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Business Process Management Is Evolving Fast. How is Your Business Keeping Up in 2021?

After a year of rapid, high-stakes changes across the business landscape, organizations that want to stay competitive are entering 2021 with a focus on efficiency, adaptability and speed. Business process management (BPM) technology is poised to help businesses achieve these goals because the components that underpin BPM are becoming more efficient and adaptable.

We’ve identified four key trends in BPM this year – robotic automation, adaptive case management, low-code development and data unification. Together, they can create dynamic business process management flows that shorten process cycles, reduce the need for manual intervention, speed time-to-development and create seamless customer and employee experiences.

1.    Robotic automation

Traditionally, business process flows required data entry or data validation throughout most steps. With robotic automation, these rules-based tasks are managed by a software “robot.” Because robotic automation typically manages tasks faster than humans, without data entry mistakes that humans sometimes make, it reduces the cycle time of that business process while reducing costs.

Robotic automation, sometimes called robotic process automation (RPA) is a fairly mature BPM technology that’s gaining widespread adoption because of the potential for efficiency gains. RPA was the fastest-growing enterprise software market in 2019, and a June 2020 survey reported that more than 90% of companies planned to implement robotic process automation by the end of the year.

2.    Adaptive case management leverages machine learning for smarter automated workflows

RPA isn’t the only BPM technology that’s advancing. Intelligent case management, which evolved from preset workflows, isnow evolving into adaptive case management. Adaptive case management is datacentric and can use machine-learning algorithms to:

  • Interpret case data.
  • Determine where cases are routed.
  • Decide when a case should move to a certain process.
  • Select the steps and activities for the data within the chosen process.

What makes this different is that instead of getting stuck waiting for manual intervention when a case falls outside pre-set parameters, adaptive case management’s machine learning resources can analyze past transactions for similar patterns and data context. Then the system adapts that information for the current case and routes the case based on its own analysis.

This ability to choose based on context and past choices speeds up case management. It also requires less human intervention, but there is a learning curve early on. Someone will need to validate the adaptive case management tool’s early decisions, until it even learns to execute unusual workflows correctly on its own.

3.    Low-code development platforms shorten time-to-results

Adaptive case management implementation contributes to another BPM trend, which is the low-code environment. Low-code platforms allow developers to drag and drop the elements they need to create an application in a few hours or days, instead of the weeks or months it takes to write, test and refine code for an application.

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With adaptive case management processes in place, the system can autoconfigure itself based on the most current case management data. Then, developers don’t need to make many changes to get the new application or process working correctly. Development can happen quite quickly, and business users can directly validate the outcome and with feedback on what works and what needs adjustment. Improvements can be made fast, and that also speeds up time-to-use dramatically.

The low-code approach has been widely adopted by major retailers for their mobile shopping apps. Three-quarters of the top retail apps available in the U.S. are now hybrid apps. These apps are built on low-code development platforms that unify the company’s underlying data and systems and create a seamless, feature-rich customer experience. Retailers are opting for this approach because hybrid apps can be built quickly, often in less than a month, compared to months or longer for native apps.

4.    Combining these elements of BPMunifies data, increases efficiency and reduces costs

The result of leveraging robotic process automation, adaptive case management and low-code/no-code development is the power to unify business applications, go to market faster and deliver a seamless experience for the customer.

Moving from siloed operational steps in multiple systems to one end-to-end business process requires integrating the systems so they can perform in unison. BPM now has the capacity to orchestrate and continuously optimize multi-system integrations.

For example, a major IT and networking enterprise recently sought to unify applications, data sources, and systems of record to take new offers to market faster, drive customer demand and revenue, outperform its competitors, and improve the user experience for partners and customers. Working with experienced consultants and vendors, the company implemented a customized, scalable intelligent business process automation platform to support multiple functional domains, apply to each use case without individual start requests, and deliver transparency across the company’s business lines.

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As an initial result of this BPM project, the company’s key operational costs were reduced almost by 75% in certain process areas, user productivity increased by 22% and the company gained 120,000 employee work hours per quarter.

Getting the most from BPM in the year ahead

To ensure that your company keeps pace with the BPM trends that are driving change now, start by working with your team to assess where you are today in terms of your BPM framework’s maturity. Then you can identify the areas where your business processes need improvements for your company to reach its goals, whether they are increased time-to-capability, higher user productivity, cost reduction or improved agility.

With consensus on your company goals and what you need to accomplish them, you can create a roadmap to improve your existing business process management or get started with BPM. Using that roadmap and working with experienced advisors, your organization can implement BPM solutions that help you achieve and optimize on your business and IT goals and keep pace with change as it happens.

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