From Internet of Everything to Process of Everything ….

From smart phone devices, to smart TVs and connected cars, the connected world is slowly but surely turning into reality.  Cisco calls this the “Internet of Everything.” There are some excellent descriptions, illustrations, and applications at http://internetofeverything.cisco.com/

McKinsey considers the Internet of Things as one of the most important disruptive technologies that will transform our lives. The Internet of Everything (IoE) will involve billions of “things” or devices connected over the Internet – sensing, generating data, responding, and providing opportunities that are ripe for innovations that will transform both individual lives as well as businesses.  These things or devices will be intelligent. Increasingly, the Internet of Everything will include everything from biometric devices to sophisticated sensors on mobile devices to food products to cars to utilities, to animals, to the houses we live in. Everything – tens of billions of devices connected on the Internet. In the next decade, digital-enabled things will generate more Internet traffic than people.

As connected “things” and devices become more and more pervasive, the relationship between humans and connected things is going to profoundly affect not only our lives, but also our working environment. There are two reasons for this. As smarter devices get connected to the Internet, they can start to assist workers in accomplishing their objectives. This is an important phase in automation, which started with the industrial revolution. Thus, we will have humans and intelligent connected devices working harmoniously to accomplish business objectives. The smarter these devices or “things” get, the more proactive they will be in helping us carry out our tasks.

The second reason has to do with data – or more specifically the intelligence that is extracted or mined from the data, sometimes in real-time. We are witnessing an explosion in the amount of information that we are generating. This is described as “Big Data” and it is characterized by the complexity of its volume, velocity, and variance. Connected Internet of Everything devices will only accelerate this trend. There are other sources of vast amounts of data, such as social networking sites or the transaction data within enterprises. Through proven modern analytics techniques, we can now extract the hidden knowledge of Big Data, mine it, learn from it, and then use it to adapt accordingly.

The coordination and execution of connected devices will need a context. They will also need collaboration to achieve specific goals. The increasingly intelligent things, together with human participants, need to have their tasks orchestrated to achieve business objectives. Furthermore, the intelligence that is mined from Big Data needs to be made actionable – again in the context of specific business solutions.  Enter “Process of Everything.”

Intelligent BPM solutions will orchestrate things, humans, and systems for business objectives, while leveraging the intelligence that is mined from data as well as those harvested from the mind of experts. Intelligent BPM systems will instantiate, complete, and resolve work created from these devices and serve as a bridge to connect these devices to human participants. It will mine the events in real-time. Intelligent devices will execute business rules and decisions. They will learn and adapt – while being “process” connected to other devices or humans. This is a natural evolution of BPM: human participants in intelligent business process management (iBPM) solutions are already augmented with guided interactions and decisioning intelligence. With connected “things,” the process automation extends from the confines of humans and includes intelligent devices over the Internet: The Process of Everything.

Let’s see how this plays out in one of the most important industries that affect all of us – healthcare. A wearable device that measures blood pressure, for instance, will have limited value if it doesn’t alert your dedicated provider when your blood pressure is dangerously high. But that “alert” is also not sufficient. It needs a process (the context), to assign tasks to different clinicians, health coaches, specialists, as well as medical devices, involving people and connected devices. If used wisely, with respect to user privacy, this technology can help people’s lives, whilst enabling healthcare organizations to reduce operational cost, improve health outcomes, while processing work for innovative as well as competitive services and products. In addition to sensors generating alerts and kicking off processes, the continuous analysis of patient data can be used in the context of intelligent BPM, to proactively allocate tasks to nurses, clinicians, and doctors to coordinate all aspects of a patient’s health. 

The opportunities for innovation through the Internet of Everything are massive. Check the recent blog from Cisco, titled “Unlocking the Next Wave of Innovation and Job Creation” – the IoE can potentially jumpstart the economy and “transform industries and lives in ways we have never before imagined.”  But these intelligent connected devices need to operate in the context of business processes for specific business objectives. They need intelligent BPM to participate in end-to-end processes and collaborate with human participants to achieve these business objectives. Welcome to the Process of Everything.

For more details, please check our recently published chapter titled “Process of Everything” in the upcoming iBPMS handbook: Intelligent BPM Systems: Impact and Opportunity http://www.futstrat.com/books/iBPMS_Handbook.php