From wearables to artificial intelligence to something else, what new technology do you think will have the biggest impact on business processes in the next year or two?
Commonly-agreed understanding of BPM (as discipline, tools, practices and architecture together).
The significant benefits of creating a mobile, flexible workforce are becoming self-evident to both employers and employees; particularly in countries like the UK with expensive office space and clogged commuter arteries.
This change to 'smarter' working means adapting to new technologies and very different working practices, at both staff and manager level. But what do we do about business processes? Will collaborative software, shared drives and some simple workflows do the job? Or will we need to rethink the whole field of BPR in order to cope with the world of anytime, anyplace, anywhere workforces?
Inputs, ideas and experiences, good or bad, are very welcome.
All technologies that intensify the support of CX (customer experience), and "mobile" are becoming more and more important. Critical point is to get more and more client's events, to build real behavior patterns which allows to adjust internal processes to the client needs. This should companies allow to increase customer satisfaction and fidelization, increasing sales and lengthening periods of repeat purchases.
While I like and agree with the thoughts that others have contributed, I think two important new technologies has not yet been mentioned -- machine learning and cognitive computing. Some may say that they are too far out in the future, but I believe that the rapid pace of improvement that we are currently seeing in both of these related technologies will cause them to have a significant impact on process intelligence within two years, if not sooner.
80% of any end to end process is probably not automated and uses "process knowledge" is often held in different technologies (line of business apps, document databases, hard disk, collaboration). Therefore the critical integration technology is the "human" who needs to navigate different technologies to get any task done. We need to provide support for the "human" to understand what they are doing, give them easy access to the information where and when then need it, and on a device that they are using. And as the task changes to meet ever more demanding customers they need to be able to be able to stay on top of it.
So the same problem we've had for years, but now it has become more complicated: getting humans to follow process.
I think the location is important when answering this question.
In developed countries, I agree that new technologies and its “buzz” would impact BPs. Most of the previous post went on this line.
I would like to think what happens in developing countries: the most important technology to boost automated Business Processes is internet connectivity from any device. Most of the population has smartphones and tablets, but not good Internet all the time. Yes, it is that way in most of the countries of the world. Yes, that simple ;)
We have the usual suspects and the usual problems! And it is to love 'em all.
I like CX with BPM. CX and BPM should be joined at the hip - but I see CX more as derived from process and not a technology that contributes to processes.
So in answer to the question on up and coming technologies that will impact business processes in the near future I suggest "process mining".
Process mining is surprisingly easy to use, and the use of process mining-derived insights, whether one instantiates the results in BPM or not, can contribute positively to better managing the 80% of unautomated processes highlighted by Mr. Gotts.
In retrospect, one can see all traditional BPM process technology as about top-down fiat; process mining on the other hand starts with actually lived life, and can be quite revolutionary. Widespread adoption has yet to be achieved though . . .
Agree on "mobile" but fact is enterprise software as is with coding and complexity of "components" must be be addressed to take people and process that huge step forward. Recently an analyst in architecture described the software industry for the enterprise is equivalent to the motor industry in 1910.....!
Here is my take on the future based upon 20 + years R&D to solve the problem many were articulating in the 80s! First removal of coding to recognise business logic never changes combined with a simple but powerful architecture that handles all data required and created by people and "machines". This architecture delivers generic capability to quickly build and readily change custom process driven applications at a fraction of cost. This opens doors to reality of being quickly adopted throughout the organisation.
Legacy becomes the slave to this all embracing approach indeed over time will be greatly reduced. People become empowered with supporting real time feed back and reporting. It is good to see the MDE (model driven engineering) movement begins to have its profile raised indicating that journey has started and will bring commodity pricing to an industry long over due for change and it will put BPM as the driver.
I'm going to also vote for "mobile" and link that to IOT.
Building on what others have already alluded to... "Mobile UIs" are already the norm, but what we're headed for in the next year or so will be the distributed execution of business processes across many devices (mobile and otherwise). Many of these devices will be location aware. Many of these devices will have intermittent connection to the Internet.
It's extremely difficult to build, deploy and maintain distributed business processes today - but the pressure to reduce that pain (and the rewards if you can pull it off right) are huge. No doubt there are some really smart people working on next-gen distributed/mobile/IOT process studios right now... and I expect we'll see evidence of that soon.
'Processes' is too general in this question. Financial processes differ quite a lot from agricultural processes. But what they all share is the need for information. So it probably has to do something with technology that improves 'providing information'
But, in the end all these gadgets don't run without energy. so energy producing technology (solar, wind, etc) would be my answer to this question.
"The Future is here - it just isn't evenly distributed" William Gibson
We are approaching three singularities (if there can be more than one).
1. Brain Power
Smartphones will be smarter than humans within the next decade. Connected to near infinite resources of data and with the processing power to make complex decisions in real time, these mini supercomputers embedded in everything will make all the human decision points in most BPM processes obsolete - replaced by true data driven decisions.
Meanwhile robotics is reaching the point where a machine can do more accurate work than a human, be as versatile as a human and still maintain its advantages of ability to lift, work continually without tiring and link with the data-driven decisions to be part of a documented and learning process. Cost will breach the 1 average human year price barrier - $50k or below. Adoption will follow an exponential curve over the next decade.
Autonomous vehicles will also reach critical mass. Not cars as we know them, but trolleys which move and pallets which deliver themselves without the need for a truck. Process quantities set by a human vehicle will be swept away.
These will transform Process - and good Process Prionciples will be essential to make the best of them.
Mobile, for sure.
In the next years we expect a massive BPM adoption. BPMS will be designed for multiple devices (pc, phones, tablets), but also for multiple companies: both huge and smaller ones.
Also, this will allow that countries where BPM isn't widespread will get to know this solution and use it.
As a follow-up, the physical aspects of systems will change constantly, yet if we design systems logically, representing a more stable model, implementation of the latest technology will be greatly simplified. I wrote about this some time ago:
So, it becomes a moot point as to a system's physical implementation.
All the Best,
Palm Harbor, FL, USA
"Software for the finest computer - the Mind"
One thing to remember is that "new technology" is a relative thing. From my experience, even barcodes are beyond the reach of many companies of substantial size, based on their existing business process and technical capabilities. We still need better tools for getting those left behind up to the end of the 20th century. In these cases, tools to better support business process re-design and continuous improvement are critical. Going through the change management challenges associated with "modernizing" practices while installing or upgrading an ERP system is extremely onerous, and typically require a concurrent change in culture. I envy those who are able to experiment with and implement the latest tools, but there's a lot of gratification in moving enterprises forward, even if you're a few laps behind the frontrunners.
As my second nomination for technology impinging on BPM (1st above was "process mining") I nominate the Internet of Things ("IoT), already mentioned above by @John Reynolds.
Clearly a lot of IoT technology is not strictly "new", i.e. RFID and PLCs and SCADA have been around at least a generation.
But the dramatically lower prices and dramatically larger quantities of deployed sensors and actuators add up to something new.
And of special interest to the BPM and process automation community, the IoT has a big "semantic problem".
All that data spewing from sensors can result in alarm fatigue, i.e. drowing humans in a deluge of data. And there are other IoT-related semantic challenges.
The answer to alarm fatigue and other IoT challenges is very much about business semantics and business analysis "in the middle", between edge and human beings.
And that middle is defined by business rules, analysis, and especially business process, realized in BPM software technology.
The connection of IoT and BPM in the world of business was captured in an event reported earlier this week:
August 13, 2015
"The latter path is the one that Pacific Controls (PCS), a global provider of existing machine-to-machine systems, is taking. The company is today announcing a strategic investment in another entity, WS02. For its part, WS02 is an open source middleware platform that can be seen as an alternative to the better-known solutions from Oracle and IBM."
FYI, WS02 deploys BPM based on the Apache ODE BPEL engine, also used by Intalio.