up until its closure, the employees must be able to provide relevant answers on demand and comply with commitments for each insurance company client.

The Solution:
To achieve the desired expertise for this sphere of activity, automation and process control become paramount. This organization has decided to rely on different software components, including a BPM platform to entrust the management of workflows, an indispensable element for best management and business expertise. Over 150 processes including many variations have been automated. More than 800 employees now use the system daily.
Among the major contributions of BPM are found:
  • Real-time monitoring of the progress of activities at the individual level as well as collective, to meet the compliance expected by customers.
  • Reduction of supervision and training costs for experts and administrative staff, thanks to the support of the workflow management allocating and linking all tasks and decisions regarding each case
  • Traceability of all business activity increasing individual awareness and reducing errors.

The Results:

This organization was able to meet compliance expectations while delivering 15 - 20 percent productivity gain on claims management for loss adjusters and clerks 

Net; Net: 

Meeting SLAs while increasing productivity is a traditional benefit for BPM, but it good to see that BPM is still delivering basic benefits to many organizations that attempt BPM projects. 

This is a highly summarized and anonymous case study provided by W4

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Simulation & Emerging Processes; A Hospital Evacuation Case Study

Processes are changing from predictable and structured to emerging and adaptive. For those processes that require multiple dynamic sets of patterns and conditions are quite often helped by simulation. This changes the view of simulation from a  "design and go away" approach to an active and involved decision assist for emerging processes. This case study shows that simulation is for adaptive processes as well. Unfortunately the driver for these kinds of efforts were a number of catastrophes recently with bad weather taking center stage.

The Problem:

How do hospitals ensure that they are prepared to respond to a catastrophe like a tornado, a hurricane, a flood etc. Any combination of consequences can prove detrimental to the safety of patients such as power outages, HVAC damage, destructed roads & bridges, distances to safe hospitals and so on.

The Solution:

Emergency preparedness plans were tailored specifically for a number of hospitals considering each ones characteristics and needs. These hospitals answered the call by deploying a hospital-focused instance of simulation technology with an evacuation perspective.  This simulation technology leveraged an underlying agent-based model to simulate the behaviors of the hospital staff, evacuating patients, medical transportation, supplies, facilities and other agents to account for a wide array of variables that would likely impact an evacuation scenario. This model accounted for specific information, such as number of beds and supplies, building floors, elevators and distances to safe hospitals, staging areas and ambulance bay sizes. The designers and developers used software frameworks to build an intuitive, web-based "SimCity" like visual environment on top of the simulation model allowing executives and managers a "bird's eye" perspective of the facilities and a multitude of staffing and evacuation decisions. Then they could observe how their decisions "play out" by watching animations of people evacuating their hospital.

The Results:

The hospitals are now supporting full day seminars to their leadership teams and local emergency personnel to practice simulation plays in real-time through a carefully designed curriculum to prepare participants with the demands and pressures of an actual evacuation event. All parities will be ready to help save lives under duress instead of potentially reacting poorly.

Net; Net:

If simulation can help with emerging catastrophes, it can help process managers and participants with emerging and connected process or cases for non hospital situations.

This is a highly summarized and anonymous case study provided by Simudyne

Monday, April 13, 2015

Delivering Maximum Benefit From A Business Improvement Project Portfolio

The pain of change has to be worth it, so maximizing benefits for the whole organization across a portfolio of projects, hopefully process rich in nature, is a must. Market pressures and the need to respond to rapid change have fundamentally changed the rules of business. To compete in this environment, a large energy company invested in programs to improve performance while managing the bottom line. 

Managing Change Efforts:

Despite the significant amount of investment and effort, realizing value from these change programs is still a challenge for most organizations. Traditional project management in most companies is still focused on managing work breakdown structures to ensure on-time and under-budget delivery. Delivering programs on-time and under-budget is critical but if the business fails to adopt the proposed changes or realize the intended value, is the project truly a success? For a project to be truly successful, the change must be adopted and embraced by the organization and business benefits must be realized quickly. This puts new emphasis on change management and value realization.

The Company's Challenge:

This energy company traditionally executed initiatives with a heavy focus on time and budget tracking by leveraging an industry-leading PPM platform. In parallel, the change management team managed organizational change through a series of spreadsheets and presentations. Being able to continually assess the ‘health’ of the overall program and quickly surface potential issues was critical to success. However, the existing tools and process failed to deliver on two fronts. Once the initiatives were complete, tracking the returned value became difficult. In addition, spreadsheets provided only a single snapshot of the portfolio and it was thus difficult to identify trends (track KPIs) and proactively address issues.

With significant business and technology initiatives underway, a more robust change management program was needed to ensure the initiatives would return the promised benefit. The challenge is not merely to complete tasks in a project plan, but to ensure the organization executes effectively with a focus on returning value.

The Solution Required a New Approach:

The solution needed to be easy to use and quick to deliver value. The organization turned to a cloud-based business execution application. Utilizing this new technology in a collaborative fashion, the organization was able implement a new, more robust change management program in a matter of weeks. This new collaboration technology enabled the organization to capture a set of health measures for each initiative that are represented in scorecards, dashboards and heatmaps to quickly identify trends or at-risk initiatives. Where potential risks are identified, integrated action plans are developed and monitored to mitigate the risk. After projects are completed, this technology maintains key health measures and KPIs to ensure the initiatives continue to deliver the desired impact to the business. See an example executive dashboard with a summary heat map below:

Significant Results:

The organization was able to quickly identify value from this new approach and supporting technology within a matter of weeks. New initiative scorecards are now created and rolled up into heatmaps providing a more accurate and objective view of the true ‘health’ of the portfolio.
Not only is the health of the program more accurate, it is also timelier. Quarterly program reviews has been replaced with monthly action-planning meetings to identify risks earlier in an initiative’s lifecycle, saving time and money. Within these meetings, joint action plans are developed and managed for each risk and updates are delivered throughout the month automatically to the relevant stakeholders. 

Net; Net: 

Getting the most out of your change programs and incremental transformation efforts is the larger goal for many organizations today. The new approach, supported by new technology, allowed the energy company to maximize the results over a large portfolio of change projects. 

This is a highly summarized and anonymous case study provided by Shibumi 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Target Innovative Process and Business Models: An Example

If your organization does not target innovation in their processes that serve business products and services, someone else will. I certainly wouldn't want to answer to my executives when a competitor throws down the gauntlet with a threatening innovative process. I would much prefer to deliver additional revenue and satisfied customers. This example is one that Stessa B. Cohen of Gartner has documented for the mortgage loan arena for banks and other financial services organizations. It is a great example of a target model for a digital transformation and gets the creative juices flowing as it challenges the mortgage loan industry to think beyond just gather loan information, underwriting and servicing loans from a organizational perspective. Let's start with a picture from Gartner.

Innovative Business Process:

When searching for a home, banks are not helpful at all. Imagine driving through your favorite area and snapping a picture of your dream home at the moment. Then having your bank pre-qualify you for a loan by aggregating your financial information and suggest a loan amount and alternative houses of a similar type in a similar or same sub-division based on your priorities.When a new property hits the market that meets your home requirements profile, you are notified. Now that's a mortgage process that pleases clients. Instead of starting at the traditional steps 6,7&8 that are rather limited but not loyalty minded, this model considers the customer journey from their perspective.
Is this model realistic, you ask?  The answer is "YES" as a failing bank in the UK bailed itself out during the recent recession with this new and innovative model. Watch out competitors !!!!

Digital Impacts:

This approach demands a social, mobile cloud approach for the first mile. This approach requires a big data pool that analyzes the customers needs and rules for engagement. It also notes emerging market events and bring them to the potential buyers attention. After the offer, then the traditional jet underwriting, case management, e-signature and document management kicks in as expected. Imagine that bank instrumenting the home for water, vapor, fire and break-in events to protect their investment and having the IoT notifying interested parties?

Net; Net: 

Who will put you out of business with innovative processes while you sleep at the switch?

Friday, April 3, 2015

For Those Who Celebrate Easter

Peace be to all. If you don't celebrate Good Friday and Easter, please pass by this one. For those who do, this is the celebration of our freedom and peace. Happy Easter !!!!

Notice the contrast of the skies for my Good Friday painting and the flower that represents mankind humbled before the cross and freed from judgement and working ones way to heaven. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Can You Order Transformations Over Easy?

Transformation can be a scary word and it's better when it is not a "forced march".  If a business sees an opportunity to enhance or change their business model, supported by newer technologies, there is a positive feel to transformation despite the fears of the journey. However it is not always the choice of the business. If there is an erosion of customer base, competitive threats, downward trends or an upstart in the industry that redefines your sector, this may become a forced march. There are those that believe the emergence of new digital technologies will create an environment where organizations will have to step up or else. I have seen three kind of transformation strategies used and had the challenge to implement with all three, but they were rarely easy. I was fortunate enough to live through all three and deliver value to the organizations that employed them.

Big Bang:

It's bit like taking a plunge in a lake without know the temperature of the water and racing at full speed before you sink. This is where a large scope with a high risk / reward situation is in play. The benefit of  these kind of transformations is that they can deliver big results that take advantage of emerging opportunities or protect from emerging threats. They can take a long period of time before the benefits flow and take an incredible amount confidence and patience. This is what I call the "all in" approach to transformation that requires extreme nerves and not for the frail of heart. Instrumenting measures and progress by trusted managers is the key to success here with more than the normal amount of communication. Quite often, many external skill bases are imported temporarily to make this happen to overcome inertia. Having worked on a successful "super sized" big bang effort, it took some super savvy executive leadership to pull it off even with a very talented skill base of near 1000 people over the duration of this 500 million dollar plus transformation.

Incremental Transformation:

This approach is a slow emergence approach to get used to the water over time. This is where a large transformation is broken into "bite sized" pieces with benefit delivery points along the way to help fund the overall transformation. This approach allows everyone to see the benefits and learn incrementally while building up skills and confidence as you go. This mitigates risk and the amount of investment needed to get the benefits. This is what I call "try it you will like it" approach that requires a smaller initial investment, but it does take a longer time. The advantage is that you can do this with you existing staff and help them learn and grow over time. This can be called a small steps to a big change over time approach. You can enjoy the cooling of the water with or without swimming. This is a balanced approach. Having worked on an innovative departmental based effort that set the target by creating a user experience first and filling in the more difficult, but beneficial features later, delivered the goods for us.

Aggressive Incremental Transformation:

If you want to swim quickly, but want to back out of the water at any time or switch strokes in the middle of your race, this approach works well. This is where small portions of a transformation are tried and cobbled together quickly delivering experience, good or bad, and making appropriate adjustments. You have to have "a fail fast; scale fast mentality" that puts a premium on "do it, try it & fix it". This is a great approach where there is a significant amount of new skills, technology and methods. It is easy to fall into a trap here. One can just play and wander around without a larger target in mind or make adjustment to the larger goals and target business model. If the end game is considered well here, the speed to market is greatly increased over just incremental transformation. Having worked on one of these approaches with a rotating "c suite" representative per day for confirmation of results, we ended up with a chaotic way of managing.  Eventually we steered ourselves to a final result that made all smile. The problem was that the executives wanted all projects going forward to work this way. Unfortunately we had legacy code to deal with for our traditional processes and applications.

Net; Net:

Keep in mind these can be used in combination if planned well or adjusted quickly based on results. I believe that a digital transformation is in every organization's future and those who learn to manage it well will be the winners. I also believe that adaptive and agile processes that create a better customer experience will be a key support ingredient along with many of the new emerging digital technology combinations. So what do you believe? Wait until it is a forced march or get ahead of the trend?

Reference Reading: