Adaptive, Dynamic, Social: Can these three emerging BPM concepts become unified ?

With interest levels quite high in BPM and Case Management right now, can the three areas where all the attention is being focused on, namely Adaptive Case Management, Dynamic Process and Social BPM co-exist or indeed merge to become one concept entirely ? Are they really that different ? If we look at the simple core of each there is common ground.

Under Social BPM, process management becomes a social and collaborative effort, sped up by rapid interaction between people, the connections and enterprise community supported by software which in itself is an artefact of being ‘dynamic’. If we harness the dynamism to include both systematic and manual feedback then we become ‘adaptive’, constantly evolving and learning to new situations. I will argue that this cannot be done by intelligent routines alone which is why to become truly adaptive you need a dash of ‘social’ in the mix and the update loop has to be a fundamental piece of the puzzle otherwise you become static again.

I will also argue that the terms ‘adaptive’ and ‘dynamic’ are fairly interchangeable and we should really settle on just the one, I don’t particularly care who wins or gets the grand prize for the name, I think we’ve had enough of that in the last two decades with ‘BPM’ itself (and I’ve already talked about this in a previous post so won’t dwell on it again) but before vendors and analysts start off on the hype path can we seek to consolidate the view and terminology so there’s less confusion for the prospective client this time around ?

Is there a view that the emerging trends are really shades of grey or are there really black and white boundaries between them all ?

Again, I’ll stick my neck out and say, ‘grey’……


7 responses to “Adaptive, Dynamic, Social: Can these three emerging BPM concepts become unified ?

  1. Great question Theo. I think that there should be an eventual convergence of the concepts of dynamic process and adaptive case management. The end state is what matters more than the name, so the goal should be solutions that offer both traditional BPMS capabilities alongside and integrated with what we’re terming adaptive case management. My view of ACM is that it should include both, so when I personally discuss ACM I’m already thinking about the blended solution. I don’t disagree that ‘adaptive’ and ‘dynamic’ are very similar. Adaptive is a more powerful description to me, it implies creativity on the fly, where the system is able to adjust and change based on the needs of the moment. Still, standardizing terms would certainly help consumers. Of course you need to factor in IBM’s recent announcement of ‘advanced’ case management. Glad to see they’re blazing their own trail in naming. :-)Does Social BPM come into play? Yes. Is there such a thing as Social Case Management? Sure, if you apply social technologies to CM. Are we fragmenting too much by applying the ‘social’ moniker to all the technologies? Yes, I’d say so. It’s akin to the ‘eCommerce’ label from back in the late 90’s. You tend to hear less about the ‘e’ because it’s all just commerce in reality. So my hope is that we take the goodness that is social software and weave it into our solutions as part of the fabric we use to improve businesses, allowing the social label to go away as it’s all just business.

  2. Theo,when I speak about case management, I don’t append something on to the front. In my view all case management is adaptive/dynamic/advanced and when I speak to customers it’s heartening to hear that they share my views on this and the direction in which it takes their organisation. I actually find a bigger challenge talking to other people within my own organisation in getting them to understand that case management is where it’s at – a pretty interesting convergence of many sometimes better understood disciplines like CRM, ECM, BI and KM. [Probably because some of my colleagues have a vested interest in ECM, BI etc.] That’s another thing – I never refer to Case Management as CM!On the social question, at the start of 2009 I gave a series of presentations and I discussed what I was calling Case Management 2.0 at the time. I’ve since stopped using the 2.0 term as I think Case Management now naturally draws from social disciplines as well.

  3. Adaptive vs. Dynamic: agree it is a toss up between these two. Dynamic connotes fluidity, while adaptive connotes plasticity. I think plasticity is better, because adaptive implies that it can keep its shape after it is modified. But if everyone jumped on "dynamic" I could go with that.Social BPM: honestly not sure what this is. BPM means so many things. Social networks allow a decentralized making of connections and communications paths. But BPM is by its nature centralized. If by social you mean that people collaborate in the designing of processes (a.k.a. collaborative planning) then you are talking about something that Fujitsu products have been doing for about 15 years — this really is not using anything particularly social. However, I do believe that social collaboration at run time is something that Case Management covers, and so is not really BPM.Yes there is huge overlapping areas, but I think it is going to sort out into two area: one is a process-centric methodology which seek repeatable process using mass production techniques. The other is a data-centric (or case file centric) approach that is designed to have the tasks defined at run time for work which is impossible to predict. BOTH of these areas will gain "social netowork" capabilities, but for entirely different purposes. I think you end up with two distinct fields.

  4. I for sure agree that "Adaptive" and "Dynamic" depict the same and the industry needs to collaborate and finalize on the lingo. I would vote for "Adaptive" as this is a more holistic term which would even include run time processes adapting itself depending on feedbac data(which would in turn be driven through BPA – Business Process Analytics).But with "Social BPM ", my perspective is there are many unexplored areas where there are strong business cases.Yes there might be overlap, but Social might span out to be something bigger than just case mgmt as specified in the above comments. Like we have Human Centric BPMS/Document Centric BPMS, we might have a Network Centric BPMS where the entire discovery as well as the run time process is driven by the social network.

  5. I have to agree with Keith on establishing what the "adaptive" or "dynamic" implies. Is around design time flexibility and possible social collaboration or is it a dynamic run time approach where processing adapts itself based on contextual information in a process that will determine the routing? I researched a number of views on the subject and there don’t seem to be agreement of where the "adaptive dynamic" activities are. I think it is a critical part of the definition.We’ve also had an adaptive of dynamic design time environment for a long period of time. We’ve been fortunate (and often criticized) that we’ve never designed our BPMS around the workflow concept but rather around business rules that can be either systemic or reliant on user decision based on contextual information.Processes are dynamic or adaptive from my point of view when the process is not limited to the “happy path” model that is generally used in drawing a predetermined flow diagram of sorts, but when process objects/activities can be sequenced at runtime. It is similar to the change that we’ve seen going from top down, sequential programming models to object oriented programming. We now have methods (controlled and well defined) that are called based on the context of the process as and when needed.Either Adaptive or Dynamic is ok with me as long as it related to both design and run time.

  6. I am waiting the next coming up with "flexibel processes", which was trendy in the beginning of the nineties (especially in Germany). That everybody in BPM is looking for new buzz words implies that BPM with the old fashioned structured processes is dead and new areas have to be digged for. In the nineties many other wordings were wellknown: Group Computing, Workgroup Computing, Computer-supported collaboration, computer supported cooperative work. All are sounding like those of social PBM or whatever social. This buzz word bingo will drive our BPM market tired (me too). Who will hear any new definition, where no accepted definition of Business Process Definition is available yet allthough the acronym is on the market since 2000. And as I read an article in the news paper this morning: the first social cloud computing companies are stopping their offerings, because the business model of payless services will not match.The most small and medium customers (in Germany ~ 90% of the market) are expecting simple solutions with little process support. The most are not aware about BPM. They are processing some working tasks. May be controlled by a simple Process Engine, mostly via E-Mail. More important is, to find the case data and to create adhoc (flexibel?, dynamically?) new data and store them to the old case. And if there is a question a link is sent adhoc via E-Mail to a collegue. Every thing under control of the responsible worker (more or less).Yesterday I have seen a cartoon with: "we are buzz-word-compliant". Bingo

  7. Norman makes a good point. Case Management, free of adjectives or flourish – sounds more serious. Case Management is easily defined in contrast/compliment to BPM. Dynamic, Adaptive, Flexible, Responsive are all attributes of Case Management. f I had to pick, I’d choose Dynamic, but do any of these really add market clarity as a label?When describing an individual Case or Process, I like Dr. Bartonitz’s suggestion – flexible. Flexible is more accessible to prospective customers, and its a ready contrast to traditional process, which can be generally characterized as rigid. Flexible also defines both an individual instance as being responsive and system that has a palette of options for managing related processes or fragments of a process inside a case (ad hoc, recommended, guided, pre-defined).It would be nice to have general terms/definitions we could agree on to limit unnecessary market confusion. It would allow organizations to more clearly evaluate products based on technology approach, price and support. That would probably be good for all of us.

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