Anti-Social – What would a social BPM solution look like?

March 25, 2012 No Comments

Written by: E. Scott Menter, VP of Business Solutions for BP Logix

antisocial 3 Anti Social   What would a social BPM solution look like?I was an unsociable boy, a computer nerd living well before such folks were celebrated in popular culture. My ability to type at 90 WPM, or to safely navigate a maze of twisty little passages, all alike, were not widely admired by my pre-teen peers. So perhaps that experience has colored my feelings about the role of “social” in BPM.

What would a social BPM solution look like? Hard to say. Let’s talk first about what social is NOT. Social is not just another word for “collaborative”. Shared file systems are collaborative, but not social. Twitter is social, but not really collaborative. Besides, if social is synonymous with collaborative, then virtually every enterprise application is social already, and there’s nothing more to discuss.

No, social has to mean something special. A precise definition is beyond the scope of this post, but you know it when you see it. And you see it everywhere: somebody even came up with a bathroom scale that can tweet your weight. That’s information I want to forget the moment I learn it, not spotlight for the entire Twitterverse.

Is social BPM like the tweeting scale? Perhaps. There are ways that BPM can be enhanced to better support social business processes, and if that’s what social BPM means, I’m all for it. But it’s less obvious how social features might be used to enhance the modeling, creation, and management of business processes in general.  Should I worry if nobody “likes” my expense report process? Am I to be concerned whether or not the new business rule I created will appeal to my followers? Do I “friend” the colleague down the hall working on the capital expenditures form?

Technology trends come and go, and there’s nothing wrong with wondering if a new approach can be applied to an old problem. Social features are enhancing web sites, games—even maps and menus. What’s more, social isn’t the only technology wave crashing onto the BPM beach. I recently predicted that there would soon be interest in the gamification of BPM, only to discover that industry guru Theo Priestly has already been exploring this frontier.

Like most other IT disciplines, BPM has to prove its continued relevance on an ongoing basis. Relevance is not an easy cliff to scale, and one has to bring the most up-to-date gear available. You have to be selective, though, because carrying unneeded equipment will only weigh you down. Time will tell, but I suspect that social is a tool best left behind.


Scott Menter Anti Social   What would a social BPM solution look like?E. Scott Menter is the VP of Business Solutions for BP Logix, a provider of business process management (BPM) solutions to corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Scott is the former head of technology for WaMu Investments, a national retail brokerage. In addition to technology leadership positions he held in financial services and higher education, Scott spent over a decade leading his own identity management software firm. Scott invites you to contact him at or on Twitter at

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