Clearly, very few in this forum have an idea what an agent is and how it is different from a 'watched folder', 'VB scripting', or 'background processing' ... cynical humor doesn't really hide the lack of understanding. I am not saying that agents will play a huge role in BPM. They will be the norm for ALL future software. Even a Nespresso coffee machine doesn't have a dial to set the 'length' of your espresso: 'YOU ACTUALLY TRAIN IT by holding down the button for the desired time!' So go ahead and make fun of it ...
But I do accept that all such terms are misused heavily in marketing such as 'intelligent, smart, and even adaptive'. And yes, the term 'agent' has been used for many odd things creating even more ambiguity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/agent
The only sensible agent description is the one used in artificial intelligence or -- as I prefer -- in machine learning. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/intelligent_agent
'In artificial intelligence, an intelligent agent (IA) is an autonomous entity which observes through sensors and acts upon an environment using actuators (i.e. it is an agent) and directs its activity towards achieving goals (i.e. it is rational). Intelligent agents may also learn or use knowledge to achieve their goals.'
So clearly the terminology describes a software entity that learns autonomously by observing a state space of information and/or is guided by humans while being focused on achieving well-defined goals. We have developed and advanced autonomous machine learning agent technology for ten years, especially in relationship to observing and acting on business processes. But many of the above responses show why it will take quite some time until it will be accepted by small minds in IT.
My 2006 patent on the subject: http://www.freshpatents.com/method-for-training-a-system-to-specifically-react-on-a-specific-input-dt20080515ptan20080114710.php
Recent evaluation by Forrester Research:
In the evaluation of DCM vendors, ISIS Papyrus received a Strong Performer positioning in each of three Wave evaluations for Overall Capabilities, Design Time Capabilities and Runtime Capabilities, based on its scores in Current Offering and Strategy. Profiling Papyrus as
“a powerful development platform that can be targeted at a number of process problems,” the 2014 Wave report for DCM cited ISIS Papyrus for:
Flexibility of its platform for runtime behavior
Emphasis on business terminology and goal orientation
Patent for a user-trained agent (UTA)
Provides recommendations and training based on the latest knowledge gained in case handling
Read more at:
A post from 2008 on the subject.
A recent post on the subject.