Social is a Phenomenon, not another Discipline/Practice!

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Yesterday in Forrester #crmjam on Twitter, Social (networking, not cause!) aspects got a lot of attention. Theo correctly points out the possibilities of convergence between BPM and CRM. One of the converging points, as per him, is around social BPM and social CRM – again correctly.

During the same jam session, I tweeted about the fact that “social” seems to be an underlying theme around lot of disciplines/practices/technologies. And, in this rare event when we had folk from BPM, BI, and Collaboration towns of the world trying to collaborate with the CRM cause, we still were using terms that ended up pointing back to our living areas or “silos”. So, I wondered why we continue to look at the themes as Social BPM, Social CRM or Social XYZ (where XYZ could be any technology or discipline). My note there ended with a statement – “Social is a Phenomenon, and not a discipline”. (And I ended up committing to Connie and Clay that a post on the same is coming up, so I had no option but to post this 😉 )

So, this point actually aligns well with what Theo pointed out that social could be one underlying theme that could make some of these traditional silos to work together.

However, when we start looking at social aspects as the phenomenon, and not tie with a separate discipline, it has ramifications for better, such as:

  • Social BPM or Social CRM will not look like a destination, but a context-setting for the passing set of events of current times
  • It will prevent us from creating further sub-silos within our current silos (Social BPM under BPM, Social CRM under CRM), and hence help converge than alienate
  • Social as underlying theme or phenomenon will help us focus on the actual objective behind the concept – that is, collaborate in the best interest of the customer
  • Hopefully, prevent duplication of effort across disciplines (Do you really need a separate collaboration technology for usage in BPM vis-à-vis CRM or anything else?)
  • And, save us from wasted energies in new terms, clarification of those, and more saving in terms of getting rid of those when this context-setting phase has passed.

What should remain – when we are done with this phenomenon –  is the set of disciplines that are better placed to collaborate and synergize toward customer centricity.


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  1. #1 by Max J. Pucher on March 25, 2010 - 9:54 am

    Hi, while I am glad that this is finally a subject of discussion, it is also somewhat annoying. I recommended the merging of ECM, BPM and CRM already in 2005 and the first time I posted about it was in 2007. When I did a Forrester briefing about it first time in 2008 and recommended that it had to happen under an Enterprise 2.0 umbrella they all looked at me with blank eyes or knowing smiles. Sort of like, where did they let this guy loose …

    Anyway, Social BPM is today about collaborating on process design (Lombardi BluePrint, ARISalign, SAP-GoogleWave). I propose that the social aspect must get rid of flowchart design and allow the creation of processe in an ADAPTIVE PROCESS environment that also embodies the business entities and content to work with. Do that in a secure manner and there is your social ECM/BPM/CRM. All that is not possible as add-ons to current silos. Their technology will not allow it and therefore merging those products will fail (EMC, IBM, Oracle). You need a platform that was designed from the groudn up to do this like our Papyrus Platform.

    Thanks, for adding to making this subject popular and well known.

  2. #2 by Elise Olding on June 24, 2010 - 4:11 pm

    Agree with Max. In the recently published note “Social BPM – Design by Doing” we defined two aspects of social BPM – design and iteration. It seems the broader social BPM discussion is mainly focused on design. Iteration is the most important aspect.

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