Apple introduced the new iMac yesterday. Faster processors, more graphics umph and an HD camera. It puzzled me at first as I tried to reason why an HD camera would matter on a very stationary PC.

Then it dawned on me that what I was seeing was another step in the direction of ‘social’. We’re moving rapidly toward all social, all of the time. There aren’t enough great ways to connect and communicate and now we need to have video chats in high def, too. We need the web connected experience to be as close as possible to the real thing.

Not just for family and friends, either. We want our home or remote office experience to be just like being there. Better yet, we want tools that automate the connection to the right people at the right time. We want our software to ‘find’ the common interests, the common problems and suggest things and people we wouldn’t consider, left to our own conversations. This isn’t futuristic, it is here, now.

Social in business

The means to communicate need to be as good or better than being there. Streaming conversations are so last decade. It needs to be easier and faster than being in person.

I’m headed off to Cisco today to meet with customers and talk about their BPM needs going forward. The topic of social BPM will undoubtedly come up and I’ll share my views on how one of the most cutting edge, virtual companies can get even better.

Sounds hard, but there are always ways to increase performance through technology, especially a brand-new capability. I’m fortune to be in the business process space, which I firmly believe is the one common language of an enterprise. More than sales, more than services, more than any other aspect of doing work.

I’ll admit, ‘social’ can strike fear into the hearts of the traditionalist (and/or control freak), and social BPM is no different. Will making my processes open to all lead to chaos and anarchy? I would argue the opposite is true, as Gartner’s Jim Sinur talks about in “Getting painted in a corner by structured business processes.”

To limit knowledge and process improvement to ‘expert advice’ will more and more be seen as anti-dynamic and standing in the way of collaboration and progress.


So what are the logical boundaries of this social wave? Is this a pendulum that will swing into the absurd before coming back to center in the practical? Most things work that way, but this, in my opinion, is a game changer.

Once everyone in the enterprise is working from the same playbook and ideas can flow easily up, down and sideways, there’s a transformation that takes place that won’t ‘swing back to center.’ The boundaries of this new paradigm aren’t within our imagination yet, as we’re all trapped to some degree within the limits of what we know.

Most senior management hasn’t lived in a truly ‘social’ environment and may not understand what needs to happen and why. Traditions are very hard to break.

The boundaries of social business process management will be determined by the willingness of leadership to let this shift take place.