The current Debate channel theme on CIO UK is business process management (BPM). A topic I was reticent to commit to, but our editorial partners MWD, are big believers in the subject. It's the an acronym that cools my interest, but a recent telephone conference involving MWD, former DTZ CIO Duncan Scott and IT manager for transport parts company ZF changed my view completely.
Discussing BPM with Scott and Roger Scholes of ZF and a following conversation with the CIO of Irish Life, has made me aware of the critical business role a BPM project plays, and just how critical the CIO and technology are in BPM. This is in some ways obvious; technology is the kernel of change in all organisations. But discussing BPM with the three CIOs revealed the human and business side to the subject.
Forrester presented to attendees of their European event last year that the business ambitions of the CIO and the CEO are identical, or at least should be. Both are working towards efficiency, increased margins, new markets and an improved product. BPM is about achieving this. A good BPM project is where technology is used to achieve these targets; therefore the CIO is driving business change.
Using technology to change the business processes internally is not only about introducing SAP, former Starbucks CIO Chris Bruzzo created MyStarbucksIdea to solicit business improvement ideas from the most important people in any business, the customers. Having captured a wealth of ideas, some good, some wacky, Bruzzo is quoted in Jeff Jarvis' book What Would Google Do for carrying out a BPM project to do as his customers asked: "We're truly going to adopt it into our business process, into product development, experience development and store design."
In short BPM is probably the most business focussed thing a CIO can be at the head of. Throughout my tenure at CIO we have heard "experts" talk of why the CIO doesn't move up into the CEO role, but BPM projects are surely the ideal pitch from which a CIO can demonstrate their credentials for being the CEO. Perhaps CIOs are overlooked because of their IT background, or because they lack the ego of marketing types or the bluster of sales.
But BPM gives CIOs the opportunity to communicate across the entire organisation, to reshape the entire organisation, to improve the business and improve revenues. The latter often being seen as something IT people don't always deliver.