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Another subject that came up at bpmNEXT: Do you think the Digital Business Platform is what BPM has been evolving toward all along?
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I think the Digital Business Platform is a natural evolution of the Human Centric BPM platforms, but we must remember BPEL and the other headless orchestration and choreography approaches were (and in some corners still are) a large segment of the "BPM" market. From that perspective, Case Management platforms could also be seen as leading to DBPs.
Founder at John Reynolds' Venture LLC - Creator of ¿?Trules™ for drama free decisions
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@John . . . Hopefully, there were/are few "Human Centric BPM platforms" I would find it a challenge in such a platform to pitch "automation".

I suppose a good test of a modern "business process platform" is whether it can handle a workflow where NONE of the steps require human input.

I really don't get "Digital Business (Process) Platform" - can anyone describe a business process platform that is not "digital"?
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I see Digital Business Platforms as a set of combined (hopefully also integrated) technologies to support organizations in their (excuse for the marketing term) digital transformation journey.

In this journey processes are reviewed, redesigned or even deleted or invented. At least; many processes might need some adaptation. Adaptation to what is expected of them in this digital age (or what your competitors are offering ;-).

And yes, then all the stuff in a Digital Business Platform might definitely help to keep on "managing your organization by useful processes"

DBP's I've experienced so far; I would call them BPMS+ as they started from a "traditional" BPMS and are extended with functionality like

- (mobile) Capture of data on the front end (Including things like ID recognition and validation)
- Multichannel case kick off
- E-signatures
- Document/communication composition at the end
- RPA
- ECM
- and probably some more I forgot.

I would still call that a BPMS as it supports the design, execution, management and improvement of all aspect of processes. Processes that just become more digital from (forgive me again) end to end.


So in the end, it's still about our good old processes and make them create value for someone in a desired way.
Sharing my adventures in Process World via Procesje.nl
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Let's not get too focused on "platform" for digital business. We've seen it before: ERP, CRM, BPM.
The more interesting question is can we leverage the pace of innovation in layers, as Neil Ward-Dutton kindly put it - interaction, insights, and integration - and it is hard to do that in a monolithic platform approach.

As a result you see a move to microservices and breaking things into component parts that have defined interfaces, play well together, and are replaceable.

Making Digital real might well be BPM's mission. Well, if we want to get beyond pretty websites and on to better outcomes and experiences.
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Both CRM and BPM plus ECM, to me, were "soapbox" solutions looking for problems.

Not sure about ERP (planning, purchasing, inventory, sales, marketing, finance and human resource) - the designers appear to have had "platform" in mind. It seems ERP got a bad name because of lack of flexibility.

I like "microservices and breaking things into component parts that have defined interfaces, play well together, and are replaceable"
"As a result you see a move to microservices and breaking things into component parts that have defined interfaces, play well together, and are replaceable." Thomas Erl called and...
RE "We've seen it before: ERP, CRM, BPM. " but, now, it is a different view - processes in ERP and CRM are explicit and machine-executable b BPM and BPM-suite tools.

Very good about microservices being replaceable (not only reusable)!
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In terms of next generation delivery of enterprise software yes the digital door opens a huge opportunity for the delivery with BPM thinking. Whether this will be recognised is the real issue.

Digitizing the business operations puts people needs as the driver and takes us back to the very fundamentals of business. It is simple maybe even boring and this is the challenge to an industry that has thrived on complexity designed to keep old IT in charge.....this will change with challenging consequences for old vendors but good news for businesses with lower costs and in built adaptive capability. As previously discussed and as indicated in the question it is the Platform capability which will truly make that difference.
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BPM, like success, has many mothers. So let's take one mother of BPM. Looking back at the path that leads through workflow we find operations research, which itself goes back to practitioners and researchers like Taylor.

Why mention operations research? Because the focus on the OR side of BPM has always been work. The definition of BPM technology I've proposed elsewhere takes this approach. And from such an atomic or Lego block-like approach, one can eventually construct a cathedral -- or a DBP.

I see a danger if an embrace of powerful and wonderful Digital Business Platforms leads us away from the roots of BPM. We're not there yet, but the ultimate purpose of a DBP is the instantiation in automation technology of the MBA curriculum. The risk is this: Unless one can trace any given DBP functionality to its irreducible, mutually exclusive business/technical building block (e.g. a process task, a business rule, an algorithm etc.) then one has constructed a DBP as a black box.

And when you do that, your uncertainty has increased and your decisions are less informed. Ironically, BPM technology itself is not yet mature as a technology. DBP is great as far as it goes, but any celebrations are premature. There is lots of work to be done.
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"Case" on the other hand, is an open box, subject only to

a) corporate governance (is this Case following policy/procedure/practice?)
b) pre-conditions to steps within Cases (should we yes/no engage processing at this step?)
c) rules at steps (is the recorded end time later than the recorded start time?)
c) post-conditions on exit from steps (did we get results that were expected?)
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #3886
+1 @Karl re: case-as-opening-up-the-black-box-of-work . . .
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It pretty much depends on what such a "digital business platform" is made of and then try to compare it to a traditional BPMS.
I usually define a "pure BPMS" as a platform that contains core elements to BPM such as a BPM engine, capacities for basic rules processing, reporting capabilities, integration layers and integrators (including support for standards like WSDL 2.0, Rest API etc.), web end user interfaces and graphical process design features (adhering to certain standards like BPMN 2.0).

A quick, simplified view: http://www.nsisoluciones.com/Components.png

Now, then you have new technology trends like iBPMS were on top of the "basics" you find components such as a Business Rules Engine, entire DMS or ECMS embedded into to the BPMS - also features like pattern discovery, recognition, forecast through predictive statistics can be found in some iBPMS.
I imagine, a "Digital Business Platform" to be along these lines - maybe even going above and beyond all that.

What we have learned is that most mature end users of BPMS will evolve to a holistically integrated suite of many different and complementary business applications, some sort of a DBP (thanks, John) if you will, anyways. The most successful cases that we have observed there, were user who got to that point gradually, consciously building out their BPM capabilities, ad-hoc applications, ECM's, BRE's and system integrations over the years - Opposed to users who basically acquired an "all incumbent" iBPMS (or DBP?) that usually proves to entail an enormously steep learning curve.
NSI Soluciones - ABPMP PTY
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I've gone back in time thirteen years and am looking at the logical architecture model for a reference architecture.
  1. Kay Winkler
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #3861
:D
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No.
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I don't think BPM has been aiming at a DBP all this time (not even sure if there is an overarching, specific, aim of BPM).

But DBP may represent a convergence point for work/enterprise architectures, provided they play nice together, which is always a big IF, considering how each of the proprietary BPM players insists in staying the king of his own hill.
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
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There is no widely accepted definition of DBP and we are still arguing about BPM. Considering that the former is a tool (or a coherent set of tools) and the latter is a business management discipline, let us try to compare them anyway.

1. I would position DBP is my classification of platforms as Corporate Unified Business Execution (CUBE) platform. See [refs 1 and 2].

2. The CUBE platform main challenge is to achieve synergy between diversity (each business is unique) and uniformity (each business is built from a limited set of process/work patterns).

3. Only BPM offers a way to assemble existing and new (ideally, low-code) microservices into unique business processes. Note: Case management is also management by processes.

4. A modern BPM-suite tool is a mandatory part of any CUBE platform.

5. BPM-suite tools must evolve from being a “centre-of-the-universe” to “responsible-enterprise-citizen”.

6. Adoption of a process-centric and microservice-based architecture is a must.

7. Think about your architecture first (as usual).

Thanks,
AS
References
  1. http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2015/12/typology-of-platforms.html
  2. http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/search/label/%23platform
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+7 @Alexander, your excellent list eliminates any need to continue to argue about BPM. 1-yes; 2-yes; 3-yes; 4-yes; 5-yes; 6-yes; 7-yes
7 thanks @Karl.
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I appreciate @John R and @Kay W's comments. The key is that BPM is being shaped by various dialogues, technology implementations....etc. not that there was some grandiose plan all along..... I think the better question is where are we today with our current understanding of what business is about and how to shape it for the future. The significance of the digital revolution is huge and the question i think that should be asked- 'is BPM the digital platform.' I would argue yes it is the critical foundation. The BPM discipline coupled with BPM technology platforms positions organizations for better customer experience, living with change, accelerating outcomes and getting to the digital economy. Companies can play all they want in the front side- customer front ends, web, mobile etc- and the back side- transaction/core processing systems, system of records etc-- however neither side can platform the business. Where does the brain of the organization sit? BPM is the brain and brawn that encapsulate the business front to back- business rules, decisions, facilitating and executing of the interactivity of systems/platforms. That foundation enables all the other sexy technology, eg. mobile apps, to be successful and businesses to get where they need to be in this economy.
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The DBP tag is growing on me as the tag to the software that delivers on the BPM thinking. Agree with Alexander and Karl other than not sure CUBE is a good tag. Certainly needs a new architecture sorry Kay yours is too complex reflecting old ways. It needs a powerful orchestration capability within an environment storing roles, data, UI forms, task types, rules and of course the ability to link to legacy data and useful systems like book keeping. See how in link...sorry not yet widely available....yet but gives detail on how ...and no patents allowed...as prior art rules even in U.S.!

Our research and proof with early adopters confirms build can take place with such capabilities without coding or code generation or compiling. Sure where complex algorithms needed to manipulate data bring in a good coder likewise where links to legacy needed; all driven by the business analysis using the BPM discipline. Go DBP.......gets my vote.....but needs to link to the foundation of the good work undertaken on this site for BPM?

Just a thought DBP could replace the current TLAs used to sell packages as DBP can build them all without creating silo barriers and the benefit of one software technology across the whole organisation?
References
  1. http://www.leadingedgeonly.com/providers/InnovationDetails.aspx?id=1147
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@David . . . Interesting comment re "ability to link to legacy data and useful systems like book keeping"

Linking to "legacy data" can mean linking to legacy data within a Case where there is only one sub-case (in an orders management environment, one order placed by a customer, for example), OR it can mean linking to legacy data relating to other sub-cases in the same Case (multiple orders) OR other case data / case sub-data (other orders placed by other customers). Did I miss any here?

Case Histories can give you easy access to legacy data within any one Case/sub-Cases but for cross-Case data analysis, it seems best to look to a Data Warehouse for searches/reports (for structured data) and to a Kbase (for free-form searches).

Accordingly, seems to me the best data collection protocol is to

1) automatically build Case Histories and, contemporaneously
2) export a copy of all data to a Data Warehouse, and
3) export summary data to a Kbase.

Linking to book keeping systems from Cases saves the users of such systems a lot of time - you can, for each transaction added to a Case, easily store the organization's code of accounts and tag transactions with debit/credit pairs.

All Case exports should, in my view, go to a generic data exchange for pushout or pickup by local and remote systems and applications, including a corporation's Data Warehouse (just one more data subscriber)

Use of a generic data exchanger greatly simplifies security issues - prospective subscribers to data register with publishers by providing their internal data element names for data they want/need - this input can be the basis for sharing (i.e no name, no sharing).

Use of a generic data exchanger also increases uptime/support calls across all trading partner systems in that it simplifies push/pull (i.e. none of the partners gets to effect direct reads/writes at sources/targets, so the addition of a new data element or renaming of an existing data element by a supplier does not impact any data subscriber).

In the absence of standard data transport formats, subscribers do need formatters/parsers - fortunately, these are easy to develop and, in the case of some data patterns, a sniffer can scan a format and write a parser the extracts the data to the data exchange. Same for formatters needed for outbound data.
David, would you prefer a tag DUBE - Digital Unified Business Execution? (sounds like "oak" in Slavic languages)
Alexander I think needs Platform for building Business Digital BPM requirements....and a TLA....which the industry loves....!?
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Riffing on many of the excellent comments - Does the "D" in DBP bother you as much as it bother me?
I'm sure that we all know what the intent of "Digital" is in this moniker, but Digital is ones and zeros, yes and no, black and white. That doesn't say "Business" to me.

I'm sure for some "Digital" seems space age and modern... but to others (like me) is seems dated - like a throwback to the Apollo program. What's the converse of "Digital"? I suppose it's "Analog"... Does any business think of itself in these terms? I think not.

I think we'd do better to be pitching "Intelligent" business platforms - Dare I say "Cognitive" business platforms (I may not be at IBM any more, but they've brainwashed me into liking that term). At the very least, let's push "Smart" business platforms.
Founder at John Reynolds' Venture LLC - Creator of ¿?Trules™ for drama free decisions
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Whilst I do understand your points the reality is "digital" is a current focus involving interactions with users via web forms. Also it is clearly about digital in business....sadly IBM misused the term "smart" associated with BPM and a term that can have multiple association resulting in confusion.....which suits suppliers....and annoys buyers. As for cognitive ....? yes sounds like an IBM marketing term....
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@John M. . . I have similar feelings . . . "Digital" seems space age and modern... but to others (like me) is seems dated"

The "Space Age" started in 1957, so, yes, it is dated.

The transition from "analog" computers to "digital" took place in 1946 (ENIAC), so ENIAC is also dated.

Everything in your statement, therefore, fits together except for "modern" - unless we want to dramatize how "recent" Sputnik and Eniac are relative, say, to the invention of the abacus (5,000 years ago).

Why anyone today (other than historians) could be "evolving" to a "Digital Business Platform" in 2017, is totally perplexing to me.

These folks need to get out more.

I evolved to "digital" by completing a course at uni on building analog computers - lots of servomotors spinning around and reversing direction. I then took a course on Fortran.

My first job with GE was building real-time analog/digital industrial process control systems and I later developed a digital once-through project management software suite for Bechtel Corp, all during the 1960s.

As I indicated early on in this discussion . . .

I really don't get "Digital Business (Process) Platform" - can anyone describe a business process platform that is not "digital"?
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Hold on.. maybe the digital age actually started 5,000 years ago with the abacus?

After all, you ran it using your fingers, it was used for business, and it was a platform . . .. (Digital Business Platform)
Digital in today's environment refers to end users using / creating data from anywhere in today's connected world. Business focuses on the need to record creation use and storage of data to run any organisation. Platform is the software capability in a single architecture to build all those business requirement supporting people and their processes at work. All terms business could understand and now will be able to understand how such DBP could deliver through the orchestration of back office data on to the UI. Time has come to name and investigate Platforms that deliver ...preferably without coding...!?
OK, looks like Digital Business ("Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds.") was coined by Gartner.

Success with Digital Business, according to Gartner requires 'A merged virtual/physical world will need an enormous amount of new infrastructure. CIOs will succeed in digital business only if they contribute to civilization infrastructure and the digital society it enables."

There are apparently five domains of "civilian infrastructure'

http://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/plan-for-the-scale-of-civilization-infrastructure/
More confusion and complexity from Gartner who fail miserably to do real research on new technologies......but they thrive in this environment as business frustration grows.....
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #3887
Bravo @Karl the myopia of the modern, as one might say.
I recall that "modern art" typically refers to Cubism and Constructivism and other such things popular in the West from 1900 to 1930 or so. Interestingly, one of the aspects of modern art that most people are familiar with is the disassembly of images, the better to rearrange things in a novel order. Picasso's portraits are an example.
Why bring this up?
Because the idea of the modern is to take responsibility for our life and work beyond the comforts of culture. Modernism is inherently revolutionary. Modernism is about not accepting the way things are, but re-arranging how we view things in novel ways, for various reasons..
I see BPM as having this potential too, but only if as true modernists we do the work of disassembling our work into its constituent parts, the better to re-assemble for greater efficiency and effectiveness. The definition of BPM technology I've proposed takes this "from the ground up" approach.
Any DBP that neglects the atomic constituents of whatever the platform is intended to support is thus anti-modern. A DBP is justified if based on science and responsibility. Otherwise it's marketing hype and black-box managerialism.
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