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BPM predictions: Have the prophecies come true?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Alex Knight / Unsplash)

Uncertainty is the world’s collective fear, so we look to people who can foretell the future. Even at work, we eagerly lap up reports that feature words such as ‘trends’ and ‘predictions’ from industry experts to give us a sense of the direction in which our organisations are headed.

Every year, a few hundred companies publish their predictions about the business process management (BPM) industry. While a lot of them are well-informed estimations, some others just fade into obscurity.

Let’s take a look at where the BPM landscape currently stands with respect to some popular predictions.

Prediction: AI will grow leaps and bounds

Artificial intelligence (AI) is currently playing an enabling role to BPM solutions to optimise business processes. It’s helping organisations analyse massive amounts of data to reveal new commercial opportunities, minimise costs, improve customer experiences, and scale rapidly.

Natural language processing and machine learning are two components of AI that have begun to change the way businesses use technology to communicate and interpret data. They will continue to be a point of focus for organisations in the foreseeable future as they evolve in sophistication.

Prediction: RPA will replace BPM

For just a brief period, there was a falsely optimistic belief that robotic process automation (RPA) would replace BPM completely. This has not and will not happen. Instead, RPA has become a very useful complement to BPM initiatives.

According to Gartner, RPA software revenue reached $846 million in 2018 at a growth of 63.1 per cent. In 2019, it is expected to reach $1.3 billion.

Currently, RPA is finding a wide range of applications across industries such as retail, banking, insurance, human resources, and more. However, when implemented within the context of BPM, its effectiveness is heightened and it can be harnessed to enhance customer experiences and streamline internal operations.

Prediction: Digital transformation will become critical

Couple of years ago, technology professionals had predicted that digital transformation (DX) would become the mainstay of organisations globally. In 2019, although the importance of DX is evident and the need grows more urgent with every passing day, the road to implementation has been rocky.

According to a report by Altimeter, DX efforts continue to gather steam driven by growth opportunities (51 per cent) and competitive pressure (41 per cent). DX initiatives are currently focused on modernising customer touchpoints (54 per cent) and enabling infrastructure (45 per cent). However, 41 per cent of organisations are not basing their efforts on customer research. The biggest challenge to DX practices is lack of organisational buy-in.

Prediction: The need for low-code/no-code apps will increase

In a report titled ‘The State of Application Development’ by Outsystems, 41 per cent of respondents said they were already using a low-code platform and 10 per cent more were about to start using one.

Forrester expects the low-code market to represent $21 billion in spending by 2022. Gartner states low-code application platforms will be responsible for more than 65 per cent of all app development activity by 2024.

All these statistics point to one obvious fact – that organisations are beginning to turn to solutions that are easy to deploy with little to no IT support. No-code BPM solutions help business users hit the ground running and ease massive IT backlogs by a great degree.

Prediction: The rise of the chatbots

Delivering stellar customer experiences is a key driver for process management initiatives. Customers today expect real-time support at any time of the day to help make purchase decisions, resolve grievances, and more. This is made possible by the proliferation of chatbots.

As AI evolves as a technology, customer service continues to become more and more sophisticated. According to a report by Global Market Insights, the size of the chatbot market is likely to exceed $1.34 billion by 2024. Currently, ecommerce companies seem to be leveraging the power of chatbots most efficiently but it’s only a matter of time before other industries learn to deploy them to their advantage.

Prediction: Analytics will become a critical feature in BPM solutions

The growth of analytics-driven BPM software in recent times has led to Gartner coining the term Intelligent Business Process Management Suites (iBPMS). Gartner defines iBPMS as high-productivity, low or no-code platforms that allow businesses to use real-time actionable insights to optimise business processes. They foster agility in operations and facilitate predictive analytics to prepare for the future.

Prediction: Collaboration will get better

Organisations have realised the folly of operating in silos. Collaboration tools are thriving thanks to businesses that are collecting applications like squirrels saving up nuts for the winter.

The fallout of this application purchasing spree is that overload of tools is making teams more unproductive. Organisations need a unified solution, such as an effective digital workplace, to make business operations cohesive and improve efficiency.

In the 2018 US State of Work report by Workfront, respondents said that they spent only 40 per cent of their time on primary duties relating to their jobs. The rest of the time was spent sending emails and sitting through wasteful meetings.

The final word

While making a note of trends can be helpful to stay relevant, it isn’t wise to blindly follow the herd. Keeping the focus on common sense strategies such as improving customer and employee experience, increasing operational efficiency, and integrating existing software to streamline work can protect businesses from the winds of change.

What do you see in the BPM crystal ball?

Suresh Sambandam, CEO, Kissflow