This growth in percentage of GDP from services has demanded that companies in the service sector start to work better. As the available talent pool has become more fully consumed, and therefore more expensive, companies have looked to outsource or offshore their relocatable operations, to try and reduce costs and enable further growth.
The use of automation and more streamlined processes, although used by companies for their critical processes (the ones they would not want to push offshore), has not really seen the increased adoption that would be expected. Office-based workers are still trapped with productivity tools such as Word, Excel and Outlook, which are really anti-productivity tools for many but those really needing to be creative of communicate in an ad-hoc manner. Business process management (BPM) has seen a growth, though I expect nothing like the explosion Forrester forecast in 2008: $1.6B in 2006, growing to $6.3B by 2011 (source: Workflow Blog).
Why is this? Companies have focused their efforts on complex, critical, expensive, and probably poorly performing processes first. Nothing like jumping in with both feet when trying to get some experience in a new world of technology. This has left some companies with expensive investments in software that actually is a poor fit for virtually everything else they do. And BPM vendors have grown the market by constantly adding new components into the definition of the BPM Suite (BPMS), so customers feel they have to buy more stuff to do really the same thing.
I still firmly believe that it is time for an easier way to implement business processes, critical or not. Every new process should only take days, not months, to implement and should not require 10's or 100's thousands of dollars of software to do it. Once companies have experienced the 'fast and easy' approach, outsourcing and offshoring will not seem so appealing, and neither will complex software development style BPM projects.