- Where to start when evalutating a process
- Features a BPM solution must have
- How to bridge the process and technical gap
- Top BPM predictions, including the low-code/no-code movement
What are some of the first questions you ask when you’re evaluating a process?
JS: The first thing I ask is how much money can I save if I make it better? And then the second question I ask is am I considering the whole context of this process or does it still need to be something bigger? Because you can suboptimize by taking the low hanging fruit. In other words if you yank the oranges at the bottom of the tree you might hurt the tree. So the other thing I ask is are we using the resources that the process leverages? Are we optimizing those resources? Or are we distracting them? Or are we making it impossible because we got to move from one process to another? Or the jobs aren’t laid out right. They don’t match the skills. So there’s a lot of issues around processes and optimizing resources.
What are some features that a top notch BPM solution must have?
JS: Well, I believe that they have to have one of two things to start the process. One, either they have to be able to have process intelligence in an existing process so they can measure what’s really happening, and that’s assuming you’re not starting off on a blank sheet of paper. Or you have to have a modeling capability that allows you to model the process or the goals.
If it’s a pretty rigid process all you have to do is model the process. If it’s more adaptable, then you have to model the goals. Whether those be eight milestones or whatever. You have to have some type of modeling capability. It’s a plus if you can simulate it. But you don’t have to.
Then you have to have execution capability to execute the process. You have to have integration capabilities to link to other things. Then you have to have visibility capabilities that will allow you to visualize the process and the context that it’s in. And then you need optimization and adaptation capabilities that will do more than visualization to say that the process is on track. It will tell you when there’s opportunities.
So, in essence, it’s process intelligence. That’s not mining necessarily but be able to do, let’s say, flight simulation with real live data instead of modeled data. That’s one example. And all of them have to have agility. All of them have the ability to handle variable speeds. All of them have the ability to orchestrate multiple resources. All of them have the ability to support static and dynamic processes. Those are all things that are absolutely necessary.
How can BPM bridge the process and technical knowledge gap?
JS: Well there’s a couple of gaps. One is what I call a specialization gap where companies have organized around people’s specialties. And processes can be augmented with knowledge so that you can make people more capable. Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re working for an insurance company and you underwrite policies using computer rules. Let’s say you’re a junior underwriter and you’re looking at somebody’s high blood pressure. I could give you the knowledge of the senior underwriter by giving you cognitive help, like a lesson or a deep mind that would help you do blood chemistries or rate scuba divers. I could assist you as a non-expert with expert knowledge. That’s one of the bridge gaps.
And you see a lot of companies talking about that today: machine learning, AI, cognitive laps and deep mind. And you’re going hear more in AI assistance. That’s one gap. And that’s an artificial gap created by managements, organizations. So there’s no reason that you couldn’t have a general person service a customer and give them dynamic billing knowledge and dynamic account knowledge and dynamic knowledge about your product instantaneously by having cog’s whisper in their ear. We don’t do that. We should.
Well we’ve got Siri to start.
JS: Exactly, and Google. So, then there’s the gap between the technical execution and what the business wants. So what you’ll find is generally there’s a tag team capability to process tools where the business people plot out facsimiles and who does what and all that. And some technician goes out and finds a little widget to help. And that bridging of the gap is collaboration. Eventually the bridging of the gap will be technology smart enough to swarm to a need. It’s called aging technology or swarming technology. Kind of like little ants swarming to a puddle of sugar.
Speaking of sugar, there’s been a lot of buzz around the citizen developer movement. Do you think this the future of BPM?
JS: Remember the first question you asked me. How much money can I save? Here’s an example of it. You know, doing it the old way was going to cost X. If you use low code it’d be X divided by three. So yes, it’s a hot topic. Is it the future? Absolutely. Will it be there? Someday it will be expected. If you don’t do it you don’t play. This has cycled around to be a hot topic over and over again. I’ve been in this industry too many years and we’ve cycled through the programmer productivity chain over and over and over again.
What are some of your other top predictions for BPM over the next decade?
JS: I think BPM will become in everything. And people will even recognize it. Back in the day, integration was the hot thing. Oh, we can get high amounts of information. Oh, we can get high amounts of systems. We can get all that. And it was a big hot thing. And we had a big market. We never hear about it anymore because it’s expected. BPM will be seen in the background. And it should be.
Also, I think the Internet of Things and the interaction of people and machines and people and sensors and people and cognition -- that is hot stuff and it’s going to be hot for a long time.