Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Process and Bots Dancing Together

Processes are just about everywhere in organizations. They are in simple workflows. They certainly are guiding customer experiences. They are deeply embedded in transaction based systems, both legacy and purchased. They are even popping up as process snippets at the edge in IoT collaborations with sensors, controllers and machines. Now RPA is going every where too through simple software bots that complete work tasks that humans don't really want to do initially. Eventually bots will become smarter and do more complex work as the march to smart automation progresses. How will these work managers coordinate and cooperate now? What will the dance be like in the future between processes and bots?

Today It is Process Orchestration

Processes(BPM) and Software Bots (RPA) work well and in a clear fashion in that processes control the flow of these bots and the bots complete their tasks on the command of the processes that are likely better practice sequence of routine work. They tend to be well worn paths and the process controls the direction and bots dig down and do some of the work, mostly tedious human activity or messy systems integration today. There are pretty clear boundaries and there is some pretty impressive benefits of combining these forms of automation together. The case studies are starting to stream out into the public eye.

The Near Future is About Cooperation

As processes and bots become smarter with the infusion of multiple forms of AI (machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP) and decision based (Analytics, Decision Models and Heuristics), the starting point will likely manage the direction of the next best action. Tasks will become smarter as they take on more complex work therefore bots will sometimes determine the orchestration sequence. Processes will be come smarter and more emergent in nature as they work to milestones as well to proven sequences. Processes and Bots will become cooperating peers working towards common outcomes. The directing force will likely be the smartest one (process or bot) for the situation of  successful work completion at the time. In some cases, it might be a customer or employee that is super-charged with knowledge or situational analysis. Kind of like the airplane pilots (both civil and defense pilots) of today except for business outcomes; not flight performance.

Long Range It's Goal Driven Autonomy for Both

The future of the process-bot dance will be radically different than today. As bots become smarter and able to operate autonomously (like swarming agents), they will bid on on work, complete the work with what ever resources are best at the moment and will leverage prefabricated process snippets (small process chunks that represent proven work sequences) and be led by goals and guided by constraints (governance guard rails). The real process is likely to be a mined picture of what happened for audit trail and optimization purposes.

Net; Net:

It's clear to me that process and bots will be dance partners for a long time. The kind of dances will be varied and even emergent. These automation partners will continue for a long time, but the mix of control will be varied and hybrid in nature. Sometimes the process will control the flow and sometimes the goals will control the flow. Bots and processes will be both master and servant at different times and in different circumstances to deliver desirable outcomes moving forward. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Top Five On Ramps for RPA

Robotic Process Automation(RPA) seems to be everywhere these days and even on the lips of those who are in the C-suite. RPA has proven itself as able to reduce or eliminate low level tasks, particularly in processes. The momentum is strong at the moment and any sight of an economic downturn will drive organizations for more operational cost reductions. Just because Process (P) is in the name, it doesn't mean that there aren't other opportunities to leverage RPA in other contexts. Even if you have mined out RPA in process, there are still other opportunities to leverage RPA as it is combined with other intelligent software thus expanding to more complex work/tasks.

Business Process On Ramp:

There is still significant benefit left in discrete processes besides low level process tasks, particularly if there are any documents involved with the process/workflow. Often a number of steps in forms scanning, data recognition, data deployment and forms flow can be assisted by RPA along with email related activities. There is more potential in creating completely automated processes (straight through processing) as well. As the scope of RPA expands to end to end processes and chunks of related processes, more benefits will emerge. There are still more benefits to mine.

Infrastructure Management On Ramp:

The care and feeding of the infrastructure is ripe with task to automate, especially when it comes to monitoring tasks and taking automatic actions. This true even if most of your work is done in the cloud. Since most organizations are still operating in a hybrid cloud environment, there are many tasks that can be automated in an around operating job streams, processes and applications. The health of the infrastructure as a whole with all the contributing pieces, especially the network, are a natural for RPA. The opportunities abound here.

Development On Ramp: 

While low-code is the darling of development at the moment, there is still room for RPA to play a role. There are many tasks in and around the testing environments that are ripe for RPA. Also there are many tasks that are executed on a regular basis in promoting and demoting code and change versions from test to business testing and production environments. Any time there are mirrored environments (a best practice), there will be opportunities for RPA to contribute.

Resource Assistance On Ramp:

Resources are crucial for applications and processes to complete work. Some of these resources will be carbon based, others will be software and some will be machines. These resources, especially humans, need to be assisted with just in time data, information, content and knowledge. The more complex the task, the more RPA, especially intelligent RPA can help complete work. This is especially true of customers that interact through their specific custom journeys that require dynamic interaction with an organizations processes and applications. This is an emergence set of opportunities likely sparked by more complex tasks.

Dynamic Supply/value Chain on Ramp:

RPA bots will be come more intelligent over time to the point of becoming autonomous agents that can bid for work in a dynamic fashion, complete the work and report results. These agents/bots can participate in dynamic supply chains which are the backbone of Industry 4.0 efforts. These agents/bots, either hardware or software, can participate in linking partners together dynamically through agent representation and execution to complete tangible products and/or soft products with value chains. This is a new area for RPA and will emerge in the next few years.

Net; Net:

Some would say that there is an RPA bubble, but it is clear to me that there is more to do especially when RPA is combined with other technologies such as process management, process mining, analytics, and all forms of AI. There is an eventual end of the road if RPA isolates itself, but I'm not seeing that right now.

More Posts on RPA: 

Future of RPA
Automation 2019
Process and RPA 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Automation 2019; Adding Intelligence

Robotic Process Automation(RPA) has been stealing the spotlight on automation. Task automation is real and beneficial, but there is more to automation than just RPA. Let's take a look at more contributors to the ever growing automation theme and more specifically, what will happen in 2019. The key theme for 2019 is that automation will become more intelligent through the addition of more context, analytics and AI. Here is my take on several forms of Intelligent Automation which may range from full automation to intelligent assistance. Although automation is doing fairly well in technical automation, it is barely scratching the surface in business automation.

Intelligent Task Management (RPA) 

As RPA continues with success, it will need to become more intelligent to expand the kind of tasks it automates or even assists. RPA will take on more than repetitive and simple tasks leading to more technical and business benefits. Besides creating bot markets by RPA vendor biospheres, RPA vendors will start to include process mining, analytics and machine learning in 2019. Intelligence will be needed to take on more complex tasks and large process scopes to start to deliver on the promise of swapping people for software/hardware bots.

Intelligent Processes (BPM)

Processes will also increase their automation potential from simple straight through processing with discrete processes to more wide ranging and even end to end processes. The goal here will be  operational excellence and consider the process as a key context to add intelligence represented by process mining, in flight algorithms and real time machine learning. Since processes are often the orchestration engines of delivering outcomes, processes will be smart enough to select the smartest resource to do the job. This orchestration capability will range from small process snippets the edge to discrete processes to end to end processes. The trend will be to more autonomy directed by additional intelligence thus promoting more emergent actions.

Intelligent Resources (Workers, Software or Machines)

Every resource that has not been displaced in a static or dynamic process, driven by outcomes or goals and constrained by boundaries, will start to be assisted by adding intelligence. It maybe static documentation or assistants brought up in context (the intelligent part) or it could be smart assistants the provide knowledge from lakes of data at real time speed to assist in detecting patterns to take intelligent actions in a specific contexts or a mixture of overlapping contexts. This will likely combine AI and analytics in many new and dynamic ways. Self healing will become a natural outcome for all resources even if healing means just in time knowledge. This will go deep into software infrastructure and networks.

Intelligent Decisions (Decisions or BI)

Decisions will start to leverage decision journeys to identify known and unknown triggers, known and unknown pattern, known or unknown contexts, known or unknown contexts and known or unknown strategies/scenarios. Algorithms and explainable AI capabilities will be used to interrogate data and even postulate appropriate responses. For stable decisions Decision Modeling (DMN) will strongly emerge in 2019. For all decisions a repository with search and cataloging features will emerge in the coming years.

Intelligent Customer Experience (Customers or Partners)

The Customer experience will be the main driver of organizations, going forward, thus a dependence on static and dynamic customer journeys. Unlike the decision journey the customer journey adds emotions and opinions to the journey. The customer experience will be designed and altered by the journey map that will become more intelligent and real time in nature. Measuring emotions, leveraging natural language processing, adding knowledge to assist the customer and adapting the journey to meet the need of the moment within the context of past customer knowledge and behavior will be the challenge. In other words the combined and balanced next best action for the customer and the organization. This means that there will be a new and dynamic balancing of operational excellence and customer experience goals with the help of additional and explainable intelligence applied correctly at the right time.

Net; Net: 

Automation in 2019 will take on new dimensional intelligence as automation is applied to more complex tasks in shifting/emerging contexts. The potential for automation will be unlimited over time, but there will be some key starting points initiated in 2019 and some foundations for the future.

More 2019 Predictions:

Future of RPA
Digital Trends
Process Trends

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Thank You Aragon Research !

As of January 18, 2019 I will be leaving Aragon Research to be independent again. I really want to thank Aragon Research as I was given freedom to define new markets and interact with some very special folks. At Aragon I was able to further refine the Digital Business Platform(DBP) that I roughly outlined in October 2015  and create a Customer Journey Mapping rating for Aragon. Besides covering BPM, RPA and Low-Code I was able to learn about many new areas in and around collaboration.

Aragon has shown brilliance in establishing Video Research as a leading way to consume research.  Leveraging Aragon's Technical Spectrum allows analysts to work in early markets for which I am grateful. In addition to these ground breaking approaches to markets and research, Aragon established "Hot Vendors" for vendors that offer unique and valuable products and services for clients. I will certainly miss the genius of Jim Lundy as leader of research and CEO.

I will miss Adrian Bowles for his great insights and close collaborations. I will miss Ken Dulaney for his sense of adventure with new gadgets. I will certainly miss the great support of our marketing folks in Patricia Lundy, Kadie Woodford and Colt Kneder. I really appreciated the timely payments from our CFO Paddy Sweeny-Lundy :)  Our sales folks were a blast to work with to close deals. Thanks Bob Sweeney and James Lundy. Last, but not least is our tireless admin Elsa Perez. I had a great time with the tight family atmosphere and will miss our great offsite activities.

Now onto new adventures going forward :)  Keep in touch with me leveraging the following:

Art Site

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Process in 2019

Processes have traditionally been the glue that coordinates and orchestrates tasks and resources together in a visible and accountable fashion. This theme will continue, but in new ways and approaches based on the popular drivers of 2019. I have identified three major themes for process in 2019 and they are as follows:

Customer Experience will be the major driver of process behavior, so we will see a convergence of customer mapping, human computer interface and visible explainable intelligence working in concert to serve customers, employees and partners in an ever improving fashion. There will be an emergence of emotion detection analysis and appropriate tone driven actions guided by intelligent assistants in 2019. There will be an emphasis on customer journey mapping in several ways. One is to create journey maps from actual customer behavior. This is great for incremental improvement and optimization for both the customer and organizational perspectives. The other is to create a target map for new and innovative journeys that may lead to new business models and better customer outcomes.

      Automation will continue to advance to beyond simple tasks to groups of intelligent and simple tasks dynamically orchestrated across multiple time periods with process from real time and straight through unattended activities to high touch skilled activities that require collaboration, mining assisted, cognitive assisted human decisions and actions over time. Automation should focus on end to processes that are directed by set of changing goals and guided by governance constraints. Automation will also increase it's scope to enhancing and automating resources that may or may not be tied to actual processes. Humans will be augmented with knowledge, machine learning and algorithms to become more powerful as they interact with processes and other process participants and resources. Software will be augmented with real time feedback and aggregated process mining results. Machines will also take part in the end to end processes and will be part of the overall orchestrations that lead to desired outcomes. 

Actions at the Edge of process reach will push intelligent and dynamic actions in and around mostly IoT enabled work. Goal driven and constraint guided processes of various size and scopes will be acting at the edge in an autonomous fashion thus putting a premium on better forms of decision management and action control. Patterns will be detected close to the action of processes and dealt with at the point through both decisions and actions with or without a centralized approach. Freedom levels will be established through goals and constraints. These type of processes are likely to small scoped and localized, but coordinated collaboratively with end to end processes.

Net; Net:
Process will start to exhibit new behaviors and forms in 2019. Processes will play a bigger role in end to end processes, but they will also play a major roles as snippets at the edge. Processes are evolving to support the needs of the evolving digital efforts that are emerging over time. Processes as a whole are becoming inclusive of emergent behavior as well as fixed and known behaviors and any mix of both to meet the balanced outcomes of both customers and organizations. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Art for 4Q 2018

I've always wanted to paint a butterfly, so this quarter I decided to go for it. While work has kept me too busy for the last year, I still managed to get this done over the Christmas / New Year period. I had completed a couple fractals while on a  several business trips in the airplane. I hope you like at least one of these :)

                       Please see my other pieces at www.james-sinur.com

                                                                 Fly Away 

                                                               Pink Burst 

                                                              Sea Weed 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Top 5 Digital Trends for 2019

2019 is going to be a very different year than the past few years. 2017 was a "pedal to the metal" year where almost all were making forward momentum with digital. 2018 started strong, but there was a shift to "steady speed" over acceleration. Many economic experts are now predicting a slight dip in growth which means businesses will be hovering their foot above the break pedal just in case the turmoil in the markets takes a sharp turn.  What does this mean for business investment in Digital? This blog will be my best shot at predicting the likely trends.

The Business Context for 2019

The business focus is going to hit hard on operational efficiency and effectiveness as this plays well in any kind of market. There will be a laser focus on leveraging what works well to manage the cost side of the business equation. Even though revenue opportunities may be less than in past years, organizations will still create better experiences for prospects and customers. Businesses will try to attract customers away from their traditional and non traditional competitors. There will be a larger rush for talent that is being hard sought already with the low unemployment rates that look to persist for the next year. There will be a big effort to hire experience, especially in the rare digital skill arenas. Growing competencies and skills will be a big theme inside and outside organizations.

The Digital Focus in 2019

Given the business context above, the efforts will be on applying intelligence to every digital opportunity organizations take. This means a narrowing down of the digital focus to what delivers cost saving best or new customer revenue the most. All of this must be done in a fashion that supports agility while gleaning benefits. Last year I identified 10 areas of digital focus and this year because of the democratization of AI, I can focus it down to the five that follow here:

Intelligent Automation

RPA has been a great boon to operational productivity, especially when combined with its propensity to leverage low code techniques. RPA cuts costs and delivers a better experience for certainly employees which leaches over to customers. RPA will become smarter by leveraging machine learning driven mining techniques to automate even more tasks. The bots will start developing an IQ to expand its influence from brawn activities to now include brain activities.

Intelligent Interactions

Customer focused and reputation rich activities will expand to include optimizations that include customer needs; not just organizational needs. Customer optimization platforms will go beyond organizational goals to include customer goals and include conversational AI where needed. New and improved journeys will emerge through both the measurement and modeling of customer journeys. Modeling will be used to understand the customers journey now and map future paths that serve the customer better without losing organizational goals. This will include suggesting changes where both the customer and the organization win. 

Intelligent Processes

While processes may become smaller in scope with less central control, they will be come smarter and closer to the action. Making processes goal driven and constraint governed with intelligence will allow them to exist on the edge including in IoT heavy solutions. By adding machine intelligence and mining activities, processes can be guided by looking at actions in real time or over time. These processes, process snippets or mini-workflows will become more popular in 2019

Intelligent Decisions

Making decisions just by studying data is a solid approach that needs augmentation. While the amount of data to study is growing at amazing rates, this does not mean it is the only area to focus in on for decisions. This is what I call decisions by discovery. It also important to identify scenarios, opportunities and threats that can impact behavior and operational responses. Identifying these important decisions, modeling them and allowing them to be translated in to advice to humans and directions for actions for software and machines of critical. Adding AI and algorithm approaches to scenario planning and key decisions is critical. Modeling most decisions in a business representation another intelligent step that is gaining momentum.

Intelligent Resources

Resources whether they be humans, software or machines, will benefit from timely additional intelligence provided by just in time events, patterns, images, content, and knowledge given in single or multiple contexts. These data sources could be mined by multiple machine learning assists and even amplified by single or multiple algorithms. These resources graduate from simple and specialized in nature to become smarter and supercharged for complexity. These resources can now handle ever changing work loads and conditions with great recognition, decision and action powers for organizations.

Net; Net:

Businesses will be more pragmatic than ever in 2019, but they will not overlook the advantages that intelligence can add to their automation and revenue raising activities. Intelligent organizations will watching for signs ahead to decelerate or accelerate when appropriate. Focusing on adding intelligence to already successful efforts will pay off in 2019. The opportunity to add intelligence is significant in 2019 and will continue for the future