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A point Phillipe Ozil raises in this article: BPM of Things: the Next Generation of the Internet of Things. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 21 2015, 09:49 AM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 10:19 AM - #Permalink
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    Although BPM is pushed too much into a technology thing here (as you can tell from the terms 'workflow' and 'use bpm'), I think it's a good start to place IOT in a process context.
     
    What's the use of a fridge telling me there is no milk? Nothing, if nothing happens with that information. The goal is not to have that information, but to have enough milk, what could be seen as a process result.
     
    I still check myself, write it on list, drive to the shop, buy the milk and store it in my fridge. It's my own choice to use technology for (parts of) this process.
     
    So in the end it's IOT that serves executing and managing of processes. Like any other tools.
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    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 10:47 AM - #Permalink
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    Now I treat as obsolete technologies that are not throwing off telemetry, that are not exposing events to IFTTT and the like. Today I am working from my boat on San Francisco Bay. The boat tweeted my arrival and emailed my boating buddies (beer o'clock time is 17:00h today). My wife is bringing lunch over I'll get a text when she's on her way and I just learned that there is no rain predicted today (again). None of these interactions required me to do anything and for no effort whatsoever I am more fully informed about my day, my friends know what is happening and I'll have just enough time to set the table and open the Chardonnay at lunch time.

    Emiel Kelly is dead right. The IoT "things" are already giving off enough telemetry to for even prettty simple workflows change the way we live. If my fridge knows I am running low on milk it should get some delivered.

    I just started using IFTTT and noticed GE appliances can now be made to Tweet when the turkey is cooked and when the AC filter needs cleaning. It won't be too long berfore every appliance has news to share and, as Emeil says, we can choose to listen or not.

    This sudden ubiquity of telemetry from our personal digital world and increasing ease of workflow design in the consumer space will stimulate a new wave demand for process automation in the enterprise. Just as the Personal Computer revolutionized the 70s and 80s so IoT will revolutionize business the 10s and 20s.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
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    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 10:48 AM - #Permalink
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    IoT, as the blog points out, changes the way businesses can operate (think ZipCar) or it creates whole new businesses (think FitBit). And now businesses have to operate at scale with far less margin. So the focus is on highly effiicient processes.

    Therefore IoT is yet another driver alongside compliance, CX, systems implementation and digital disruption to force businesses to get better at BPM: capture and undertanding processes, end user adoption of processes, managing the process of process improvement.

    So let's celebrate another reason for making BPM important and relevant. But let's not try and jump on a bandwagon (anyone remember eBPM?).

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 10:52 AM - #Permalink
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    TLA cornucopia. The degree to which BPM and IoT intersect, complement, synergize will be driven by ROI. Neither was, is, will be the panacea some in the peanut gallery proclaim. Many will make a run, some will make a lot of $$$, some will lose a lot of $$$, most will be somewhere in between right along with our attention spans and degree of auditory tolerance.

    Oh yeah, appliances tweeting? Redonkulous.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 11:06 AM - #Permalink
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    If the Internet of Things means things talking to eachother in order to support the user (often a human), I can actually see how BPM might help here. That is, when BPM means having insight in and control of E2E processes...

    What I mean with this, is that I can see that things are (or become) fairly independant, but know how to connect (talk to) with each other. The behaviour of the total chain (the combination of things, smart devices) however is the interesting bit here.

    When my fridge informs me that we're out of milk, Emiel is completely right: This doesn't mean that something happens. It's actually a pretty simple proces. But when the fridge orders the milk, and somehow the milk get's delivered and placed in the fridge (I do see some manual activity here, unless we have some house-bot that does this for you), that would already be a bit more complex.

    And then here is the BPM advantage: Because as a BPM nerd (and trying to think E2E), I can also design a process that does not inform me directly, but the store (and obviously inform me). The store inventory will be pretty accurate (as many milk orders might have been placed) and the store will inform me that there is milk to be picked up (or, as per choice, can be delivered by drone :-)). This is a slightly different use case, with a slightly different focus. It however solves 2 things: My milk problem and an inventory problem. And even further away you can start wondering why we would still use stores in the first place...

    Or am I being too nerdy here... ?

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 11:08 AM - #Permalink
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    Man o man, all those problems... glad I own a cow.

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    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      G. W. F. Hegel: As useless a differentiation as "a night in which all cows are black".
      Bart Simpson: "Don't have a cow, man!"
      : )
    • Emiel Kelly
      more than a month ago
      I just realized I got a thing that makes noise when it's running out of milk. He is called Lyam and is six months old...
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      LOL! But also your comment can be taken seriously - there are so many "analogue" things in the world that just "work now". Is there really a business case for mass adoption of new thermostats? Maybe?

      As for refrigerator monitors, we have a semantically-enriched model that not only detects "out-of-milk", but that also can express preferences, as in "I like yoghurt with blueberries": (Sophia is 7.)
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 12:10 PM - #Permalink
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    Should be already....? BPM is that principle of recognizing the critical business operations where information is created and used to achieve the business objective. Many devices will create new relevant data and must plug into the process to be used as required. The supporting Adaptive software will handle with ease so no restrictions in thinking how all will be handled efficiently.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 03:36 PM - #Permalink
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    Per the blog posting reference above, @BonitaSoft's Phillipe Ozil says "the IoT needs BPM". It's a great statement! So many IoT systems or apps can be defined as sensors + some edge code + plus some server code + database + dashboard. And the code part ensures brittleness. And more, you have a scaleability and complexity problem, because IoT usecase variants proliferate as fast as sensors.

    BPM is the answer certainly for IoT software construction requirements. But I felt that Mr. Ozil could have even argued the case for BPM more strongly.

    Why? Because the IoT is about automating some task or work. And there's only one software category that is purpose-built for work.

    BPM software by definition surfaces the concepts of work -- including the kinds of tasks that are required in any IoT environment -- as first class citizens of the technology.

    Why would you code a task when you can drag and drop?

    Compare building an IoT system on code (including frameworks) and alternatively with BPM software.

    The initial BPM cost is higher. But how long will it be before your BPM-based approach is shown to be vastly more productive, less complex, easier to maintain and evolve, easier to understand etc. etc.? Days? Weeks?

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 04:16 PM - #Permalink
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    Sure, your refrigerator can talk. But is anybody doing anything about it?

    Like social media, like commercial transactions, like atmospheric radar, like battlefield status, and like traffic updates, IoT is just another data stream. CEP and similar technologies turn data into events, and BPM turns events into actions. The ability to take useful action as a result of all that data, and orchestrate those actions with human decisions, will eventually--but inevitably--be valuable, and will open new doors for BPM.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 04:30 PM - #Permalink
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    If I look at Peter’s original question “Will the ‘BPM of Things’ Be the next Step in the Evolution of the ‘Internet of Things’”, then I have to say I don’t think so.

    There are many technological advances that will drive the evolution of IoT, especially in consumer markets. Faster, smarter and smaller processors that require less energy will enable new IoT devices for use cases that we’ve not even considered. Industrial markets like the Industrial Internet of Things as GE coined it, is more mature in their application of IoT and even there the challenge right now is more about managing the volume and velocity of data generated from these IIoT devices.

    The challenge for BPM (the technology, not the methodology) is that it is typically not designed to ingest the fire-hose of data that stream from these billions of IoT devices (if analyst predictions are right about the future of IoT). BPM solutions need a “front-end” to collect, transform and present the data around the key business events that will impact business processes. This situational awareness for BPM to act on is typically created through the use of Operational Intelligence tools. BPM tools can then drive the appropriate actions and in our experience these are often case-based BPM requirements.

    We see this, for example, with a Fortune 10 super major Oil and Gas customer where data comes in from 10,000s of thousands of sensors across 1000’s of wells. Contextualizing and filtering the data before it becomes useful for BPM to drive appropriate actions is what gives them a competitive and operational advantage.

    Automated actions and agent technology will have a major impact on the evolution of the Internet of Things. Using machine learning to train certain parts of the process (through Intelligent BPM tools with this type of “agent” technology) will help with the volume and velocity of data challenge. Leveraging machine learning in business processes will probably be more of an evolution for smarter BPM and increase its relevance for IoT use.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 04:41 PM - #Permalink
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    i think underlying many of the responses above is a sense that if the devices can talk and report telemetry, should they? is it useful? does it produce an outcome?

    In fact, reporting data without thought, pushing more data into the ether doesn't create value - and it isn't neutral. If it isn't creating value then it is likely diminishing the value of all the other data out there by occupying space (noise... and waste). separating signal from noise requires extra processing smarts and horespower (waste).

    We could probably benefit from producing less noise, making it easier to find signal.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 04:59 PM - #Permalink
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    Nathaniel Palmer points out in his chapter " Is Your Business Ready for BPM Everywhere?”*

    … “Robots, sensors and other data-generating “things” require vertical integration to create managed, measured, and actionable feedback loops.

    Your refrigerator will probably not be directly connected to a BPM process anytime soon, but will inevitably participate in any number of processes ranging from maintenance to energy conservation.

    BPM, and specifically BPMEverywhere, is necessary to bring these innovations into mainstream business operations. New applications are being built to leverage this, yet traditional approaches to application development remain typically far more procedural and programmer-centric.

    A BPM-based application platform presents a declarative, model-driven development approach that favors configuration over coding. This type of “low code,” model-driven approach is how the complex, data-driven systems of the “Internet of Everything” and IoT will continue to emerge.

    Resolving the challenge of connecting the growing spectrum of intelligent things is what will drive the BPM investments and digital transformation initiatives of the next decade.”

    Published in the recent book "BPM Everywhere, Internet of Things, Process of Everything" published by Future Strategies Inc.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, July 21 2015, 08:49 PM - #Permalink
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    When we stop thinking of the IoT in terms of the Things i.e. fridges and kettles and more in terms of the benefits that can be derived from connecting them to the Internet we'll really be on to something.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, July 22 2015, 03:46 AM - #Permalink
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    Honestly, I just can't fall in love yet with the IoT concept. Probably there's so much IoT dust in the air right now that I cannot really see the obvious opportunity (and sure it would be too late by the time the dust is settled), besides the frivolous use cases of tweeting fridges and quantified selves, or past the very real big industrial deployments.

    Here's my major beef, and again this is my own opinion: most of today's IoT preaching is based on the dangerous quicksand called the API economy.

    Sure the API economy is cool and opens up a plethora of technical integration opportunities. Many people are seduced by the API part and completely ignore the economy bit. Sure, it will be (and already is) possible to make all those things talk to each other, but only if there is a coherent, stable, horizontal business model behind this collaboration.

    The API economy is a highly-fragmented, highly-volatile, horizontal model - what works today might not work tomorrow due to the landgrab efforts of the so-called disrupting start-ups that launch everything everywhere in hopes that they will attract the big guys into financing / buying / acqui-hiring them. And eventually numbing down their innovative nerve (anybody who has experienced a bluewashing exercise knows how painful it is). Because, frankly, most tech acquisitions are rarely about the technology, but about the customer base.

    So how can I base my business model on the API economy, knowing how volatile it is? How can I run my business mostly on RESTful message exchanges, based on a plethora of one-to-one obscure protocols that may be obsoleted, superseded or deprecated every 6 months? The horizontal API movement leads an uphill battle against the big vertical closed internet ecosystems (eg iCloud / Android / the big social networks) and I'm not sure it's winning consistently so far, because it's about tearing down walls that protect these vertical business models.

    This is where BPM will come to the rescue: again, the reference to stateful interaction makes sense as a way to orchestrate and choreograph long-running business activities. So I believe that IoT for business cannot meaningfully and sustainably happen outside a BPM logic.

    Ultimately BPM will own just a tiny sliver of the IoT behemoth, but it will be the beautiful, meaningful, adequate and intelligently scalable sliver.

    PS: I don't even want go into the subject of how stupid it is for a personal device to use a broadcast/subscribe messaging pattern just to let you know that you're out of milk or how massively useless IFTTT proved to be for my business use cases.

    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      @Bogdan's 2nd last paragraph above deserves to be framed. And it's a test: you can turn it into a gating question for any proposed IoT project.

      Regarding the API economy, one thing I've learned in sales is that integration plays, for example B2B ecommerce plays built on EDI or ebXML etc., together with BPM, are hard sells.

      Any business model built on said integration play is a business model built on sand. APIs are gateways to value but only that and it's difficult to make a business case for infrastructure. (Obviously infrastructure has to be built -- but funding it or making a business out of it is a topic for a different day.)

      Here's a new metric (per @Bogdan, the "Tweeting Refrigerator Metric"): The real value of any post on the #IoT is inversely proportional to the proportion of text devoted to consumer refrigerators as a business case.
    • Bogdan Nafornita
      more than a month ago
      I need to hone my English skills - you summed up nicely what I meant, John - only more succintly and more eloquently :-)
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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, July 22 2015, 08:17 AM - #Permalink
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    Agree with Bogdan, again.

    If “ programmable devices” are a new type (physical, active, mobile, autonomous and intellectual) of participants in business processes then the question actually is about synergy between BPM and IoT.

    I think that IoT (as we see it now) is the tip of the iceberg of future explicit, machines-executable and adaptive coordination of work (known as BPM) which will span over co-workers, companies, customers, communities, countries and continents.

    Thanks,
    AS

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, July 23 2015, 07:29 AM - #Permalink
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    I think Pillippe has already missed the boat! The era of IOT connected BPM processes is already upon us, I was working on a insurance claims process last year where, the insurer was taking information from monitors in the vehicle that record how well you drive. Usingthis "live"data the insurance company was able to A) adjust your yearly premium and B) understand what you were doing at the time of an accident! It's no stretch of the imagination to see that this technology could also initiate a claim once an accident had occurred providing essential information like date, time, location, direction and speed of travel. Beware those fraudsters who claim whiplash when the vehicle monitors that the "offending" driver was only traveling at 10MPH!

    Another scenario is wearable’s, my health band records all of my vital statistics about my workouts, sleep patterns, calories burned etc I can easily see these bands becoming more proactive and providing warnings to my GP, say if I were a diabetic and my insulin levels take a dip for an extended period. This could trigger a call from a health professional or even order an ambulance if it detects that I haven't moved from that spot in the intervening period!

    So yes IOT is going to create all sorts of opportunities for organisations to extend their products and services by processes that reach out, sense or respond to data that is out there. Sounds like a 'Brave New World' to me, someone should write a book about it.

    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Good example @Nicholas. You are saying then that the process semantics between car and insurance core systems were deployed in BPM? That would be excellent! As for Mr. Ozil's original question, I think his concern is that more organizations should follow your example.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, July 23 2015, 12:29 PM - #Permalink
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    “So yes IOT is going to create all sorts of opportunities for organisations to extend their products and services by processes that reach out, sense or respond to data that is out there. Sounds like a 'Brave New World' to me, someone should write a book about it.”

    @Nicholas – there is indeed a book about it already… :-)

    In fact Surendra Reddy addresses many of the points you raise in his chapter called, “Woots: Smart Things that Can Think, Act, Learn and Talk.”

    He includes applications such as health care, city management and more. He even gives a detailed example how the Process of Everything applies to shipments of fine wine.

    He explains about the concept called Web Of Open Things (Woots) that are everyday "Smart Things" with a specific identity, address and presence on the Internet and capabilities to self-organize and communicate with other things with or without human intervention. To make sense of the flow of information, activities, and rich interaction experience, Woots also embed a “tiny brain” to provide context awareness, autonomy, business process intelligence and reactivity.

    His chapter discusses the adoption of smart analytics and business process intelligence into Smart Things to realize the Web of Open Things (Woots), how to improve interoperability, reduce the overall architectural complexity, and facilitate the integration of processes, people, and things.

    His chapter appeared in "BPM Everywhere, Internet of Things, Process of Everything" along with the rest of an amazing line-up of authors who each closely examine the issues from multiple angles and opinions.

    It’s on Amazon, grab a copy. Or download the Digital Edition from BPM-Books.com

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  • Accepted Answer

    Saturday, July 25 2015, 03:04 PM - #Permalink
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    Late to the party here, but this may be useful to the people who look through the archive.

    Every process starts with an input. And that input will increasingly come from the IoT.

    Throughout the process, further inputs will add to the data to process, until BPM becomes a Pied Piper, dancing along with lots of little IoT databytes.

    IoT is not just about smart fridges, but about connected factories.

    In my first job, in a Nescafe packaging dept, we lost most of our downtime to sensors in the various machines. We could never predict when they would fail, nor which one it was. With an interconnected network and monitoring micro-signals which show imminent failure, downtime can be massively reduced (and at Nescafe downtime cost £1m an hour).

    It is about connected inventories too. Smart tags which know where every item is and connecting that to the price you bought it at, its age and size can give you powerful inventory management without human intervention. It can even schedule deliveries and cleverly reroute inventory to where it is most likely to sell or be used. Link that to marketing and you can ramp up advertising to drive demand, create dynamic pricing to shift or conserve stock and even link in HR to ensure staffing levels are correct.

    IoT is the future of Business Process. But, just like many of the people in the business will have to reinvent themselves, so the software will need to be re-invented to take advantage of the new possibilities. Our biggest problem will be unlearning the methodologies of the past.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, August 05 2015, 10:45 AM - #Permalink
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    BPM is already playing in the IOT space - with drones! Here's a pretty cool story from Quauhtli Martinez at SOA Software Factory. A nice use case of IOT + BPM for GIS applications.

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