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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: The Pros and Cons of Social Business with Mac McConnell, BonitaSoft

April 12, 2013 No Comments

In the below interview, Mac McConnell from BonitaSoft describes some of the positive and negative attributes of social business, and outlines ways in which  BPM and social business can work together to increase efficiency and productivity for enterprises today.

  • Q. What do you see as the pros and cons of social collaboration within the workplace?

A. Pros:

The benefit of social collaboration within the workplace is the amount of sharing that occurs when an organization decides to effectively use social tools. The best part of the ideal social collaboration is to have one centralized stream of information for everyone. There are no siloed streams for certain teams or individuals or across multiple systems. There is just one main stream of information, making it easier for people to get the information they are looking for. It is very transparent and easily accessible — such as how deals are progressing, how projects are developing and how items are evolving over time — without requiring people to check in on multiple fronts on different platforms and with multiple people.

Having this stream also develops the organization into a “push” model of information rather than a “pull.” With email, there is a constantly pull of requests, asking for information and status of projects; with social collaboration, there is a push model, statuses constantly being updated, running with new information in only one stream.  A push model helps an organization to focus on tasks that need attention, rather than answering the multiple pull requests.


In social collaboration, ideally there would be one stream. However, the likelihood of that truly existing is slim. There are multiple social streams for multiple jobs, projects and on multiple platforms.

There are also some disadvantages to social collaboration in the workplace. The social collaboration stream requires users, usually workers, to manually update. You’re now asking for users to add another task to an already busy work schedule and it may not happen.

The idea of one true stream also creates its own problems. With multiple people updating, there is excessive information and not the correct information. The stream ends up being ineffective, full of useless updates and not the correct information, wasting time and resources without any benefits to anyone.

There needs to be a correct balance to fully exploit the benefits of social collaboration and avoid the risky disadvantages. Organizations need to have a stream that contains the right balance of manual updates, documents, resources and system updates.

  • Q. Do you see inefficiencies in social business, and if so, do you feel that connectors to existing streams are the way to go?

A. There are inefficiencies in social business — one of the largest being the number of different social streams in an organization. With the rapid rise in popularity of enterprise social networks such as Jive, Yammer, Chatter (not to mention Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare, and LinkedIn,) people are using these platforms in the workplace, yet there is a gap in their design. Today, if your organization hasn’t officially developed or organized its social business, there are already likely to be multiple social streams within just one organization—before you even begin implementing your social business strategy.

Connectors into existing streams may work, and teams could begin using tools of social business in multiple siloed forms. However, you may run into the problem above — having too many streams and no overlaying tool to unify them all and no way to easily find information that you may be looking for.

Now is the time for businesses to actually use social business tools effectively.  The best way to do this is to make a decision, on a single social system for your organization. It needs to have enough flexibility that as a user can filter out noise that social streams can cause and have the functions to follow and search for certain groups, people, projects, hashtags, etc.—getting exactly the information that they want at that moment. That is how you can really control that social stream and make social collaboration work for your organization.

  • Q. Do you see BPM and social business as working together to increase efficiency and productivity for enterprises today?

A. At BonitaSoft, we see BPM and social business working together to increase efficiency and productivity for enterprises today. However, BPM and social business will work only if the social elements aren’t just contained in the BPM suites. If they are, it creates yet another stream that needs manual updating.

The most effective way to use BPM and social business is to have triggers within the business processes that automatically update or assign an action in the social stream. Using the functionally of business processes management tools to trigger actions within the social stream will create efficiency and productivity in the enterprise. It’s combining the ease-of-use tools of BPM with the benefits of popular social media tools.

For instance, a company using’s Chatter function for its paid time off processes is able to increase efficiency. A worker completes the request form and applies for time off, creating a process for approval. This triggers a new update in the social stream and notifies the worker’s managers, who then can approve/reject the time quickly, ending the process.  These requests are being pushed to the managers, reminding them an action is required and eliminating extra action steps on the worker or managers to check multiple streams and tools. It essentially creates a push model as mentioned earlier using social business and BPM together.

  • Q. How can businesses begin to overcome integration challenges associated with social BPM?

A. At BonitaSoft, we have been passionate about openness and connectivity since our start. One of the integration challenges we see for businesses is in using only propriety software, where a lot of modules only work with each other and offer a very specific range of abilities. That limits new tools and creates the integration challenges that may be associated with social BPM.  “Open” companies really believe that people and software are empowered by connecting to various systems. Now, even the top enterprise software applications have openness in their systems allowing for cross integration to social streams. Having a closed system defeats the whole purpose of social and does not allow for the benefits of a social business.

That being said, once considered a challenge, integration with multiple tools has become easier in the last few years. With the rise of more APIs, social companies and software companies are developing better APIs.  Today, there are APIs that are secure, easy to use and easy to configure, eliminating most of the challenges with integration.  You can now integrate BPM tools into social streams, or any other application, pushing updates for users and creating social collaboration.

It is easy to integrate BPM into any social stream. The challenge comes in making the decision of what information should be placed in the social stream. When you integrate a BPM suite, you need to decide what type of data you want shared, where and how, and place those in the rules in the BPM engine that will reflect that and run the processes. You’ll want to put in those governing rules so that not everything is being shared in the social stream—keeping it more streamlined and effective for those using it and seeking information.

  • Q. What role do you see social BPM playing within the rapid evolution of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)?

A. The BYOD movement is here, and it’s too late for IT departments to take any effective action to prevent workers from using their devices for work purposes. It’s now become a management issue, in which social BPM can help.

First, as the workforce becomes more mobile, it is critical to have social BPM work effectively. Even without being in the office, it is essential to move processes along. That can involve rejecting a task, checking the status of a project or doing basically anything related to a process. It’s critical that BPM vendors make their interfaces available on the mobile devices.

Don’t think of it as social BPM. Think in terms of having the right information at the right time to make a decision. This can be in any social app. If you have a process approver somewhere in the system, that person should be able to do his/her job on his/her mobile device. We are focusing a lot of effort in this area to make sure process can be kicked off through some mobile action as well as to make sure anybody who’s involved in the process can take appropriate actions using their mobile device. For instance, with the earlier example of requesting time off — having all the correct information available in the process helps to make that decision quickly — even on a mobile device in a different country.

It’s not a question of social BPM and the rapid revolution of BYOD anymore. It’s about the social stream and the BPM plugging into the social stream, allowing you to view all the information. The social stream and BYOD now allows you to be able to monitor all of the updates on your device — just like you would with social platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn.

  • Q. What solutions will BonitaSoft be offering in 2013 to accommodate the ever growing needs surrounding social business today?

A. BonitaSoft will not be bringing social solutions to market in 2013. Instead we are expanding our connectivity with social tools, training our services team and designing processes to better service the customer to have social collaboration.

We are designing with social in mind to offer the best solutions for our customers’ needs. We are asking the questions about social in the beginning of our discussions with our customers so they are able to design with social tools and effectively use social streams in all of their processes. It’s no longer an afterthought — it’s at the core of the next BPM tools.

We already have connections with Twitter, Salesforce Chatter, Yammer, Jive, Facebook, and are continuing to improve our connection to those systems. As additional social systems come online, we will be monitoring and making sure our connectivity works wells and offering these options to our customers to use it.

The second step that BonitaSoft takes is when we design our process-templates, (pre-defined process map and diagram based on best practices such as HR solutions, IT request solutions), there are components of those templates that can easily program into social streams.

The third area is the training with own services teams around best practices with social BPM. We include this as part of our training and stress our core messages around openness, open connectivity, ease of connectively to all social streams to the organization.

 IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: The Pros and Cons of Social Business with Mac McConnell, BonitaSoft

Mac McConnell, Vice President of Marketing, BonitaSoft. Mac is responsible for all aspects of global marketing, including brand awareness, communications, demand and lead generation, and go to market. He comes to BonitaSoft from BlueBird Strategies, a San Francisco-based lead generation advisory firm that he co-founded and served as managing partner. Previously, Mac was Global Marketing Lead for Sun Microsystems’ mid-market group, where he developed successful programs that generated over $400 million in sales pipeline. He has also held prominent sales roles at JPMorganChase and Deutsche Banc Alex Brown. Mac holds an M.B.A. from the University of San Francisco and a B.A. from Colgate University



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