The Real-Time Enterprise's Barriers

There are several barriers to the real-time enterprise, both technological and cultural, according to the latest research from Gartner. To surmount these obstacles organizations need to be able to properly fuse business processes to enable real-time operations. "Business process fusion is the mechanism that will most quickly get the right information to the right people at the right time, and also allow them to distribute the right commands back into the enterprise," says Michael Gerrard, a vice president at Gartner. Gartner defines business process fusion (BFP) as the transformation of business activities achieved by integrating previously autonomous business processes. (For more information, read "The Next Hot Business Strategy".) As Gerrard explains, BFP allows for greater efficiencies, because it does not take a departmental approach. Rather, it takes a holistic approach to speeding up business processes. "You have to stand back and optimize the core processes of the businesses," he explains. Though BPF may be a key enabler of the real-timer enterprise, there can be pitfalls involved with fusing major business processes. "The biggest issue is not the technology involved; the biggest barrier is changing the organization from seeing itself as a collection of functions to seeing the business as a horizontal process," Gerrard says. "Each department in a large company usually has its own culture, and when you create a new entity you cannot think about those old departments the same or manage the personnel the same." Other barriers to going real-time identified by recent Gartner research include lack of funding, inability of business management to visualize how the real-time enterprise would improve financial performance, lack of senior management understanding, and business management's inability to visualize how the real-time enterprise could affect market performance. "The challenge is on business managers who are reluctant to change, to really visualize how concepts like business process fusion can benefit the enterprise," Gerrard says. "Focus on the business model and key business processes, and how changes in the speed and dynamics of these processes can have significant--even transformational--effects." However, these barriers have not stopped businesses from attempting to go real-time. According to a recent Gartner survey of 100 companies, 87 percent of respondents said that they have projects underway to improve the speed of business processes, 49 percent expect to have similar projects underway during the next 12 months, and 40 percent will during the next 13 to 24 months. "Clearly, business process efficiency and speed are already widely regarded as important investment opportunities, especially because 90 percent of the respondents believe that improving the speed of processes is important to their companies' success," Gerrard says.
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