In a recent Wall Street Journal article, it was announced that Google Search will be more social. They’d like users to be able to recommend search results to their online community of contacts. This is a bold new direction for a company that makes its living from a 10-year old agorithm that has been its reliable bread-and-butter.

There is certainly risk, but Google is looking ahead in a way we all should be, especially here in the business process management arena. They’re making bold moves because they know it is ’game on’ when it comes to competing with the likes of a much-younger Facebook, which from the moment it started, was social and, effectively, collaborative.

Collaboration is the new currency of interaction and ideation. It is safe to say that BPM systems that ignore this trend are likely to be out of date fairly quickly or playing a vigorous round of catch-up.

The first time I heard the term ‘Social BPM’, I was a bit skeptical. But the more I think about process and its context, the more I realize we’ve always had social BPM, we just used diverse ways to collaborate that were fragmented and not reusable.

The ‘idea on a napkin’ at lunch, the whiteboard, and PowerPoint have been our tools for social BPM but the audience was always a select few and the feedback loop was very constricted. Just as BPM is recognized to require a systematic approach, the collaboration and sharing of BPM content must also be systematic for a platform to be accepted and therefore, useful. Any system that doesn’t capture the end-user’s attention and gain their trust (and feedback) will quickly fail.

Forrester’s Clay Richardson has it dead-on right in ‘Is Social BPM A Methodology, A Technology, Or Just A Lot Of Hype?‘. It is about technology and methdologies that tranform an organization. This is only going to become a stronger drumbeat over the next couple of years as users demand interaction and companies respond with ways of harnessing everyone’s ideas and energy.