From a speech given by Barry Briggs:
In many ways business process is by far the most important and valuable form of collaboration since while e-mail, instant messaging, and shared workspaces facilitate communication, business process achieves business goals. When a customer buys something on the web site, a process is set in motion which at its conclusion results in the customer receiving goods and the enterprise, money.
I believe that where the eighties were known as the decade of productivity applications — spreadsheets, word processors, and so on, the nineties as the decade of email and the Internet, this decade, starting now (isn’t it interesting that software waves start around the middle of the chronological decade), will be the Decade of Process.
Process, simply, is defined as that set of steps which must happen, with greater or lesser rigor, in some sequence in order to achieve a business goal. Mortgage approvals, funds transfers, performance reviews and so on are all examples of processes, and it’s clear that nearly everything we do in business corresponds to some sort of process. Customers call and we have to react; we run out of inventory and we have to order more; and so forth.
A subsequent blog post by Barry adds: “Every business document is an artifact of a business process — but we have yet to build a product that treats them that way.”