Business process fusion is the transformation of business activities that is achieved by integrating previously autonomous business processes to create a new scope-of-management capabilities.
Posted Jan 19, 2004
Just as CRM seemed to be losing steam in many firms, a new kind of software emerged in 2003 that is cross-functional and aimed at end-to-end processes while building on the framework put in place by CRM. Gartner calls these new applications business process fusion, and defines it as the transformation of business activities that is achieved by integrating previously autonomous business processes to create a new scope-of-management capabilities.
Traditionally CRM is seen as a way to reduce costs by automating business processes. That caused many firms to invest in CRM to do what they were always doing, but now do it more quickly. Because of this, many firms feel they have gotten little value from investments like CRM.
This situation leaves CRM often having only a marginal impact on the overall capability of the business. The challenge for these investments going forward is to offer the means to extend business capabilities. By building on the maturing capabilities of system integration and system access technologies, business process fusion supports the creation of new customer processes that increase the speed and flow of information to enable planning, optimization, simulation, and other performance-management activities on a broad scale. In addition, they still are focused on doing a better job of meeting customer needs. The result is applications that offer value by extending business capabilities, not merely by automating what already exists.
Business process fusion is not just a new buzzword. It is being driven by:
o the ongoing need to create the real-time enterprise to support the continuously changing needs of customers;
o enterprise transparency, which is required by new regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley;
o meeting the internal and external demands of information that are not delivered by traditional applications in areas like CRM, supply chain management, and ERP;
o the reemergence of business process analysis/design, which is critical for enterprises attempting to exploit end-to-end processing capabilities internally and across the extended enterprise of customers, partners, and regulators.
What makes business process fusion achievable is a combination of two factors. First, enterprises have invested in CRM that can capture core transactional data. A precondition for fusion is the existence of systems that support its component processes--fusion can't start from nothing. Second, software platforms and architectures that span the traditional application silos and processing styles have emerged. Infrastructure and application vendors are creating comprehensive software platforms with capabilities ranging from transactions to content management, from data analytics to Web conferencing.
What makes business process fusion necessary is the risk, and in some cases, the pressing reality of a competitor that has successfully transformed its core processes. Several enterprises are opting for revolutionary change, and their competitors are being forced to emulate them. Because survival is at stake, cost becomes a secondary consideration.
The business value of business process fusion
Firms will see the following benefits of business process fusion:
1. Costs will decline and profitability will increase because of greater efficiencies, visibility and control.
2. It will combine activities that previously required independent systems.
3. It will provide visibility and control of those combined functions at the operational level and for management purposes.
4. It will allow for business processes to be modified without disrupting the supporting IT systems.
Business process fusion is the next stage in how CRM will be developed, delivered, and deployed to achieve business value. Enterprises that recognize this discontinuity will be positioned to achieve a new order of value from their CRM investments.
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