Thursday Feb 21, 2013

BPM renews marriage vows with Big, Fast Data

Business Process Management (BPM) and data management have been attached at the hip for eons. A sound BPM solution cannot succeed without guaranteed and secure data management. And converting data to actionable insight requires human interaction and automation. BPM is what makes data meaningful.

Data has been scrutinized more in recent times than ever before. Big Data and Fast Data are two relatively new terms which have gained significance due to the unprecedented volume of information being generated in recent times. When you look under the covers, both are two ends of the same stick, one side static: somewhat more accepting of delayed reaction and the other very dynamic: requiring reactions on the fly.

Big Data is massive volumes of varied data collected in repositories and analysed for trends such as in data mining and predictive analysis. Business process improvements can be advocated in the organization based on the trend analysis of Big Data. For example, with Big Data and BPM, a retailer can discover how demand increases for specific products at specific periods of time, combine that with social media responses to understand customer preferences, and match that need in the future by appropriate inventory management. This gives the ability to look in the rear-view mirror and make predictions based on history.


Fast Data on the other hand is large volumes of varied data arriving at very high velocity that requires contextual processing in real-time. In most cases, the data becomes meaningless as it ages. BPM brings the facet of adding human interaction and process improvement, making the business process highly dynamic and the data meaningful. For example, a large mobile operator has millions of subscribers and handles tens of thousands of SMS messages per second. Fast Data gives the provider the ability to identify and predict trends based on real-time subscriber events from mobile devices. A reaction to this insight could be suggesting targeted services and location based offerings to the mobile subscribers. Adding BPM to Fast Data would give the mobile operator the ability to make business process improvements to support the trends generated on the fly. Rather than simply study a bottleneck or an opportunity, the operator could actually deploy more resources where needed and capitalize. In addition, cases can be opened to handle any eventualities that require human interaction. And lastly, with BPM in place, the operator could take one step further and analyze if the business process improvement actually made a difference to the operations in real-time. This is like driving with your eyes on the road, making judgement calls to drive optimal and improving your driving skills, all together, in real-time.

An upcoming Oracle Webcast, “Fast Data—Turning High Velocity Data Into Value", will focus on the emerging topic of fast data and the products, solutions, and services Oracle offers to help your organization implement a fast data strategy.

Webcast: Fast Data - Turning High Velocity Data Into Value

Wednesday, February 27, 10am PT Join us for an exclusive event featuring Executive VP of Oracle Fusion Middleware and Java, Hasan Rizvi, and other Oracle Fast Data experts.

Thursday Feb 14, 2013

Oracle Process Accelerators Release 11.1.1.6.3 Now Available

The new Process Accelerators Release (11.1.1.6.3) includes Previews for Employee Onboarding (EOB) and of Business Account Opening (BAO), as well as customer-driven updates to all existing PAs.

PA previews showcase functionality that Oracle BPM customers and prospects can explore, thus matching their requirements to upcoming PAs. Two previews are available in this release:

  • The new Business Account Opening (BAO) preview enables financial services providers to streamline the deposit account opening process for small and medium size businesses. It provides sample customer facing web pages with a guided user interface for entering and submitting a new product application, including services selection, document submission, and funding details. BAO moves the application through the documentation review, identity verification, background checking, account opening, funding, and activation stages. A BAM operational dashboard is also available as part of this preview.
  • The new Employee Onboarding (EOB) preview enables the provisioning process required to make new hires productive when they arrive at their first day of work. The process scope of the EOB preview includes a new hire acceptance of an offer; a hiring manager provisioning using templates of services mapped to job. Services such as office assignment and IT system provisioning, are then provisioned by the Internal Service Request (ISR) PA. The hiring manager can track the status of that request including escalations to meet the hiring date requirements.

All existing PA have been enhanced for this release. Major improvements include:

  • Travel Request Management has new cost elements, Departure and Destination locations, driven by maintainable tables, providing more accurate travel analysis and auditing. These improvements have been driven by customer requirements, including those driven by the extended deployment footprint within Oracle.
  • More out-of-the-box configuration has been added to Document Routing and Approval, to match approval patterns in use at different organizations.
  • Public Sector Incident Reporting has been enhanced with mobile application skins for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry, Web Center integration for enhanced collaboration between case workers, Geospatial Search and proximity calculation capability for more effective map based incident pattern analysis, and NIEM reporting.
  • Enhancements to the Financial Services Loan Origination (FSLO) PA include selection of preferred notification policies by loan applicants, a dynamically generated checklist to simplify the document collection process by a loan officer, and optional electronic acceptance of loan agreements.

Monday Feb 11, 2013

Do You Know the Risk of Shadow Processes?

In order to do business, companies need to buy and develop many applications. These applications help companies perform various functions. Usually, employees may need to access multiple applications to perform an end-to-end function or what we call a business process.

Take, for example, Order Management. In order to take and complete an order, you may need to access CRM system, Inventory Management, Fulfillment, Shipping and Accounting systems. Most of the times these applications are standalone or at best have point-to-point integration. There may be many activities that you need to perform while processing an order that may not be covered with any of these applications. These activities are called process whitespaces, the steps that are not covered with any of your applications. Usually such activities are performed using emails, phone calls, memos, exchanging spreadsheets etc. These are the shadow processes in your organization - the undocumented, unaudited, non-traceable activities. So where is the problem, you may ask. Problem is that these manual activities cause inefficiency in the organization. In the example above, you may not have visibility into the status of an order at any given point in time, and you’ll tend to run business using dated reports. If a customer calls in to check order status, your employees have to access multiple systems to provide that information to the customer. This leads to waste as well as leads to employees taking decisions based on outdated or incomplete information.

In some cases, your company may also be exposed to compliance risks for not having traceability for all required activities. Using manual procedures means that your compliance and audit costs go high, hitting your bottom line and exposing your company and employees to fines or penalties.

One of the key values of BPM is to fill these process whitespaces and make your business more efficient. The idea is not to replace your existing systems or applications. The idea is to leverage your applications (CRM, ERP, SCM) and define an end-to-end efficient process that fills the whitespaces. Let the applications do what they are best at. Do not make unnatural customizations to COTS applications to fit your processes. Use BPM to bring application together and create custom processes. Any activity that is performed in BPM based application is auditable, efficient and enhances visibility across your business. Check out this demo that talks about using BPM to create efficient processes on top of your applications.

Wednesday Feb 06, 2013

Next Generation Application Development: BPM for Apps

Pre-built applications sound like the nirvana to removing the overhead of building from scratch. However as time progresses, customization of the applications and leveraging information beyond application silos is a huge overhead in itself. It requires skilled work, and lands up with brittle point-to-point integrations that are not supportive of human interactions. As organizations grow organically or through acquisitions, the IT infrastructure will have to factor in more pre-built and homegrown applications to the equation, making it that much harder to gain insight into information that spans application boundaries.

BPM for Applications is the answer to this problem. BPM can be used to create and automate processes across applications, modify these processes with ease and structure collaborative processes and tasks. In addition BPM can be used to orchestrate across multi-channel customer interactions and give insight into key performance metrics. The applications can continue to be upgraded and maintained independent of the BPM layer.

In addition, Oracle has a unique offering, Process Accelerators that can give you an edge to leveraging BPM for Apps. Oracle Process Accelerators are pre-built business processes that are product-level tested and ready for deployment straight out-of-the-box. And the best thing is they are free and ready for prime-time right now. It is easy to pick a pre-built Process Accelerator such as Internal Service Request or Employee On-boarding and have it read information across different application boundaries and feeding information into different silos. As the Process Accelerators get more specific per industry such as Loan Origination in Financial Services, it's easy to imagine the loan origination business process simply being customized to leverage specific applications to kick-start BPM for Apps. This allows the development of the next generation of dynamic applications that have the following advantages:

  • Designed for end-user customization 
  • Upgrade safe 
  • Deployed on-premise or in cloud 
  • Embedded Business Intelligence, collaboration and managed content 
  • Collaborative, intuitive multi-channel interface 
  • Adaptive platform to protect against technology shifts 
  • Standards-based, hot-pluggable architecture
Here is a webcast on this topic Extend Your Applications with Oracle BPM

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