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Janelle Hill, research vice-president at Gartner, said, "The competency of a business to change its processes more frequently will be the main differentiator between one company and another. BPM will be the next killer application of IT."
IT directors will have a key role to play in this drive for efficiency. Research from Gartner suggests that IT directors will take more responsibility for business processes over the next five years, with a growing number of products available to automate business processes and improve operational efficiency.
However, BPM tools, which are designed to automate business processes using workflow, cannot yet be sourced from the major software providers.
Hill said, "It is not quite a mainstream market. There are more than 170 suppliers and the leaders are not household names."
Although IT directors needed to think strategically about process improvement, Hill recommended they take a tactical approach. "Start with a strategic design of the process to improve, assess development skills, then pick one of the best-of-breed providers, but recognise that the supplier may be acquired or may merge," she said.
Explaining the rise of BPM, Hill said, "Business conditions have fundamentally changed due to globalisation and the internet, leading to the commoditisation of products." This is leading many organisations to look to operational efficiency and process management to boost competitiveness, she said.
One user of BPM is mobile operator Orange, which has been using the technology to help it keep on top of the fast-paced world of mobile communications. Paul Tuffs, programme office manager at Orange, said, "BPM frees people up to think creatively and gives them a structure so they can see what is going on and who is responsible and accountable for different parts of a business process."
Related article: Buying BPM in a service oriented world
According to analyst company Gartner, IT directors and CIOs will take more responsibility for business processes over the next five years.
Listen to an exclusive podcast interview with Gartner vice-president Janelle Hill, Orange programme manager Paul Tuffs, and BEA senior technical evangelist Martin Percival, who discuss what the future holds for the technology and the practical issues of implementation.