The future of BPM ? – Intelligent business processes and the self-aware enterprise

I was having a think about how Enterprise 2.0 is creating transparency of information in the organisation through collaboration and how this ties to Social BPM and potentially Adaptive Case Management and came up with this far out and unstructured notion (bear with me, I’ll make a disclaimer that I use terms interchangeably and my thoughts are often erratic but hey, that’s part of the fun….)

The majority of BPM Suites offer real-time process information, execution and tracking but this needs to be extended further through the collaborative aims of Social BPM and it’s ability to rapidly discover new processes and share that information with many participants. On top of this, some of the dynamic BPM tools offer the functionality to execute processes without the need for a structured process model to exist by initiating one and tracking the work package as it moves from pillar to post until it’s complete. Now include the ability to allow a combination of on-the-fly changes to process by people and system driven probabilistic or deterministic behaviour and rerouting (after many instances have been captured), add in that necessary feedback loop in order to track and continually update how the process operates and you begin to have the beginnings of some form of self-aware or real process intelligence.

Take the image of that process being dynamic, fluid and tracked by BPMS, transpose it onto the arguments I’ve been making about the enterprise structure being without the traditional hierarchy and lose the role-based access model that is currently implemented across tools. What you want to aim for is the ‘subscription’ model which some have in place, that is, the process exists and people who are interested in it can ‘subscribe’ to be aware of its performance and current status. This removes boundaries and opens up the collaborative angle even further.

The term I’ve heard being used is ‘ambient awareness’, that is to say, your desktop is a window into what is happening right here right now in your organisation, you can subscribe to the information that’s out there and be aware of it’s interaction, and also influence it’s behaviour and path by making changes or interrupting the process because some piece of new information has come into play which you are aware of but no-one else is at that time. You are not a direct actioner of the item of work in the process but you’ve been able to shape its direction because you have information. Of course it seems like a completely chaotic way to manage a business but ‘out of chaos comes order’ as they say. Like I said in my previous post about what we could learn from Star Trek, it no longer becomes ‘an’ enterprise but ‘your’ enterprise , you work in it and now have the ability to help direct it and contribute to its success in ways never heard of.

Traditional BPM/ BPA tools, modelling a process within an inch of its life, cannot achieve this in this new world simply because of the amount of effort and information needing to be captured, contained and maintained. In this fashion, repository based tools will have to evolve to allow rich sharing and collaborative features in real-time otherwise they become part of the information bottleneck. To this end I have to admit that, in the next few years with Enterprise 2.0 and Social BPM becoming more of a focal point, static repositories will start to lose their attraction for some.

I know what I’m trying to elude to (badly) and to some extend a lot of it exists already just not in the right order to really make things happen and change how we view BPM.

As you can see, this is what happens when I run out of Red Bull and gin….


3 responses to “The future of BPM ? – Intelligent business processes and the self-aware enterprise

  1. Now that’s what I call Adaptive! Not so much Adaptive Case as an Adaptive System. In such a system you are no longer managing processes per se, but interactions, and to business users, isn’t that what it’s all about anyway – people interacting within some basic rules of play versus simply fulfilling steps in processes.The pre-condition for such future-forward free-form universe is a 100% generative environment – that’s what we’ve built.

  2. Pingback: Lessons from the games industry part 2: Process AI and ACM evolution « BPM redux·

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