In their own words...
Read on below for some quotes from the podcast.
[00:24] Teresa: I'm Teresa Resek, the Director of Marketing Intelligence Group and today, from AIIM we have Bob Larrivee, and we also have Neil Young from FlowForma. Bob is an internationally recognized subject matter expert and thought leader with over 30 years of experience in information and process management (...)
We also have with us Neil Young, and Neil is the CEO of FlowForma. FlowForma is the leading provider of Business Process Management tools for Office 365. Neil has spent a number of years driving FlowForma's SaaS business model and is passionate about revolutionizing the traditional BPM space to enable the business user to meet the needs of today's demanding digital workplace, all through an innovative no code approach. I'm very fascinated by this technology, I'm really looking forward to hearing about that. But first, I'm gonna turn things over to Bob to begin today.
[01:51] Bob Larrivee (AIIM): Well thank you Teresa and thank you Neil for joining us. I, too, am very fascinated with the whole concept of no code. For many, many years I've believed that the power should be placed in the hands of the users and people who make the decisions. And the concept of no code certainly does help us get there a lot faster, and a lot closer to where we should be. So, as Teresa mentioned I am Chief Analyst at AIIM and one of the things that the group does is a lot of research, and one of the things that we found, in our most recent research in relation to process automation, is that 81% of organizations recognize that modernizing their IM strategy is a must and they can't live in the days past, and we certainly can't work at the speed of paper anymore. Not just from a capture standpoint, but from processing standpoint. So we have to look at the realities of today and we have to modernize our strategies and infrastructure.
[03:07] Process Automation is actually one of the keys to this and one of the things that we found was 75% of the respondents said that process automation is a 'must-do' in their business models today. It's no longer a 'nice-to-have', they realized that they actually have to automate these business processes in order to be much more efficient, be much more consistent and that's something that I keep hearing over and over again, is that they're looking for consistency in their business processes. But also to gain tighter controls and insight into the business as well.
So, process automation is a must do in a business model. And this least to the idea of effectiveness - how effective are we operating as an organization? When we looked at this in relation of that survey, a majority of organizations feel that they do a fair job, notice I said 'fair', in managing their business processes effectively. So they understand 'yeah, we're okay at this', but they understand that there is a lot of room for improvement and a lot of areas that they could be much better in. And so, this leads to a question - what is this CIO supposed to do today, if they're facing these challenges of modernization, automation and effectiveness - how are they supposed go about doing this? And how do they do it in a way that's convulsive to a flexible business environment.
So agility is key, being able to respond to business requirements, changing regulatory requirements and so on. But at the same time, being much more impactful, I guess, when it comes to making changes and placing some of that power to change into the hands of the people who actually do the work. And at this point, I'm gonna call on Neil and Neil's gonna share with us how FlowForma has seen it and the idea of no code, or the ability to use no code approaches, really does have a positive impact on these businesses.
[05:37] Neil Young (FlowForma): Thanks Bob, hi everybody! Just to follow on form some of Bob's points about the CIO and what we're finding in the market place and when we deal with our customers on a daily basis, that role of the CIO is changing compared to 5 years ago. They now have a seat across the board, they now have a seat at the top table. And that's presenting different goals, it's more strategic goals that they're dealing with, they're working with their fellow C-level leaders in terms of addressing these goals in the business. So it's no longer seen as an operation cost-centric focus. Some of that still exists obviously, keeping the lights on, but it's also working around customer experience initiatives - how can they improve how they're interacting with customers on their day-to-day work. I think that's really shifting in terms of demands of the CIO.
[06:51] There is this phenomenon of 'coder crisis' - there is a global shortage. Every company today is becoming a software company, so you know they could be in the electronics business but they're now moving into software with IoT etc. So there's a huge demand for coders. There's still obviously talent coming through, that won't move away. But CIOs need other options, other viable options to deal with the coder crisis.
[07:20] Digital Transformation, we go back a few years again, we would have seen these new buzz words, this new terminology, but it's absolutely real today. And there are a couple of drivers here - one being the next generation of employees and staff that are coming in, very talented. And you see that they expect everything to be digital. They don't understand why your invoices and contracts might still exists through the post or physical copies of contracts. They assume everything should be digitized, they're just so used to everything being digital, and also they expect everything to be on their mobile phones. So you're dealing with the next generation of workers, and you're also dealing with customer demands. So dealing with time to value on projects and solutions and what customers are expecting, let alone what your internal staff are demanding.
[08:21] They're the challenges, when we speak to CIOs, that's why they're liking the approach with no code, like in our solution. I heard a great phrase a few weeks back about consumerization of IT - it's very much becoming the future, where technologies are becoming more consumerized, so they can be dealt with by the business users and the next generation of staff coming into the organization.
So, you know, how does FlowForma itself help with these challenges? When we came up with the original idea, we would have been very much around empowering the business analyst. And now we're seeing that as empowering the business user, reducing that coder demand. And what you'll find with technology is they co-exist, so this is not about 'rip and replace' against other technologies that exist in the organization, such as CRM, ERP toolsets, that are providing very strong solutions for the business. But it's about augmenting that and adding to that. When you think of gaps in apps within those technology platforms, it's what technologies such us ourselves can bring to the table and reduce that coder demand and empower the business.
And also what we find, the business knows the process better. So they understand what they need to solve, so let's arm them with the tools and allow IT and CIO to provide governance, training, advice and integration capabilities. And that's what we have seen, we have worked for very progressive IT Directors, IT Managers, CIOs, they realize the demands are very strong and how can they connect better with the business audience. And if you see the demand and you keep those demands just within IT then a backlog will be just too severe to deal with. That's how we're helping today.
[10:28] In terms of Digital Transformation and the different types of solutions, we tend to categorize them to help our customers deal with the challenges that they receive, we categorize them into three buckets:
Everyday processes: IT, Finance HR forms - admin with organization. They are internally focused, they can be dealt with quite quickly. Couple of hours, we seen some people built out those processes and get them live.
Organizational specific processes: in your industry and in your business process that exist that may already be managed, but could be through spreadsheets, emails, moving around the organizations. How can you solve those process problems, because you're realizing someone's not there for two weeks and there's a gap. On a larger scale that can have huge ramifications. That's another level that we look to solve and as you move up this spectrum, you're achieving more ROI and having more of an impact on Digital Transformation strategy
CX (Customer Experience) Impact processes: extending processes that are internal with their external customers, and connecting that seamlessly with their customers, suppliers, what have you. That's really advancing the digital process transformation.
And in terms of getting the time to value, what we find with these types of technologies - you want an onboarding program, you can't call out no code and then offer a large volume of consultancy days to get people working with the product. It has to be low volume of training, so we very much engage with customers around, what we call, our SureStart program, which is onboarding very quickly.
Pick a process, get them onboarded with the process into their company, but also at the same time give them learning resources, give them implementation advise and after we go live we'll also provide advise as well. But it's all about getting that quick time to value, and enabling that end customer with the no code technologies. You talk about waterfall, you talk about agile, we talk about test and learn delivery, and keep refining so there's no time boxes, there's no constraints, but keep refining your process with the audience and move it into live.
[13:08] By all means, take a trial and there's a guided tour there. You can request a deeper demo, we can help you with that. We're also featured in the latest Forrester reports, you can request your free copy of that. Appreciate everybody listening today and now I'll hand back to Bob for some questions.
[13:32] Bob: Thank you very much, that was really enlightening, I gotta tell ya. So, we do have a couple of questions Neil. First one, and this is kind of an interesting one, because we all know that Office 365 is out there and, you know, Microsoft is kind of everywhere. This questions says - we have Office 365, is onboarding FlowForma product simple?
[14:02] Neil: Yeah, so effectively it's a 3 to 5 day exercise and we typically bring customers through that over the space of time that works with them. So that might be over 4 weeks, could be over 2 weeks. But typically it's around 4-8 weeks. It lets them go over it, lets them get back with any questions. But from a working day perspective, it's 3 to 5 days.
[14:34] Bob: The other question that I have is, I like the idea of enabling the external people to participate in our processes - is that a big project to undertake?
[14:49] Neil: We had a recent deployment of our Customer Experience platform, which is the external- facing version of the product, within 3 weeks, including the process. And effectively, there's already a secure connection feature, so what happens is we spin up another environment and we place the public facing version of the process on that, and they have the existing process internally. We did that for a customer recently within 3 weeks. They already had the existing internal process, but security and all those areas are covered.
[15:33] Bob: That's awesome. There's a term that you used a little bit earlier and your answers to these questions are certainly addressing that, you used the term ''filling the gaps in the apps''. I really love that terms. It's exactly what you're describing - you're filling in those holes, you're helping people fill in those gaps in the apps. The final question that I'm gonna give, because we're getting close here. This one reads - do you need to have any technical skills to automate and deploy processes within FlowForma?
[16:11] Neil: So, no is the short answer and slightly longer answer is: we like to connect to IT to make sure the applications are governed, but that's all dependent on the customer's requirements. One of the key areas is the Security Wizard, essentially IT may have created a site in SharePoint and they're happy for the business user to go and work away and build out their HR processes for example, and FlowForma would allow the user to test, learn, deploy and roll out the processes. We always like to connect with IT and I think that's advisable, and that they're there to govern, but that may be just providing a site. So, absolutely it is designed for business users, and that's the premise of the product.
[17:06] Bob: And you're right, keeping IT engaged is very important. It's really a team effort, right? It comes down to being a team. Well, thank you very much Neil.
[18:04] Teresa: as we bring this to a close, I'd just like to ask speakers for a closing thought or key takeaway. Let me start first with Bob Larrivee from AIIM - your closing thought?
[18:13] Bob: thank you Teresa and thank everybody for being with us. I think, what we've learned here today is that the reality is that it is possible to help transform business processes without the need for extreme technical skills. You know, as Neil pointed out, we should have IT involved, of course, but putting the power back in the hands of the users, this is something that's really important to businesses today, in order to keep their flexibility and agility that they need in order to respond to customer requests and enhancing the customer experience. So I encourage everybody to check out this whole no code approach.
[18:57] Teresa: Thank you Bob, and Neil Young from FlowForma - your closing thoughts for today?
[19:02] Neil: To add to Bob's point there, I think if you look at the coder crisis, and maybe a crisis is coming across a bit extreme, but it is something that is viable there and we are seeing technologies across the board around consumerization of IT, and it's becoming a reality. I think it's the right approach to add them to the technology stack within the companies. So just seeing what fits, but it's a reality and the technologies are there today to deal with that. That's my closing view.