Sunday, March 13, 2011

The New Wave Business Process

Though this post focuses on a particular industry event, I am sure the process concerns raised here resonate across other sectors as well and are just as relevant.

I was at the TM Forum (TM Forum is the world’s leading industry consortium focused on improving business effectiveness for communications Service Providers.) Regional Spotlight in Delhi the previous week. One of the participants brought up the top three priorities for business as -
- New products
- Growth
- Improving Processes

This means post-recession communications service providers are clearly expecting and looking to ride the new wave of growth. At the same time there is a cautious approach to handling this growth by re-using existing infrastructure and improving current processes.
However, this was a CIO view and I would have liked to see more business process owners from operators at this forum participating and gearing up for the changes and improvements required to handle the next wave. (TM Forum's eTOM is the common business process architecture adopted by telecom operators globally.)

Now for improving the business processes, there will be dependence on IT to deliver automation projects that support the process changes or help make existing processes more efficient. No doubt IT will play an important role in process efficiency, but can only act as a catalyst. The initiator of this exercise has to be the process owner who has to have complete clarity on the future roadmap of the organization, the challenges current practices are likely to face in the future and the changes which are required to be brought about to stay current and releavant.

Additionally, newer technologies will change the way we do business. We already have seen the changes in the way we interact with each other in the last five years. These changes have already started seeping into formal interactions and business communication. These changes will further percolate into the business transactions themselves as we see businesses recognize and adopt the power of cloud computing. I am currently conceptualizing a network linked business capability which enables businesses to collaborate online and possibly enter into binding transactions online. You could essentially run your entire business on the cloud. Just imagine the power unleashed by this concept of anytime, anywhere enabling business capability.

The kind of capabilities I am envisaging here changes the way we set up organizational structures, the way we hire and maintain our workforce, the way we interact within the organization, the way we define the tasks essential to carry on business, the way we engage with external stakeholders, in essense everything we call as 'doing business'. Businesses will have to go for a deep introspection and respect none of the currently established practices as valid in the future.

This essentially means the current ways of doing business will just not be good enough to tackle the new wave of growth which will have its own demands of quicker than before delivery, better than ever products and lower than ever costs. In essence this calls for not only looking afresh at business process re-engineering, but also changes the way we look at and perform BPR itself.

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