Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween

There are many reasons to celebrate Halloween. There is the celebration of the harvest and the laughing in death's face as traditional reasons. There is also the chance to be someone else and garner fun and some candy as more modern reasons. On the serious side,  I just was hoping we would all take stock in our blessings, so we can continually give thanks for the blessings we have these days among the turmoil that is bubbling world wide today.

On the less serious side, we have an excuse to have some good fun. To that end I though I'd like to share one of my best friends, Donnie Crists new song.(hit the band camp link).  It is so appropriate for Halloween. Its called Girl Friend Frankenstein. She broke his heart, so he is putting on the train out of his life. Also as an ironic twist, my artist son Andys (RIP) Dia De Los Muertos costume. He was a gifted artist. Checkout the face paint job below.

Have a great Halloween season, but don't forget to think about your blessings as they can all of a sudden disappear.

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:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's Going Live Soon: Big Hero 6

Two days before the four month mark of Andy's leaving this earth, BH6 is premiering on Nov 7. This is another installment of great hits from the team Andy worked with until July 9th this year. He was lucky to have worked on "Wreck It Ralph" and "Frozen" and gave it everything he had for BH6 like he lived his life with his family. I only hope people go and enjoy the latest and most advanced 3D animation to date along with a story that will thrill you.  See the latest and last trailer below.

Andy will enjoy it from a different perspective now

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Iot: What Does Your Thing Look Like?

I think when someone mentions the Internet of Things (IoT), they get a picture in their mind of what a thing is and what it might do. I would guess that if you ask a dozen different people, you would get as many answers. It is very easy to over simplify "a thing" or picture something off the wall like I have in the image below.

I think there is a simpler way of communicating about your "thing" or groups of things. The figure below has certainly helped me understand each "thing" and some of their important characteristics. Obviously there are many attributes that each thing could have and operate on, but the chart below gets at a basic description of a thing, along with a name and identifier, that can help folks understand "things in basic context".  There are four basic vectors to help me describe things and what they are capable of in terms of basic behavior. Obviously, there are details around communication methods, patterns sensed, analysis completed, decisions made and potential actions taken that are crucial details that must be described as well. My quick classification scheme considers the level of humanity, the level of intelligence, the level of collaboration and the freedom to seek set goals.

Level of Humanity:

Things can literally be as simple as a sensor or an actuator or a complex as a intuitive human. There are also complex robotics or personal knowledge assistants in the middle. Knowing if your thing is really a thing makes a big difference in how they should communicate and interact with your things. Most people do not consider humans as "a thing" in the Internet of Things(IoT), but they should because there will be a balance of interchangeability that will float on this access. Know which resource that is best of the work at hand in a dynamic environment will be a secret sauce in creating desirable outcomes.

Level of Intelligence:

Some things are simple and just sense, collect or fire actions and do not need a bunch of intelligence, but there is a trend to put intelligence closer to the actual events and actions. With that said understanding the raw IQ of your thing will be important when you call upon it as a resource or respond to it when it calls upon you. It's even more important when the things are dynamically collaborating before they involve you, if they do at all. Humans, as managers, may be completely out of the loop with a very intelligent collaboration in or on the IoT. Of course visibility, after the fact is essential, so building a behavior visualization will be important.

Level of Collaboration:

There are four levels that are helpful in understanding if you have the right level of collaboration in your thing(s). The first level would be basic communication which allows your thing to emit or accept messages or parameters. The next level up would be basic coordination between your thing and other things. The next level would be cooperation each thing working intimately with other things. The highest level would be knowledge and intelligent collaboration for desired outcomes.

Level of Freedom to Seek Goals:

Each "thing" has a level of freedom to pursue a goal or a combination of goals. While these goals might stay the same, however the level of priority and weighting between these goals may shift. Your thing should be able to shift its behavior based on this weighting shifts. In some situations, your thing might add, change or delete a goal in the goal mix, but this would be a fringe behavior for a thing or a network of things.

Net; Net: 

I have not seen a complete meta model of data that describes a thing and the network that allows things to work together, so the above diagram works for me to understand the impact of my things. I hope you find it useful to visualize where your thing lands on these four vectors. By the way, you can use "thing', agent or personal assistant interchangeably when using this diagram as it applied equally.

Additional Reading:


Blogs Postings:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: The Process Improvement Handbook

Normally, I don't review books because it is not my strength. I tend to gravitate to real world experience applied towards future vision. Most of my case studies are leading edge and big impact situations, but most of the world is wrestling with the everyday incremental improvement needs that organizations demand. In addition, the authors have been grounded in the trenches and getting success for organizations on a daily basis. While I consider this book a primer for everyone, but it has some real use as a reference book needed on any process professionals book shelf.

With the abbreviated table of contents below, I'd like to highlight the sections that really had some significant content:

Coverage includes:

  • The process improvement overview
  • Process maturity
  • Process-Oriented Architecture (POA)
  • Creating a process ecosystem
  • Managing process improvements
  • The process improvement organization
  • Process improvement aptitudes
  • Case examples
  • Process improvement templates and instructions

The overview and maturity sections were quite basic, but helpful for the person interested in getting started their process improvement journey. I really thought the POA and Creating a process ecosystem sections were worth the price of admission. While I thought that change management was a bit understated in the book, I really loved the Case examples as they gave traction to the method implied in the book. In fact the use of the process improvement templates came to life in the case study examples. Personally I would buy the book as a reference for the templates alone. 

Net; Net:

If you are looking for a primer that can lead you to initial successes, this is your book. If you want to challenge your organization to reach to being a modern digital organization, this is not your cup of tea.

Additional books on my shelf:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Art Projects for the Third Quarter 2014

The third quarter was filled with many challenges on the business and personal front, but I managed to produce some art for your pleasure. I completed one abstract painting and several fractals. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them. For more of my art see the following links

Deep Serenity 

Ice Eagle

Rainbow Blooms

Baby Blue

Monday, October 13, 2014

Blog Activity for the 3Q 2014

There has been a shift in interest in the last quarter to the Internet of Things, Visibility and Process Discovery. There is still strong  support for smart processes and case management. The events of interest were PegaWorld, bpmNext and BPM in Banking.

The next hot areas of interest are as follows:

The activity outside of the US is still strong

Net; Net:

The activity around BPM continues to accelerate as the blog numbers exhibit. They have reach a high point of 7000 in August for this blog. This was a 40% growth over 2Q 2014 during the holiday season.

Friday, October 10, 2014

BPM in Banking Conference Delivered Revenue Ideas

We all know process can deliver cost savings, visibility, time to market results and accountability, but can BPM deliver revenue and customer satisfaction that drives revenue? This conference has three major themes of revenue generation, delighting customers and process futures. The financial service industries are trying to leverage the new digital opportunities afforded by BPM and other methods and technologies. I have highlighted some great sessions below

Sorry for the delayed posting on this event, but my computer went haywire and I have been spending most of the week getting it back to some state of acceptance.

Revenue Sessions:

Case Study: AgFirst Farm Credit Bank
Case Study: Using BPM to Increase Revenue and Meet Customer Demand
Scaling Morgan Stanley's Delivery Capabilities Through Idea Generation and Measurement

Customer Satisfaction Sessions:

Business Interactions Changes Forever, Starting Today!
Collaborating with Customers Co-Create Cross Functional Solutions at Citi
Leveraging BPM for Customer Excellence and Revenue Growth

Futures Sessions:

BPM Dodd-Frank and What's Next?
How FIBO Drives Digital Transformation of the Financial Industry
Creating a Foundation for Success, Establishing a BPM Center of Excellence

Net; Net:

This was one of the best events for using process for revenue and satisfaction in addition to the traditional cost savings aspects of BPM. I sure hope they repeat this event with a wider audience eventually. Getting a hold of some of the presentations would be advised for those who did not attend.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Two Worlds Collide Beautifully: Business & Process Management

This blog is my interview with Jonathan Sapir, who is committed to bringing these worlds together with his technology Work-Relay.  Let’s dig into the premise and find out the logic behind bringing these forces together.

Jim: Is the nature of work changing and why?

Jonathan:  The virtualization of the workforce - where employee can work from anywhere - and the virtualization of work - where work may be done by anyone, inside or outside the organization - significantly increases the everyday problems all organizations experience: things falling through the cracks, lag time between tasks, and the lack of visibility over who is doing what when.

Jim: This means that we have to manage transitions better, I assume?

All of these problems come down to work transition - work transition is the silent killer of productivity of every organization. Like a relay race, things quickly fall apart when the transition of the baton between runners falters. In business, the point of transition is hard to see, so it doesn’t get nearly enough attention. But with virtualization of work and the workforce, effectively managing the transition of work becomes a critical success factor.

Jim: This has always been a problem, why such a big deal now?

Typical work transition questions include: How do I know when you are done with your task so I can start mine? How do I know that you completed everything you were supposed to do before I get it so I don’t have to go back and forth to get what I need? How can I make the best decisions and take the right actions if I don’t have all the context I need? How do I know you are working on something, or if something is running late, without having to call or email? It’s hard enough transitioning work successfully to the person down the hall, but when that person works for another company, is somewhere else in the world, and speaks a different language, successful transitions are infinitely more complex.

Jim: The complexity word pops up again. How can the combination of BPM & PM solve that?

I think there has always been an artificial barrier between process management and project management. Project managers certainly have no interest in learning BPMN to run their projects. But every project of course is based on an implicit process, so if you are able to give project managers a way to easily exploit the process explicitly, there is an enormous amount of benefit to be gained. So while the benefit of having a time dimension for recurring processes is useful in being able to proactively manage resources and possible bottlenecks, it becomes extremely beneficial for unique processes - which are in effect projects.

Jim: So process management manages the resources and project management manages the dynamics of time?

Yes. This combination will help organizations to focus much more attention on work transitions. They need to put in place a simple way to transition work between people inside and outside the organizations, between people and systems, and increasingly, between people and “things”.
Successful transition includes:
        End-to-end visibility over who is doing what, in real-time, reducing the need for status meetings, and increasing the ability to preempt possible problems.
        A common medium through which everyone involved can communicate, including external participants.
        The ability to easily collaborate at transition points, where context is readily available.
        A clear understanding of what is required to be done before the work transition can take place. Because of the short shelf life of knowledge and the transient nature of workers, there has to be a way to provide fresh packages of knowledge to workers when they need to get something done. Includes context - be able to see conversations and decision made along the way.
        The ability to set monitoring thresholds so that notification, reminders and escalations can be automated to reduce lag time between transitions.
        The ability to automate rules to reduce the possibility of error when the transitions take place.
        The ability for work to follow the worker. With mobile, there is no longer some monolithic application to go to to take action - applications are made up of many “mobile moments”, specific functionality designed for specific users. The worker needs to be told when they need to do something, and this notification needs to come with everything they need to do complete the work - without having to go somewhere else. 

Jim: So you decided to build Work-Relay to support both?

Yes. A few years ago, my company built a custom system for a fast food company that was installing a new point-of-sale systems in 6,000 stores across the country. This involved a complex process that required the coordination of many different parties - employees, vendors, contractors, franchises, training, etc. But there was also of course the need to schedule things and allocate resources as needed. Was this a process or a project? Clearly, both.

The reasons they ended up with a custom system because there weren’t any off-the-shelf packages that could do what they needed. As the application we built started to be used by other departments in the company, it became clear that there was a place in the market for a product built from the ground up to address both process and project management as equals. So we took what we had learned and started building a package that could be used by anyone.

Jim: So you decided to build this on Salesforce?

I think it is virtually impossible today to create a product with the scope of Work-Relay from scratch. Building your own infrastructure, databases, networks, social, mobile, and keeping up with the rapid pace of technological innovation just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Salesforce was an obvious choice for us, since it provides all the functionality you need to build - and run - your product out-the-box. And they have hundreds of thousands of clients and millions of users, so they can afford to have the best infrastructure, the best security, develop bleeding edge technology. This way, we get to keep our focus solely on Work-Relay functionality, and users can be assured that they have the power of to ensure availability, performance, scalability – the list is long. And Work-Relay gets to take immediate advantage of the continual stream of enhancements made to the platform by Salesforce.

Jim: So this means you get social, mobile, cloud & big data and other modern technical advantages, but you are stuck if you are not a Saleforce client already?

Every Work-Relay user requires a Salesforce license of some kind - like CRM, platform, community, Chatter. But organizations that don’t already use Salesforce can purchase a version of Work-Relay that includes an embedded Salesforce license. So the product is absolutely not restricted to companies using Salesforce.

Jim: Sounds good in theory. Who’s using it?

One of our early clients is one of the world’s largest clinical research organizations. They run drug trials across the globe. They have literally hundreds of projects running concurrently. The projects are based on processes that include hundreds of steps and many levels of flows within flows. The steps are executed over multiple years by a mixture of employees, vendors, partners and contractors, and a change in one project can impact many other projects. In this kind of environment, it is very difficult to get complete visibility over all projects, and know, in real-time, who is doing what when. This makes it extremely difficult to identify critical changes and their impact across the projects. Work-Relay is providing them with this kind of capability for the first time.

Jim: Is it generally available and where can I find out more details?

We are in limited release mode until the end of the year. At that point, anyone will be able to install it right from Appexchange and be up and running building and deploying processes in minutes.