Pega 2011 Business Process Symposium (Melbourne)

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I attended the Pega Business Process Symposium today in Melbourne, which had quite an impressive turnout considering it was the inaugural holding in Melbourne. The large turnout  –  there must have been close to 100 people there –  is indicative of the traction that Pega has made in recent times in the Australian market.

Other than the excellent attendees (including myself), the event was well organised, and I liked the fact that it was a morning event, and they hadn’t tried to stretch it out too much. It did have a sales pitch feeling, but I guess that is fair enough considering it was a Pega event. Here is my brief summary of the day:

Luke McCormack was the host and introduced the day, gave some insight into what Pega was doing in Asia Pacific, and re-enforced the Pega ‘Build for Change’ mantra.  Following a brief recorded message from the CEO, there were a number of presentations.

Business Transformation through BPM Suites –  Setrag Khoshafian. Well Setrag was certainly pumped up for this, and he gave a very (sometimes overly) enthusiastic presentation on the Pega BPMS. As always, I thought a bit more time could be spent on how to establish a BPM approach, rather then focusing on the tools. However, there were some points that resonated around the Pega BPMS offering. In particular the need for a toolset to support delivering agility in change. The promise of reduced cost of change is something that is touted by all the vendors, but reality is often very different to what is being sold. The Pega frameworks and implementation methodology have focussed on this over recent years. Simple things like the Pega versioning and unit testing frameworks really assist in delivering change with more confidence. The project management frameworks are a great example of Pega eating their own dog-food, using PRPC based processes and rules to manage BPMS implementation projects.

And having a single platform with all components included does simplify things. This is not always ideal or even practical, but having real business rules support within the BPMS is powerful and keeps it simple. And lets face it business rules and business process are closely related and aligned.

Overall Setrag claims IT productivity increases of between 2 to > 10 greater productivity (greater than OO development) based on some Pega sponsored research. I am not quite sure about the validity of this, not having seen the research, but interesting none the less.

CRM –  Rapidly Transform Your Customer Experience –  Steve Kraus. The focus is apparently on improving Pega’s business analytics and real-time intelligence. A lot of this presentation was an overview of the Pega CPM modules. Which I do like. The CPM framework is simple, but contains all of the key features of a call-centre focussed CRM. Having a CRM based on the same platform as the processing platfrom used by the back office is something that I like. I may blog about this in the future, and this was also highlighted by Forrester’s William Band in his blog ‘The Top Twelve Customer Management Trends For 2011’ ( Having processes initiated by the front office using the same processes (albeit tailored for the interaction) and platform as the back office keeps it simple, allows for reduction in hand-off points and breakdowns, and allows better insight into the full process. It is not an all singing and dancing CRM, but it does have the features required for the call centre and keep the overall solution simple.

Pega Never Looked so Good –  WesFarmers (Mike Efron). I was really looking forward to some insight into the use of the Pega Internet Application Composer. Extending processes to the customer or third-parties self-service channels often hits hurdles with either fit into an overall enterprise architecture or the fit for purpose of ‘generated’ user interfaces (as Mike said for UI design, ‘good enough isn’t’). This normally results in costs or timeframes that erode the original business case or intent of the process improvement opportunity in the first place. However, Mike’s presentation was more focussed on the challenges for bringing a new, white-labelled insurance product into a well established market. This was interesting in itself, but not what I was hoping for. Reading between the lines, I got that Pega worked well for this model as:

  1. The pega rule inheritance model more easily supports having to white-label in this way. Small differences between user interface, process, and product can be approached in a layered and structure way, without having to re-design or re-write for small differences in the product between brands.
  2. The Internet Application Composer was able to produce user interface portlets that were suitable for retail consumer consumption, without compromising on the user experience or look and feel.

Unfortunately, I missed the last session of the morning on Pega’s adaptive case management solution. It probably was the session that I would have liked to have seen the most. However, unfortunately, I had to get some processes designed for a client, and sometimes work has to come first.

All in all, it was a worthwhile event to attend. I would have like to have seen more of a focus on continual improvement, and what BPM is really about. But it did give some useful insight into where Pega was, and what their focus is on in the coming periods.