Is Waze the Way of the Future for BPM?

wazeI’m at the bpmNEXT 2014 Conference this week. Held annually in the beautiful Asilomar Conference Grounds in Monterey, California, it’s a summit meeting of top industry vendors to share ideas and demonstrate emerging BPM technology.

Last night, Jim Sinur set the tone and painted a futuristic vision in his keynote talk, “My Process is Smarter than Me.” It’s a world of connected, goal-driven intelligent agents that work collaboratively to solve problems—Dynamic Case Management on steroids. Ultimately, he predicts that we’ll see then end of prescriptive process altogether; it will be supplanted by this combination of human and machine intelligence to deliver results.

Afterwards, wine was flowing, and event organizer Nathaniel Palmer and I had to laugh when we simultaneously remarked how the community-based traffic and navigation mobile app Waze is a great metaphor for Jim’s vision and Dynamic Case Management in particular:

  1. It’s goal-driven and intelligently adapts. Tell Waze where you want to go, and it gets you there as fast as possible, navigating you in real time around traffic jams. Google Maps will tell you how to get from A to B, but it’s the same every time. No wonder Google bought Waze last June for $1.1B.

  2. It’s collaborative. Every Waze user passively contributes to Waze’s intelligence about road conditions. Waze also alerts you to road hazards and police reported by other users; it’s the CB radio for the 21st century.

  3. It’s connected. Waze is a great example of the “Internet of Things”—a vast network of event-driven intelligent agents. It continuously connects and brings together people and information from systems and devices, and the whole is more than the sum of the parts.

  4. It just keeps getting better. There are some serious analytics running inside Waze, and I swear that they are getting smarter. When I first used Waze last year, more than once it guided me into the maw of developing traffic, but I haven’t had this problem for a while. Have they added predictive and adaptive analytics to detect and avoid emerging patterns of build-up? I wouldn’t be surprised.

There’s more to Dynamic Case Management, of course, but the metaphor works really well.

But perhaps the most important similarity is that Dynamic Case Management, like Waze, isn’t some future vision—it’s real today. I can think of dozens of customers in communications, banking, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation that are using these aspects of Dynamic Case Management in their operations today. I think we are closer than most people think to the world that Jim envisions.

Nathaniel Palmer
Author: Nathaniel PalmerWebsite: http://bpm.com
VP and CTO
Rated as the #1 Most Influential Thought Leader in Business Process Management (BPM) by independent research, Nathaniel Palmer is recognized as one of the early originators of BPM, and has led the design for some of the industry’s largest-scale and most complex projects involving investments of $200 Million or more. Today he is the Editor-in-Chief of BPM.com, as well as the Executive Director of the Workflow Management Coalition, as well as VP and CTO of BPM, Inc. Previously he had been the BPM Practice Director of SRA International, and prior to that Director, Business Consulting for Perot Systems Corp, as well as spent over a decade with Delphi Group serving as VP and CTO. He frequently tops the lists of the most recognized names in his field, and was the first individual named as Laureate in Workflow. Nathaniel has authored or co-authored a dozen books on process innovation and business transformation, including “Intelligent BPM” (2013), “How Knowledge Workers Get Things Done” (2012), “Social BPM” (2011), “Mastering the Unpredictable” (2008) which reached #2 on the Amazon.com Best Seller’s List, “Excellence in Practice” (2007), “Encyclopedia of Database Systems” (2007) and “The X-Economy” (2001). He has been featured in numerous media ranging from Fortune to The New York Times to National Public Radio. Nathaniel holds a DISCO Secret Clearance as well as a Position of Trust with in the U.S. federal government.