Today's question is among the most important of questions concerning users of technology.
Many of us recently enjoyed Keith Swenson's blog posting about "business etiquette modeling", and the video of bird "murmurations" (a wonderful new word for me) where the emergent behaviour of the flock is explained by simple rules followed by each individual.
Here is the original reference:
I mention this recent posting because I believe the etiquette modeling question is related to the question at hand, that of "BYOProcess". For argument's sake I will take the "end case" of process as referring to an individual. Thus we have a question, "is there a future for individual work processes". The original question was "do you think this could be important in the future". My answer is "yes" and that there are few software questions that are as important.
Most software now is built "from the top down", with Soviet-style command and control. And the individual is an after-thought. The result is often terrible software, at least for the individuals forced to shoe-horn themselves into poor work models. For example, if I put on my sales hat, I can say there are few categories of software where most of the members of the set are as bad as what sales software is for the B2B sales professional.
Now imagine an alternative: autonomous human actors acquire a flavour of software early in life, out of perhaps several available. And then they immerse themselves in this software -- for life. And when you go to work, you work "in your own software".
And the software is smart enough to have a rigorous divide between private, public and work. You are now the "empowered autonomous human actor". And from everyone with whom you work, wonderful group emergent behaviour happens. And you connect with business software as required.
Constructing this software requires sophisticated "ontologies of the personal". They don't exist yet, although we are much further along than when I first explored this topic over 10 years ago.
There is a real model for this type of work already in existence -- and that is the work of the auto mechanic. An auto mechanic owns his or her own tools, stored in a "big red box on wheels". And one selects the tools that one likes to work with -- and typically mechanics don't lend tools to each other. And when you change jobs -- the pickup truck backs up to the bay, and you roll your tools into the truck and take them with you. And when you start at the new job, you pick up the tools with which you are already intimately familiar.
What a practical model for office workers and software!
Here is my blog post on this topic, complete with a picture of a "big red toolbox on wheels":
Here is an essay on "ontologies of the personal", including my speculation as to why we have constructed software on such a poor foundation:
Here you can find (2nd last presentation) a PDF PPT summarizing these concepts on a panel at a conference (look for "John Morris"):
Imagine software that is first and foremost one's own tool kit. We are moving in this direction. But there's a long way to go. And the question is so complicated that only ontology can bear the weight of the requirements. When we get to this place, the organizations that provide the focus of organized work will also benefit from emergent systems behaviour that is both desirable and far surpasses anything constructed using traditional methods.
As for our starting point, i.e. business process software itself, as much of software is about helping us perform work, and business process software is the software that explicitly surfaces and concerns the artefacts and symbols of work, then ontology-based business processes will be a key component of the BYO personal software platform of the future.