Saturday, December 1, 2012

Process’s Cloud Ladder, How Steep is it

The world is spinning apart, integration is what brings it together,

BPM continues its journey, from ground, climbs to the mountain hill, will it move up to the cloud in the future, as social collaboration and outside-in architecture intend to invite customers and partners into conversation, to co-develop next generation of products or services, to orchestrate the optimized business process & capabilities and to shape the new business ecosystem.

There are aspects of BPM that would operate well in the Cloud, as long as the risks associated with doing so are appropriately addressed. The Cloud offers an entry point that allows companies of all sizes to benefit from capabilities that would otherwise not be within their reach.

1. Is Cloud Ladder Open or Steep? 

When talking of the cloud, most of people think of running software in the browsers, well,  if that is how Cloud being perceived as SAAS, and then, you might only see part of cloud and won’t be moving much to the cloud yet. If leveraging real "apps" that have services hosted in the cloud, you soon then see how you can have fully interoperable solutions, highly scalable solutions, multiple connected devices, understanding of state across devices, understand the Infrastructure as A Service, Platform as A Service,  etc. and then the cloud makes a lot of sense for a lot of business tasks and processes. If all your applications, assets, etc are in the Cloud, your processes will be too.

The paradox is: Some think cloud will be destination, while others say not all processes will be in the cloud, just like not all systems, solutions, services will be in the cloud. The cloud is an EXTENSION of IT capabilities and flexibility, it doesn’t mean everything suits it perfectly, but it also doesn’t mean nothing should be moved to it. Each organization has to look at which solutions, services, and processes they want to move to the cloud, and they have to look at what that means realistically, what positive and negative impacts that will bring:

  • First, the infrastructure used to support the BPM technologies will be based in the cloud. Even if the underlying infrastructure starts as a hybrid model of cloud/on-premise, the direction will inevitably lead to pure cloud environments.

  • Second, the process itself will incorporate some element of data, information, or content that is only available in the cloud. From data, content, and information perspective, the cloud is inescapable.

  • Third, cloud is on the horizon: Those who have bet against technology evolutions in the past have so often placed the wrong bet that is much safer to be on the "cloud" side of the odds in the upcoming years.

Moreover, the step to move process into cloud should synchronize with the pace of business's collaborative cloud journey and digital transformation, crowd-sourcing, multi-channel sales/purchasing /marketing., etc. are refining traditional business processes, thus, the processes' cloud ladder may not be as steep as some thought about.

2. Integration is Key to Move Process to the Cloud 

There will be a general rush to adopt cloud-based processes as a natural extension and adoption of cloud BPM, primarily because of the 'perceived' cost benefit, speed and service.  Eventually "cloud" is transparent and most of the IT apps are "in the cloud"... when it is truly ubiquitous, no one even care where the software is running, you just want a URL and login to interoperate with it.

BPM may be one of the last categories to fully move over because so many of its dependencies on other systems which are inside the firewall, and it is easier to reach outside to the cloud than to reach inside into the firewall. End-to-end business processes are perhaps the hardest thing to move to the cloud when considering the needs for lots of systems integration.

The world is spinning apart, integration is what brings it together, Mobile, social collaboration, analytics are all just forms of integration - real-time adaptive work integration. Discovery modeling and off-line analysis can easily be done on a BPM system running in the cloud. But there are quite a few things to consider if BPM-based application also retrieve and update data from company's big data.

3. The Roadblocks to Cloud 

In securing the usage of a cloud-based BPM platform, particular attention should be paid to data security, latency, data protection, retention, regulatory impacts, compliance changes, customer backlash and the penalties that could be associated with any data leakage. Cloud process governance along with risk management for data, apps., etc.. will directly impact process effectiveness and efficiency in Cloud.

The costs for maintaining a cloud based process chain will be spiral and commoditized processes will no longer be in fashion. To do that, businesses need to solve issues of vendor reliance and trust, compliance, performance, etc. And there is already lots of integration with external parties that were never in-house in the first place. This is a foundation for the move to more cloud-like environments. Done at the right pace and in the right way, there is no need for business operations or customers to be negatively affected by cloud deployment.

When processes move to the cloud, business may reach the new milestone for digital transformation. The ladder to Cloud is not completely open yet, but also not as steep as you think.


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