Is Waze the Way of the Future for BPM?

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I’m at the bpmNEXT 2014 Conference this week. Held annually in the beautiful Asilomar Conference Grounds in Monterey, California, it’s a summit of top industry vendors to share ideas and demonstrate emerging BPM technology.

Last night, Jim Sinur set the tone and painted a futuristic vision in his keynote talk, “My Process is Smarter than Me.” It’s a world of connected, goal-driven intelligent agents that work collaboratively to solve problems—Dynamic Case Management on steroids. Ultimately, he predicts that we’ll see the end of prescriptive process altogether; it will be supplanted by this combination of human and machine intelligence to deliver results.

Afterwards, wine was flowing, and event organizer Nathaniel Palmer and I laughed when we simultaneously remarked how the community-based traffic and navigation mobile app Waze is a great metaphor for Jim’s vision and Dynamic Case Management in particular:

  • It’s goal-driven and intelligently adapts. Tell Waze where you want to go, and it gets you there as fast as possible, navigating you in real time around traffic jams. Google Maps will tell you how to get from A to B, but it’s the same every time. No wonder Google bought Waze last June for $1.1B.
     
  • It’s collaborative. Every Waze user passively contributes to Waze’s intelligence about road conditions. Waze also alerts you to road hazards and police reported by other users; it’s the CB radio for the 21st century.
     
  • It’s connected. Waze is a great example of the “Internet of Things”—a vast network of event-driven intelligent agents. It continuously connects and brings together people and information from systems and devices, and the whole is more than the sum of the parts.
     
  • It just keeps getting better. There are some serious analytics running inside Waze, and I swear that they are getting smarter. When I first used Waze last year, more than once it guided me into the maw of developing traffic, but I haven’t had this problem for a while. Have they added predictive and adaptive analytics to detect and avoid emerging patterns of build-up? I wouldn’t be surprised.

There’s more to Dynamic Case Management, of course, but the metaphor works really well.

Perhaps the most important similarity is that Dynamic Case Management, like Waze, isn’t some future vision—it’s real today. I can think of dozens of Pega customers in communications, banking, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation that are using these aspects of Dynamic Case Management in their operations today. We are closer than most people think to the world that Jim envisions.