The way ahead: Business Process Management and the BPM Cosmos

“The only thing that is constant is change”

This quote was coined by Heraclitus of Ephesus – (Ἡράκλειτος, Herakleitos; c. 535 – 475 BC), a Greek philosopher, known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe, and for instituting the term Logos (λόγος) in Western philosophy, as meaning both the source and fundamental order of the Cosmos.

The source and fundamental order of Business Process Management (BPM) has clearly evolved over the years. During the information age the seed was planted with “Process Improvement” initiatives by technologies such as Management Information Systems with Computer Automation. The basis of structured processes led to “Process Re-engineering” in the 1990’s, leveraging technologies such as Customer Relationship Management (CRMs), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERPs) and Enterprise Architecture, which then lead to Business Process Management (BPM) in the 2000’s.

In the past 5 years, we have already witnessed the rapid rise of BPM-driven custom applications developed for the latest mobile devices and deployed in secure cloud environments.

And, as desktops, and laptops fade into the background, the “Internet of Things” describes a world in which objects (technology-wise) that form part of our everyday lives, such as smart watches and Google Glass, can communicate and interact through various networks, including the Internet.

This leads to my question.

What is next in the BPM Cosmos?

The future of the BPM Cosmos looks promising. Here are 5 trends which will certainly take shape over the next few years in the BPM cosmos

1. Artificial Intelligence

Artifical Intelligence - BPM Cosmos | Princeton Blue

An obvious hot topic, being that Artificial Intelligence (AI), has some controversy surrounding it. Some believe that people will still remain central to BPM during our lifetime, but some think we’ll see it take a larger presence in the next few years, quickly clouding the lines between human and machine interaction.
We are already seeing plenty of examples of AI but the anticipation is growing with how BPM will ultimately leverage it. We could have fuzzy or smart processes that don’t execute the same way each time, experiment with random elements, and that learn along the way—becoming smarter and eventually making, hopefully good, decisions on their own. Although it is a scary venture to let an algorithm make important business decisions, we think we will begin to see more and more instances of BPM leveraging AI in very interesting ways.

2. Recursive Workflows

Recursive algorithms are one of most powerful ideas in computer science. Could we apply recursive workflows to BPM? The idea being, that some of these problems can be solved using solutions to smaller, easily solvable instances, of the same problem. Generally, recursive programming requires more memory and computation power, however this could allow us to solve some tricky business problems in cases where iteration isn’t as appropriate. The benefits of these recursive workflows might also be further increased combined with AI.

3. Zero Code

Zero Code - BPM Cosmos | Princeton Blue

The top BPM tools are driving towards less and less programming – “zero code.” With new wizards, tool boxes, process modeling, design pallets, etc., we are able to build applications with little to no code. This movement is making rapid development and deployment a reality for BPM solutions. But, zero code means zer¬o code. An application being built and launched without any type of programming for setup or customization, implementing core business processes with a complete model driven, zero code approach, just doesn’t sound realistic for most business cases; this so called “zero code” stuff seems to be mostly a marketing tool.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution and we’ve got to believe that at least in our lifetime, solid BPM solutions are still going to involve some type of programming. Is zero code the future of BPM? Of course it’s possible, and there are use cases for it, but I wouldn’t expect to see a bunch of developers canned as a result.

4. Hypercollaboration

The idea here is that a process with simultaneous actions and decisions is much faster and efficient than one executed in linear time with chronological actions and decisions. In hypercollaboration, process actors would team think and make decisions together, simultaneously, while crossing geographic, organizational, and political boundaries, to pool their skills and resources, solving problems and achieving shared goals. We are already seeing the beginning of this extreme collaboration with use of virtual web based collaboration spaces, crowdsourcing, social media, improved reward systems, and real time communication activities. I can assume these communication conduits will only improve and one day we might see this “simultaneous BPM” become a reality in the BPM Cosmos.

5. Gamification

Gamification - BPM Cosmos | Princeton Blue

Every day, more and more companies are adopting gamification as a way to help transform their business. This use of game mechanics and game design can provide an experience and engagement that is not easily satisfied in BPM environments. BPM solutions are leveraging gamification to drive continuous improvement and innovation, by developing skills, encouraging collaboration, changing behavior, and so much more—the uses are endless. We are already seeing numerous cases of gamification being applied in BPM, and when done correctly it’s proven to be quite powerful.

Before you know it, we will be building and leveraging Zero Code custom BPM applications, building in Artificial Intelligence, and using Recursive Workflows, to swiftly solve previously unsolvable business problems. These same applications will utilize Gamification and harness the power of Hypercollaboration, engaging the work force and creating a culture of continuous innovation.

This makes for a pretty impressive team of man and machine. Watch out cosmos!

We’re sure you have your opinion about the BPM cosmos. Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Follow Princeton Blue on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Google+ to get focused BPM-specific updates.

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