Lippis Report Issue 86: Communications-Enabled Business Processes (CEBP): An Outlook

In this Lippis Report we explore the emerging market for Communications- Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) and provide an outlook. Late last summer the IP telephony industry accelerated its software focus with the Unified Communications and CEBP initiatives and offerings from all major suppliers. Unified Communications is in essence a single launch point or portal to gain access to multiple communication applications with tools such as click-to-call, instant messaging, click-to-conferencing, and many others. CEBP injects communications into business process in order to reduce human and system delay, hoping to speed workflow and increase the response of an organization to business events. Unified Communications is being delivered to market via packaged software and massive distribution channels thanks to Microsoft and IBM. CEBP is different. Each enterprise will have a unique entry point for CEBP based upon their process improvement priorities, funding, and project business case strength. CEBP, by definition is a custom project. There are business process modeling consulting organizations, which are today´s efficiency engineers, working through business process to save an organization time and money. But CEBP promises to be much more; it promises to deliver a new kind of agile and competitive organization that can respond to business events quickly, satisfy customers more deeply, and in the process create competitive barriers of entry. We explore these hopes and promises and provide an outlook for the CEBP market.

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There are tremendous opportunities for companies who analyze innovative communications technology like CEBP as it presents a new paradigm for business communications. CEBP promises to contribute to better corporate decision making by inserting human decision making at the right time with the right people and providing the right context to decision makers through multi-channel communications.

Which industries will gain the most from CEBP in the short and the long term?

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Industries in which business processes are most sensitive to time will benefit from CEBP in the short term. For example, financial service organizations need to respond quickly to market and world events; thus CEBP could have a large impact on this industry. Health care is another industry sector which possesses a strong need to react quickly to events such as the ?¢‚Ǩ?ìcode blue" protocol and would benefit from linking communications, instrumentation, patient and medical staff records to address life threatening scenarios quickly. In the long term manufacturing could leverage CEBP to hasten workflow and improve prediction processes.

CEBP Adds Value To the Value Chain

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In addition to workflow delay reduction, inter-industry collaboration will also play a role in CEBP adoption. For example, manufacturing, retail and transportation logistics have linked value chains and/or value networks. CEBP solutions implemented across multiple enterprises hope to improve the value chain for corporations, their partners and suppliers enabling quicker response to market demands and needs. From a communications perspective, collaboration becomes possible at a much deeper level between enterprise in a common value chain, thus creating tighter integration and greater value.

CEBP Packaged or Custom Solution?

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One of the key questions to answer is how will CEBP be brought to market? Will CEBP be implemented at the pace of one consulting engagement at a time or are there pre-packaged solutions and distribution channels that will speed its deployment and economic benefits. Ultimately, CEBP solutions need to be pre-packaged, or at least 80-90% pre-defined and pre-integrated via templated solutions.

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CEBP can be pre-packaged. Many software providers such as Avaya, Siemens, Cisco, Microsoft, et al., are working in this direction on a number of fronts. There will always be a percentage of custom engagements. It is often custom engagements that spark new innovation in a process area or in a given industry workflow. But ultimately what enterprises want are pre-packaged solutions that they can wrap business value propositions around. This is of value for both consultants/system integrators and vendors. Templated or pre-packaged CEBP can be delivered to market through mainstream sales channels. These pre-packaged solutions are not always entirely complete, but could be between 80-90% of a complete solution. The remaining 10 to 20% of the solution is customized for each corporation. CEBP will be a multi-vendor solution with pre-integration packaging. By pre-integration I mean a package that contains adaptors and the ability to resolve web services interoperability with metadata, etc.

It´s important to have a pre-packaged solution that can be easily deployed in an enterprise environment, which brings many benefits. Corporations will look at CEBP to decrease their decision making time and increase their productivity. For CEBP to be successful it needs to be pre-packaged. Clearly there will be different packaging based on industries. A service provider will purchase and implement a different CEBP package than will a financial services company, for example.

Who will bring CEBP to market?

System integrators, consultants and vendors all will bring CEBP solutions to market. IP telephony equipment suppliers will all be offering CEBP solutions as CEBP will be tightly linked with their infrastructure evolution. In particular, IP telephony suppliers will be providing services and products along their core competency in addition to CEBP middleware solutions specific to communications infrastructure and how that evolves to support CEBP.

What´s the Time Frame for CEBP Deployment?

Is CEBP a 2008, 2009, 2010 market event or even later? Or is this something that companies can start deploying now? If enterprises see the value and want to start implementation how can they get started?

For all practical purposes CEBP looks like a 2008 early adopter time frame although there are pilot implementations occurring now. Financial services and health care are two early adopter industries which are great candidates for early adopting pre-packaged solutions that many IP telephony providers will be bringing to market in 2008. In terms of mainstream adoption, the later part of 2009 and beyond seems to be the industry consensus primarily due to a lag in supportive CEBP solutions such as service oriented architecture (SOA) or event-driven architecture software. The next wave of business process, management, workflow tools, etc., all need to be coming together while the groupings of these technologies offer a solid foundation for CEBP offerings.

Will CEBP have a Large or Small Impact on Corporate Productivity and the Global Economy?

The internet is a large efficiency change agent. The internet basically looked for inefficiency in business and personal process and attacked it. Can CEBP be a change agent for the global economy by increasing productivity at either the same level as the internet or as other IT projects did in the mid to late 1990s? While it is too early to predict the magnitude of CEBP´s contribution, it is a change agent, however. Business and IT leaders need to experience CEBP as it delivers on its promise of new types of applications and capabilities which leverage their converged network investments. It´s the realization of gaining business value through integration strength offered by a converged network, information infrastructure, event driven processes, and SOA programming. All these IT components are coming together and investments that are being made across these areas will benefit by CEBP implementations. If the industry can get CEBP right so that it´s relatively easy to deploy and gain its value then CEBP could be the next productivity growth change agent. Stay tuned.

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