Personalized and participatory business process

Photo: Marge BreyaMarge Breya of SAP forecasts how smart digital assets combined with the “process of me” present a compelling opportunity for business process management.

Interview conducted by Vinod Baya and Bo Parker

Marge Breya is executive vice president at SAP. Breya oversees the full product line for business intelligence (BI) and enterprise information management (EIM) solutions, as well the portfolio of SAP BusinessObjects OnDemand offerings. In addition, Breya is responsible for the portfolio and solution management of SAP NetWeaver within the Technology Group at SAP, leading the Business Solutions and Technology (BST) organization. Breya holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Oregon.

In this interview, Breya shares how personalization of process combined with business process management technology will extend the reach of process management technologies to user-centric processes.

PwC: As you look at business process management [BPM] in an enterprise, where are the interesting opportunities in the future?

MB: You can group processes in an enterprise into either system-centric or human-centric processes. Looking forward, the more interesting category is user-centric, because that’s where a large portion of the enterprise processes are and that’s where the adoption of new systems and technologies in the enterprise will succeed or fail. This is especially relevant for user-centric process management. I think everyone in an enterprise should be able to use a process management tool. That sets the bar for the usability of the tools. Today they are pretty easy to use, but when you’re putting in a human-centric step, how do you describe it so that everyone would want to use it?

PwC: What is it about BPM that makes it relevant in the human context?

MB: I believe there are two kinds of processes, and this also maps to what people do. There are the repeatable processes, where you’re driving out costs and you’re really trying to get efficiency, thereby minimizing the variance and improving the process.

Then there are the tasks that are largely done by humans. When I ask, “Bo, how do you do your job?” versus “Vinod, how do you do your job?” both of you could have the same job position, but you’re going to do your jobs differently. There’s an art associated with it, and so you have your own method of how to do something—meaning that across humans, the methods are highly variable. I believe that in addition to the enterprise processes, where technology has largely been focused, there is also the “process of me.” To me, there’s a missing piece—this user-defined workflow—in applications. That’s one of the things we’re working on right now.