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Dr. Alexander Samarin writes about Smart Contracts in this blog. So as he asks, do you see Smart Contracts as a golden opportunity for BPM? And if so, how?

Thursday, May 12 2016, 09:49 AM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 12 2016, 10:02 AM - #Permalink
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    I agree with Alex's assertion. And I tend to err on the negative side of the answer here. Apart from MIWG, I have not seen much effort from BPM vendors to cooperate towards a greater good.

    Not to mention that this entails many more tech advances (blockchain, digital escrow etc) being incorporated into an eventual extended BPMN standard so yeah, it looks like the BPM vendor group (and OMG) as a whole will miss the opportunity to standardize.

    Things are moving a bit too fast for standard bodies.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 12 2016, 10:09 AM - #Permalink
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    Actually Dr Samarin has indeed a great point here. The focus in his blog is on Smart Contracts but:

    In general I see a lot of opportunities for BPM and blockchain (related) technology. Although you could see blockchain as "nothing more than new technology," it opens up a whole bunch of new business possibilities and thus BPM related initiatives. New business models, new ways of (not) doing stuff.

    And as Bogdan just stated: There is obviously a chance that standard bodies will be missing the point as the developments are going extremely fast. There is a two side look at stuff IMO. Operations (getting things done) and governance (be in control of things). Smart Contracts (operations) has actually built in governance. But I suppose we still need to understand the processes in order to improve the processes... And again this could become highly automated (e.g. process mining combined with blockchain).

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 12 2016, 03:42 PM - #Permalink
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    Is not that it will be that BPM thinking backed up with supporting software will be an opportunity for smart contracts? Whether it is people or machine actions the consequences as required by the contract brings in a sequence of events or further actions many of which will be automated. This could well trigger a smart process which can dynamically makes choices based upon the data created. We know this is now possible and there will be more to come that will make smart contracts an exciting opportunity for BPM ....but will old IT and originators of the smart contract idea make the connection....?

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 12 2016, 04:25 PM - #Permalink
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    Contracts are nothing more than non-deterministic flowgraphs, with a document as the objective.

    Smart contacts relative to not-so-smart contracts have pre-conditions to steps and post-conditions on exit from steps.

    The idea is to not get to where a rewind is needed because of missing data, inaccurate data, inconsistent data at any particular stage of the processing.

    When the final version gets signed, the idea is that the contract documents the intentions of the parties at the time they signed the contract.

    I don't see lawyers needing to worry about being replaced by software for complex contracts.

    See my post Why We Visit Lawyers

    -

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 12 2016, 08:46 PM - #Permalink
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    This is a fascinating question from Dr. Samarin, concerning smart contracts. Likely all the technical requirements for smart contracts are all ready available, especially if BPM is deployed via the Stiehl "#BizDevs" model (business semantics rigorously separated from SOA/ESB technical interfaces). And then we have a happy path and happy clients too.

    The challenge though is as several correspondents have pointed out, the business readiness. This means that the business semantics are not yet in place, and there are no #BizDevs (there's that term again) champions yet.

    But what opportunity! The smart contracts idea is especially suited to "tiny contracts" and micropayments and the Internet of Things. We are beginning to see rapid growth -- with no end in sight -- of services and product sales where transaction sizes have been sliced and diced. Certainly no lawyers need apply -- except for business analysis and system-wide legal policy and contract creation.

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    • Dr Alexander Samarin
      more than a month ago
      Yes, predefined smart contracts for commodity services and commodity transactions.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, May 13 2016, 02:28 AM - #Permalink
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    Thanks to everyone!

    Legal documents – contract, constitution, “bylaws forcorporations”, “meeting minutes”, “NDAs”, etc. are next business “rules” to be formalised to become formally correct and machine executable. Thus will enable the digital business by speed, accuracy, better predictability of results and lower risk.

    Legal documents are a mixture of classic decision-centric rules, behavioural-rules, responsibilities and business conducting patterns. Thus a mixture of rule engines, ontologies, processes, IT practices as agile+devops, etc. are necessary to transform legal documents into digital business artefacts. And BPM already offers a lot for such a transformation.

    This will be a critical step to software-defined enterprises.

    Thanks,
    AS

    • Bogdan Nafornita
      more than a month ago
      fully agree, contracts are just sets of explicit rules (albeit not yet executable)

      Maybe that's the key to large adoption of process-driven mindset into enterprises: as long as these outside "legal APIs" can be made machine-readable and machine-executable, a plethora of ideas will pop-up on how to effectively drive them inside the organizations...
    • Dr Alexander Samarin
      more than a month ago
      Bogdan, sounds like a solid idea for a start-up ;)
    • Bogdan Nafornita
      more than a month ago
      yeah, let's disrupt business contracts!

      we only need to start with getting US and EU to agree on TTIP, then to agree on common ISO, to merge US GAAP with IFRS, then agree to ditch the imperial measurement system, the daylight savings crap, the common taxation framework...

      and then we could actually hire some lawyers to standardize legal terms in a way that eliminates their jobs.

      I mean, what could possibly go wrong? :-))
    • Dr Alexander Samarin
      more than a month ago
      Bogdan, agree, except jobs: BPM does not eliminate people's jobs - BPM makes people's jobs more intellectual, more added-value and saves their resources for implementing business innovations.
    • Bogdan Nafornita
      more than a month ago
      jokes asides, yes I agree it's a good start-up idea, someone might actually have the money and willpower to push it into the market.

      as for disruption, in every market there's someone who would be willing to make less money for more volume. As Bezos says: "your margin is my opportunity"... so I don't exclude disrupting lawyers' jobs as an enticing prospect... even for some lawyers.
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Such an opportunity would become part of the legal ecosystem which already includes massive outsourcing of legal work (especially of more structured work, such as reading larger volumes of legal documentation that may accompany major commercial lawsuits) and ancillary legal productivity technologies such as text mining, semantic text mining and ontology-based markup. Ontology was mentioned; add AI and there is the basis of "intelligent smart contracts", which are reconfigured in real-time for specific requirements. More precise contracts can support more differentiated services, which in turn support better margins. And all this on top of a BPM process foundation!
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, May 13 2016, 12:51 PM - #Permalink
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    2 votes

    An interesting explanation from http://www.coindesk.com/the-dao-just-raised-50-million-but-what-is-it/"

    What is the DAO?

    It's likely best to think of The DAO — which is sometimes also referred to as The DAO Hub — as a tightly packed collection of smart contracts written on the Ethereum blockchain.

    Taken collectively, the smart contracts amount to a series of by-laws and other founding documents that determine how its constituency — anyone around the world who has bought DAO tokens with ethers— votes on decisions, allocates resources and in theory, creates a wide-range of possible returns."

    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Good catch Dr. Alexander!

      As William Gibson said, "the future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet". And DAO is very futuristic -- in the best sort of way.

      Apparently DAO (whatever "it" is, "DAO" stands for "Distributed Autonomous Organization") has already raised $ 50 million USD, at least says the post on the URL. So, this is a test for blockchain. It should be easy enough to verify the $ 50 million USD!
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