How rapidly things can change. Back at my desk after a vacation in Greece and Albania, the small lawn in front of my office is transformed. The rains have returned to this corner of England and a parched rock-hard yellow patch of earth became vibrant green almost overnight. And it brings new life: as I watch, two thrushes, a blackbird and a robin are busy feasting on worms.

It was an old-school holiday: family, books, conversations and trips – and no laptop or Blackberry. I freely confess that I barely thought about work. It has taken a couple of days just to re-boot my business brain.

Maybe I paid no attention to work – but it must have been chugging away in my subconscious. Because I came back from the beach more convinced than ever that the rains are coming very shortly to this corner of the business world – business process management, performance improvement and sourcing – and that we are about to witness a transformation of our world. [Yep – bring on the worms!]

I wrote a piece at the beginning of the year about the convergence of several strands of thinking – in IT, in Lean and Six Sigma, in compliance and risk management, and in multisourcing – into one single realisation: that an enterprise-wide platform for process management is essential for sustainable success.

Everything since has confirmed this to be true, and that the pace of change is accelerating. One single data point this week seemed to amply confirm this [and justify my holiday hunch].

I was party to a conversation with the global leader of a process strategy consulting practice. They do no implementation whatever – solely process strategy consulting. They have more than 100 consultants and are expanding rapidly, driven by C-level client demand as the vital importance of process shifts upwards onto the board agenda.

It wasn’t just that firm’s expansion – what was really encouraging was their focus. They are thinking enterprise-wide and about process engagement and adoption. They see automation – for so long the narrow focus of the BPM world – as valuable but essentially a second order challenge. They see BPM inter alia as the way that the enterprise articulates its requirements so that IT can deliver the appropriate supporting systems. In that context, they see BPM as the framework and language for business-IT alignment.

It’s the nature of rapid change of course that the majority usually don’t realise until some time after the event. No doubt ‘BPM = automation’ will contine to command a lot of attention on the conference circuit. And partial solutions will continue to proliferate – along with BPM confusion. But the real fundamentals are becoming clearer day-by-day.

As I noted last month, the good news is that this new world for BPM is not only bursting with life, it’s also a far more interesting place to work – much more multi-disciplinary and collaborative, for instance. And in terms of human energies, far more productive too.