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Services-Driven Business Process Management (BPM)

Services are composed of a variety of business processes, which are further made up of subprocesses, activities, or tasks (level 2). These level 2 subprocesses typically combine resources from different systems, are developed in different languages, or are hosted by different systems.

Only recently have organizations realized that to adequately serve the customer in real time, a concurrent investment in front-end BPM has to occur. Forward-thinking firms such as eBay and Amazon.com understood this requirement and invested heavily in developing a proprietary BPM layer. They're now reaping the benefits as some of the few online retailers that can provide transparency and seamless integration across multiple business processes and portals.

The concept of a services-driven BPM capability can be seen clearly in the strategy of the telecom industry. In the past, composite processes for core business activities such as service activation, account management, service plan upgrades, and bill payment were handled using a combination of phone calls, faxes, and mail. Activating a new phone service could take hours. To address this issue, most telecom carriers invested heavily in streamlining the real-time service provisioning and activation using the BPM capability. As a result, it's now possible for customers, dealers, and resellers to handle nearly every aspect of sales and customer account management online (see Figure 2).

Figure 2Figure 2 Telecom industry service platform.

The bottom line is that bringing self-service personalized solutions into the real world has proven to be a complex undertaking. A large part of this struggle can be attributed to the lack of a standard way to implement BPM capabilities that anchor every customer, employee, supplier, dealer, and reseller self-service portal. Instead of finding the right services blueprint for improving specific competitive gaps, businesses often made huge investments in software that failed to address their underlying problems.

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