Ten Technology Trends in Ten Years … for BPM (Part I of II)

I am always fascinated by futurists. Some of them, like Kurzweil’s coming “singularity,” are far off and difficult to prove or believe in. But there are more pragmatic predictions that are already shaping the future. I have been thinking about what BPM solutions and BPM platforms will look like in the next couple of decades. No one can go back to the future but there definitely are some trends that will have significant impact on BPM or, even more importantly, be impacted by advances in BPM.

Recently, Cisco’s futurist, Dave Evans, shared his vision of ten technology trends that will be most significant in the next ten years. It caught my attention and I couldn’t help thinking how these technology trends will affect, be leveraged, or impacted by BPM. Here are some of my BPM focused thoughts on Evans’ predictions. I will be covering the ten trends in two blog posting. In this part, Part I, I will cover the BPM focus on the first five trends. For each, I have indicated Evans’ title of the trend in quotes:

  1. Internet Connected Devices (“The Internet of Things”): As more devices come online and get connected on the Internet, this makes it even more compelling to make them part of a BPM solution’s assets, especially in dynamic case management applications. Sensing, interacting with, and controlling the enormous number of devices on the Internet are an incredible opportunity for new BPM solutions in many industries. For example, business rules driving the BPM solutions can enable real-time processing and control of the state changes in the connected devices to pro-actively make recommendations, escalate, or avoid disasters. BPM process integration can bridge the silos that often exist between geographically dispersed knowledge assisted participants and Internet connected devices.
  2. Digital Information Explosion (“The Zettaflood is Coming”): With the speed and proliferation of the Internet, Evans predicts one zettabyte of data will flow over the Internet. As he points out, the biggest challenge is to extract knowledge from this data. More importantly, the main challenge is to operationalize the insight. BPM solutions are the ideal context for decision management. As BPM and BI coalesce, the best value could be achieved through operationalizing the insight that is gained through analytics. So another related opportunity is discovering and operationalizing the insight form the enormous internet connected devices, especially through Predictive BPM solutions.
  3. The Cloud (“Wisdom of the Cloud”): As Evans points out, large amounts of data, services, and IT spending will be consumed by the cloud. The cloud is one of the most important trends in BPM. Compared to on-premise approaches, the cloud provides tremendous advantages in procuring, setting up, developing and running BPM solutions. A complete and end-to-end browser (and increasingly mobile) based BPM platform is necessary for robust BPM solutions on the cloud. BPM enabled cloud solutions provide process centric flexibility in collaboratively building BPM and executing dynamic cases. Cloud is also ideal for monitoring and continuously improving BPM solutions. BPM enabled solutions such as customer service on the cloud, can provide killer applications for many industries.
  4. The Next Generation of the Internet (“The Next Net”): This trend is about the speed of the net in the next-generation. With the Net becoming more robust in speed and reliability over larger distances, the benefits for Internet enabled BPM are enormous. All phases of the continuous improvement lifecycle for BPM benefits from faster Internet: from collaborative innovations in designing and building the complete BPM solution to execution and improvement – all through the network within private or public clouds. Enterprises typically have small percentages of their support, mission critical, or management processes automated through BPM.  Even for processes that are automated, often the solution is leveraged by a relatively small percentage of the total potential number of users. By the same token, BPM provides the ideal “killer application” for the Next Net.  
  5. Social Media (“The world is flat – so is your technology”):  Social networking is making the world more flat, smaller, and always connected. Social media is compelling because it provides a readily available and “flat” medium for customers, stakeholders, and consumers to be heard. Suddenly everyone is able to share ideas, comment and exchange to evaluate, vent, or improve. The relationship between social networking and BPM is quite robust. Business processes provide the context of collaboration, and social networking supports and augments the various phases of the BPM continuous improvement lifecycle. In addition, text and predictive analytics could be used to analyze the voice of the network on social media and respond through dynamic case solutions in BPM. Thus, BPM becomes the context of responding to customer observations, feedback and even suggestions for innovation. One of the most important trends is crowdsourcing, which has the potential of propagating innovation in new products and services or the resolution of dynamic cases through social interactions.

Continue reading Part II...