Trend #4: The Rise of “Things:” From Internet of Everything to Process of Everything

Gazing into the Crystal Ball:
Top 10 Trends for 2014 (Part 4)

Terminator 3 was titled “The Rise of the Machines,” and featured a futurist depiction of cyborgs (Skynet) attempting to rule over the human race. Not a likely scenario, but in this increasingly digital world of ours, there is a quiet revolution that is happening.

Constructive, less assuming and smaller “Things” are taking over the population at an exponential rate. As illustrated in a compelling video bearing the same title, connected and communicating “Things” are everywhere and will be even more pervasive in the imminent future. Undoubtedly, the “Internet of Everything” (IoE) is one of the most substantial technology trends for 2014 and beyond. IoE (also known as the “Internet of Things” and “The Industrial Internet”) involves billions of devices or “Things” connected over the Internet. These devices are all continuously generating data, sensing, creating and consuming events- all the while, they are controlled remotely. From modernizing cities through intelligent buildings and transportation, to industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, automated cars, farmlands, and industrial plants, the IoE is changing the world as we know it.

The emergence of IoE is an important phase in the evolution of the Internet—the age of intelligent devices. Every day, new intelligent “Things” are joining the data systems and expanding the digital revolution. Gartner believes there will be nearly 26 billion “Things” or units connected by 2020. Cisco has even created a dynamic "connections counter" to track the number of people, processes and connected things added from July 2013 until July 2020. Cisco CEO John Chambers sees this as a $19 Trillion opportunity! More importantly, he indicates, “This is not about technology at all. It’s about how it changes peoples’ lives forever.”

Does this trend have anything to do with intelligent business processes? Yes. Just about everything! The “Physical” (“Smart Devices,” “Machines,” and “Things”) and the “Digital” (“Systems,” and “Software”) worlds are coalescing. IoE is not just about connectivity technologies or even the predictive analytics models discovered from the enormous amount of data generated by the myriads of devices or “Things.” Although these are important building blocks, these technologies need to solve real problems that typically involve multiple collaborating activities that include People, Systems, and Things. In other words, IoE needs orchestration through automated intelligent processes: Process of Everything.

Through Process of Everything, IoE will realize its full potential and have capabilities to solve real problems that will change our personal lives and businesses. Business process management (BPM) has its roots in workflow systems that focus on human participants (People). Now, emerging intelligent BPM (iBPM) is extending the orchestration of participants from People, to Systems, to intelligent Things that all coordinate harmoniously towards specific business objectives.

iBPM provides both the context and the container for intelligent Things to collaborate and succeed in achieving goals. As we create a vast network of Things, we need intelligent processes to manage it all and ensure that the right Things are being used at the right time, by the right people, and in the right situation. Empowered with a rich collection of capabilities that include business rules, predictive analytics, real-time decisioning, event correlation, and especially dynamic case management, iBPM coordinates all participants (People, Systems and Things) in complex, dynamic processes and cases to complete business objectives.

These capabilities allow all participants to collaborate in order to achieve innovation, continuous improvement and the optimization of processes. As this automated intelligence trend matures, humans will more keenly focus on innovation and cognitive work, delegating the routine and even the knowledge-assisted work to automated Things. Today, a new era in process automation is on the horizon, and we are moving not only to the Internet of Everything, but the Process of Everything as well.

The following video on People, Systems, and Things shows several compelling examples of PoE. You can also hear us present on Process of Everything at PegaWORLD 2014, with a compelling PoE demo.