Tuesday, October 28, 2014

IoT / Agents: As Business Differentiation Increases

Nothing comes for free in this world and the business differentiation that is now available for organizations to tap is ever increasing, but there is a cost. The interaction of process and the IoT will be essential over time even as these processes can dissolve into process snippets and distinct activities that are loosely coupled at the time of a business need. It is important to understand that there are several classes of processes that the IoT will be interacting with and how the relationship will likely unfold. There are three classes of processes in business today: Structured, Case Collaboration and IoT /Agent Collaboration.


While there are multiple process styles in this category, they all start with planning a process and identifying almost all of the paths and exceptions. Then a process that is quite static and brittle is put into place. Structured processes work best for standard and simple outcomes, but they can be expanded to take advantage of BPM agility and rule agility to make them less static and more adaptable for new business requirements and new exceptions. The relationship between the IoT and these processes is more around the IoT serving the process rather than the other way around. The big process brain controls it all.

Case Collaboration:

More dynamic processes start showing up in case management where the goals and milestones are static, but the paths to these goals can vary. This is very true for knowledge intensive work, where one person does not posses the understanding of solving or completing an individual case. Case collaboration can get even more agile and dynamic when the goals and milestones can change. This is called adaptive case management. The IoT can be used in a couple of scenarios to start. One is that the IoT could contain automated personal assistants in the cloud that could grok large amounts of information from data lakes or produce deep analytic efforts on behalf of the knowledge worker. In this situation the structured part of the process becomes a smaller part of the overall process and evolves to snippets of process sequence or agents / personal assistants. This way you could swap out agents or people at management direction. This introduces more complexity, but the case brain is probably in control with events and patterns fired from the IoT for potential decisions and actions.

IoT / Agent Collaboration:

Imagine a net work of collaborating agents and IoT devices working together to decide what the next step would and would fire off another structured process, a case, or set of agents to meet dynamic goals set by a managing agent. Of course these agent collaborations and actions would have to be bound by constraints as not to violate governance policies or rules. This is a very dynamic approach where the brains of the operation are no longer a central control process or case in charge. In this case goals and constraints with contexts now lead the way. There are real world examples emerging every day. One is the automatic feeding of farm field with water and fertilizer for bigger yields.

Net: Net:

While all this sounds scary, someone will be looking at an audit trail of patterns, collaborations, analysis and actions in the form of a process model to look for evolving better practices, goals and constraints. This is a more complex environment, but is will evolve out of the need to adapt to immediate customer demands who will be mobile, social and informed.

Additional Reading: