Digital Business Automation as a Lifestyle with Mike Lim, IBM’s Global Acquisition Leader

Digital Business Automation as a Lifestyle with Mike Lim, IBM’s Global Acquisition Leader

Published By : Cydney McCollum September 13, 2022

Digital Business Automation as a Lifestyle with Mike Lim, IBM’s Global Acquisition Leader


On this episode of Bots & Thoughts, our host, Jimmy Hewitt sits down with IBM’s Global Acquisition Leader, Michael Lim, to discuss his experience in the #Digital Business Automation space, focusing specifically in on the Process Mining world. They discuss the IBM Process Mining Acquisition that Lim made last year and more. This is an episode you do not want to miss!

Watch Episode 12 interview now!

Follow along with the episode now!

Guest Background: Michael “Mike” Lim, Global Sales Acquisition Leader, Data, AI & Automation, at IBM
  • Work with acquisitions on the software side of IBM’s automation portfolio
  • Been in the Digital Business Automation space for 20+ years
  • Most of career has been with software companies to build technologies that help people embrace automation
  • Been involved with services projects as well

A Thought Leader:

Advised vendors on building Digital Business Automation solutions

Find automation technology to be very rewarding

Gets to see the fruit of how it transforms businesses and organizations

Worked with workflow for most of career


Digital Business Automation


  • Technologies that help deliver work to people or systems to get a business outcome
  • Business process management
  • Orchestration
  • Matured overtime:
    • Used to be really code driven based
    • Wrote code to describe how work was triggered already
  • New standard: Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN)
    • Wanted a unified standard to do interchange and describe execution of workflow application or solution
BPMN: focuses on 3 aspects of workflow
  • 1. Allows you to describe what the workflow tool or the business process manager tool is trying to understand or what it is trying to do
  • 2. Gives you the ability to analyze and do “what if?” scenarios on models and ensure that it is optimal
  • 3. You can build applications and solutions


Managing by Control vs Managing by Exception:
  • Managing by Control: manage what you understand and anticipate what is going to happen
    • Example: What is status of project, when will it be done, do you need help, etc.?
  • Managing by Exception: manage what you don’t anticipate happening
    • Example: Onboarding 1,000 employees a year but only managing several that need assistance with the onboarding process
    • The market and world are changing so rapidly, so you must handle the exceptions that come up by adjusting and adapting
    • Fix the problem, don’t use duct tape
    • New low code, no code technologies and managing your business processes with a workflow management platform make it easier for a businessperson to make adjustment then to require heavy duty technical resources
Process Mining Acquisition Drivers:
  • 1. Dynamic changes in the market:

    • Pandemic: Following the COVID-19 Pandemic, the need to drive business in a digital manner was explosive
    • Digitization:
      • If data is on paper, it becomes stale
      • When you digitize it, the data comes alive and can give guidance and navigation on what customers want
    • Processes: The processes that companies were running their business on were not designed for working from home
      • Companies struggled to find what parts of their business processes they needed to change or adapt to the new way of work
  • Consulting Costs & Time:
    • Before Process Mining: Hire a big global systems integrator to come into your company, do a whole analysis of your business, and form a report
      • Cost thousands to millions of dollars to do
      • Needed to do this is a short amount of time to find where adjustments needed to be made to adapt to the new normal following the pandemic
      • Only way to do this is to look at log files that were driving the company to give them visibility into how the organization operates
    • With Process Mining:
      • Technology looks at how businesses operate
      • Looks like a management consulting firm and gives you visualizations to see how your business run, but without the time and costs of a firm
    • Use Case: Onboarding
      • 9,  times out of 10 C level executives don’t know how their customer onboarding processes work
      • Lim looked at the logs of the customer onboarding process and showed them a picture
      • If 80% of processes work this way, then 20% has derivations of the process
      • Manage the 20% by exception
      • No longer have to look at 100% of the processes, they only need to focus on the 20%
  • 2. Prioritization:

    • Many customers buy a lot of technology and then don’t know how to apply it first, second, and third because they do not have visibility in the overall business process
    • Process Mining helps prioritize technology, Digital Business Automation, or digital transformation projects based on what is going to give them the most value upfront
Process Mining Technology:
  • Retrieve log files and import them into process mining platform and you will receive a process model
  • Digital exhaust: every application has log files of the chronological order of what actions were taken, by who, at what time, and what the actions was not
  • Based on the data from log files, it will start building up a picture of what happened in a process or department
  • Will only generate the pictures where you have log files (using a computer)
    • However, can go in and fine tune an activity that isn’t in the picture where you were not using a computer
    • Example: technician of cable company driving to a site
Process Discovery: Process Mapping and Process Mining

You should use both technologies

  • You must have a baseline understanding why derivations exist
  • Discovery allows you to interact and understand the current processes and what you think the process should be


Can compare actual data to the reference model you created (for example, in Blueworks Live) and revalidate what is truly happening

Process mapping and process mining are best used together


The two tools are more complimentary than competitive

Lim’s Favorite Use Case: Department of Justice

Project: building out the business process model for how a bill becomes a law

  • Interviewed the process, understood everything that happened in the process, and then built it into an application
  • Government was embracing process modeling to define the process
  • Built some of the early workflow applications that managed the process


  • Using blockchain to connect companies who are process mining together who are process mining and work to look at the whole interconnected process between companies
  • Companies working together and optimizing supply chains ==to drive value holistically
Digital Business Automation & Process Mining Reminders:
  • Lifestyle change: Digital Business Automation is a program, similar to a lifestyle change

    • It is about marking the health of your company and ensuring that you are always going to understand how the market impact will dynamically change how your business should operate overtime
    • There is no end to a Digital Business Automation implement using agile, different aspects of automation in the business and as the market changes, you want to analyze if you are still seeing value from what you implemented or if you need to pivot or adjust
    • According to Lim, most of the failures in automation is when companies implement automation as a finite project and then they have no ability to add in controls to adjust for change.
    • You do not get 100% of the benefit from the first project, you get it as it evolves over time and as the business is evolving overtime
    • Digital Business Automation is not a sprint it’s a marathon
    • Must ensure your business is resilient when there is change
      • Pandemic was a wakeup call
    • The degree of how companies apply automation and where they apply it will be determined based on the individual projects, wins, process mining, etc. for proof of concepts
  • Process Mining: Use Process Mining to determine what project to do first

Look at all the potential opportunities from Process Mining that you have that could be automation candidates (Example: RPA project that could go in and digitize some of the workload that humans are doing)

Low-hanging fruit = Proof of Concept



Process Mining will help you run simulations to help you prioritize all the opportunities

Start small, but know it it’s incremental

Digital Business Automation drivers:
  • 1. Great resignation: lack of workers, high rate of retirees
  • 2. Value of work: paycheck is not enough for the millennial generation, they want to do meaningful, valuable work
  • Technology (example: Task Mining) can start recording actions and how people do work, and technology is going to start learning and digitizing those skills and making them available as a knowledge repository
  • Humans are going to be much more focused on the critical thinking of how to apply the skills learned and focus on higher-value work
    • While people retire, companies will be able to reap and keep the skills that employees are performing
  • BPMN Standard focuses on 3 aspects of workflow:
    • 1. Allows you to describe what the workflow tool trying to understand or do
    • 2. Gives you the ability to analyze and optimize
    • 3. Helps build applications and solutions
  • Drivers of why process mining for IBM was important:
    • 1. Wanted to make sure customers were ready for the dynamic changes of the business in the market
    • 2. When companies have a list of projects, how do they prioritize it to what’s going to give them the best value form their investments
  • Process Discovery: Process mapping and process mining are best used together
  • Advice: don’t think of Digital Business Automation as a project, think of it as a lifestyle change
    • Need agreement at the executive level
    • Make sure your company is healthy and resilient with change
  • Process Mining: the tool to help your company understand which automation to implement first
  • Three things that keep people motivated to stay at work: from Mike Lim
    • 1. Need to have fun, love, and enjoy what you do
    • 2. Need the ability to innovate
    • 3. Salary
  • What is preventing the balance of these three points is the repetitive, mundane work that people have to do that automation can do instead
  • Up to 40% of employee work is repetitive
  • Need technology to augment the repetitive tasks
  • We’re in the age of the employee now where we need to focus on employees and making sure that they have meaningfulness and purpose in their companies
    • They will continuously bring a fresh mind and fresh view to your company without being held down with mundane work
Watch Episode 12 Interview with MIKE LIM Now

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More on Digital Business Automation:

Digital Business Automation Home Page

What is Digital Business Automation?

Scaling Beyond RPA to Digital Business Automation

North Star Methodology

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Bots & Thoughts: The Digital Business Automation Podcast

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