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Part 1 of 3

In this 3 part series, I will explain BIG processes, challenges posed by BIG processes and how SAP Operational Process Intelligence, powered by SAP HANA (sapopint) helps to overcome these challenges. In this blog (part 1), I will explain BIG processes, show examples of BIG processes in different industries and explain the challenges posed by BIG processes. In part 2, I will explain how the BIG process challenges can be overcome by using SAP Operational Process Intelligence and using the power of SAP HANA. In part 3, I will explain the capabilities of SAP Operational Process Intelligence and how you can get started in your quest to tame BIG processes.

So what are BIG processes?

Next generation of business process management is moving beyond automating structured workflows into the realm of true end-to-end process management that crosses departmental and even organizational boundaries, with a focused goal on creating value for customers. This is the world of "BIG processes".

Technically, BIG processes span multiple technical systems, packaged applications (such as SAP ERP, CRM etc.) , BPM platforms (such as NetWeaver BPM), ESBs (enterprise service bus such as NetWeaver PI), operational systems (such as web servers, manufacturing systems, telecom provisioning systems etc.).  BIG processes generate high volumes of  structured, unstructured process data as well as machine data.

Organizationally, BIG processes span across multiple departments and several process participants who collaborate to fulfill customer requests and create value. BIG processes have a strong impact on customer satisfaction and determine customer loyalty. BIG processes are typically high-value processes for companies and have to be managed effectively. BIG processes are found in several industries (see image below).

What are the typical challenges that BIG processes pose to companies?

1. Lack of Visibility: BIG processes borrow the 4 V´s of BIG data, characteristics such as:

volume: large volumes of data (e.g. replenishment requests in a retail chain from all the retail outlets, parcel tracking in a logistics company etc.)

velocity: streaming data coming in at high velocity (e.g. clickstream data for real-time offer management, machine data from shop floor sensors)

variety: structured, semi-structured and unstructured data

veracity: accurate process data that business users can trust and act upon (no false positives or false negatives)

In addition, BIG processes bring in a new dimension, the 5th ´V´ - visibility. End-to-end process visibility is a challenge that BIG processes pose due to heterogeneous IT systems and several process participants. Some of the questions for end-users are: Where do I stand in the process, where do I go next, what are my next best actions?

How can we create process visibility in BIG processes that are not managed in a single database (packaged applications) or where all process steps are under the control of a single business process management system (BPMS) without ripping and replacing the processes or bringing them under the ambit of one BPMS system?

2. Lack of context: Line-of-business users and business departments want to achieve successful business outcomes and meet goals. They understand business processes, not IT or system views of the process. While working in BIG processes, line-of-business users want a business navigation system that provide 360 degree real-time visibility into the processes in the "process of me", that encompasses the true needs of individuals working in business processes. Business users don´t care about technical stovepipes, but rather prefer a panoramic view of their business processes so they can sense and respond to situations in real-time as they emerge.

3. Latency: As BIG processes span multiple systems, latency to collect the process-related information from these multiple systems, latency to process them and present them to line-of-business users as insights have a direct impact on time-to-decisions.

Why Business Warehouses and reporting solutions are NOT the answer?

A business warehouse and reporting solutions can solve some of the challenges, but not so convincingly due to latency issues. A business warehouse will provide reports on what happened in the past, while such reports support tactical business decisions they don´t help to improve operational responsiveness. e.g. they don´t help customer service representatives to answer a customer on the phone on where their orders are. BW reports don´t tell what is happening now or predict what will happen in the future.  For example consider a customer on-boarding process in telecom Activating a new GSM SIM card in 24-hours, latency could have negative impacts on resolving issues as they happen.

In part 2 of this blog series, I will explain how the challenges posed by BIG processes can be overcome by using SAP Operational Process Intelligence, powered by SAP HANA.

Read more about sapopint SAP Operational Process Intelligence here.