Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Digital Business Platforms are Emerging Quickly

It's been just over six months since I started writing about the Digital Business Platform(DBP) and started hearing about some early providers claiming to have a DBP. Organizations are either looking to build or buy a core DBP to augment over time. I have good news for both types of organizations. For those trying to build one, Aragon Research allowed me to define just what a DBP was and the likely behaviors and capabilities of such a platform would be for now and the future. Below is a link to the research note and a diagram that is at the heart of the research note.The link to the note is here  for those that are not clients of Aragon Research.

The other piece of good news is that Aragon Research encouraging me to rate the existing DBPs for those organizations that want to buy a core DBP.  Look for the Technical Spectrum rating note for DBPs coming out in fall of 2016. If you want to hear more on digital disruption, please join me for a webinar on June 24th at 10:00 AM PT. Please register here

Please see additional blog posts on the DBP. 

Raw Definition:     http://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2015/10/creating-digital-business-platform.html
Potential DBPs:     http://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2015/10/selecting-technology-partners-for-your.html
The DBP Refined: http://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-disruptive-rise-of-digital-business.html

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Looking Forward to Pegaworld 2016

There are many good conferences out there, but there are only a handful I really get excited about. Pegaworld is one to get pumped about. It's mainly because there are so many great customer stories. Yes I love hearing Alan Trefler and his vision for Digital and hearing Kerim Akgonal talk lovingly about new features his team has built, but I really get excited about hearing about real organizations going through digital transformation. If you want the skinny from real organizations on their digital journeys, there is no better place than Pegaworld. I am going again for the fourth year in a row and I expect some great customer stories. Though I also expect so see some exciting chess and ping pong games going on as well. You can check the agenda yourself to see if I am on the mark or not.

This is an event where you can learn about great customer relationship management and better customer experiences. You can learn about how the fourth industrial revolution is going to play out plus real world application of the IoT. You can learn how to drive innovation and set customers expectations for change, You can learn about connected Healthcare and many approaches organizations have taken to Digital Transformation. Since Pega is one of the first Digital Business Platforms that is being leveraged in many digital transformations today, there is no reason for non Pega clients not to come and listen to the lessons learned. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Net; Net:

Pegaworld is for everyone and I'm thrilled to be partnering with Pegasystems to take part in the festivities. By the way, they will be featuring the Goo Goo Dolls on Monday night if that is your cup of tea. I've seen them before and they are a treat. I hope to see you there. Pegaworld link

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tibco Now Reveals New Goals and Improvements

There are 2000+ at the Tibco Now conference as we speak and it's been over 18 months since we have heard from the Tibco brain trust on their plans for moving forward. After going private, there were rumblings, but all I see is sensible management. Tibco is embracing digital with all it's strength now that many of the unnecessary technologies have been stripped away. There is a sensible plan being executed, focused on their customers digital journey to get to a digital destination!  I like what I see so far, but I will be watching the deeds as well as the words. Thomas Been has been our gracious host and hopefully I can transmit the happenings well.

Emphasis on Helping Clients Get to Industry 4.0 Where the Line Between People & Machines Blur

Tibco is orienting it's remaining products into core versus edge to keep their offerings solid for clients as they reach for digital. Tibco wants to leverage both it's known strengths to help clients in their digital journey. First this integration giant wants to interconnect everything including people and to promote process like never before. Secondly Tibco wants to augment it's intelligence technologies to give organizations the edge in digital competition. These are reasonable core goals and I am interested in how much they really push process over the long haul. Based on some of the client case studies, I think Tibco will be drawn into a process world. While this has been a goal of Tibco in the past, the focus on their customers digital journey is laser sharp. Tibco wants to push the cloud like its competitors, wants to excel in ease of use and wants to expand into more man / machine interaction. These are good goals.

The Future of Digital is Amazing:

Tibco hired futurist Ray Kurzweil to paint a picture of where technology is headed. He believes, rightly so that 3D printing, bio friendly tech, and cognitive supercharging of humans and operations is the way of the future. There was an example given that showed the assistance of 3D printing for creating body parts that would not be rejected to heal a child (wind pipe repairs). Dr Kurzweil gave an example of bio-friendly machines that could be injected to monitor or fix our bodies. He then suggested our brains could be supercharged by plugging into a synthetic brain in the cloud. That was interesting, but I believe that there will be a large array cognitive services in the cloud that will be human and API leveraged first. Certainly technology is getting faster and cheaper to assist our knowledge and brains, but I'm not sure of the real time connector from my brain to the cloud :) I'm not interested in an embedded chip, so .... 

The key kernel of wisdom from the good doctor was that no organization or person could stand still and ignore what's coming down the line. Organizations had better build an incremental transformation plan and innovate. Learn from your mistakes and iterate. Tibco gets it, but I fully expected an announcement saying what Tibco was doing to leverage brain power and knowledge in the cloud, like other competitors have. Certainly Tibco has strong analytic capabilities to bring to bear to operational problems. 

An Acceleration of Augmentation of Intelligence with Compound Analytic Visualizations:

Tibco has been a master at interconnecting things and analyzing what these things are doing in near real time or not.  Tibco now wants to generate actions from the dynamic and compound analysis plus visualization. To that end Tibco is providing suggestions for proper visualization and analysis out of the box to take the average BI user to be somewhat competitive to a low end data scientist. This is a great direction. There were several examples that took us from visualization through compound analytic results to suggested or obvious visually suggested actions. 

An Augmentation Through Streaming Analytic Capabilities:

Tibco has been strong in event and pattern recognition to help clients anticipate and act properly based on large amounts of near real time data. Both the bear and the fish need to anticipate and react in their respective worlds to compete for life. There was an extensive explanation of oil field management and oil well optimization to avoid shut downs from too much pressure in individual wells. 

Net; Net:

Tibco has great goals and is proving daily that it can help clients on their digital journey. Many great improvements were showcased, but the one that caught my eye was the new graph data base that looks to be ideal for recording events, emerging patterns and processes. This might very well be Tibcos future secret sauce to handling enterprise level big data driven connections, compound analytic operations and real time streaming. 

There were lots of great focused case studies, awards and presentations. It was well worth my time and I would do it again in a heart beat. This was a much improved event for Tibco and certainly better focused for the client wanting to attend their digital journeys. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Benefits of Optimizing Manual Operations

You don't hear much about organizations tackling the glut of manual processes that they have. While one can get attracted by the digital efforts that are in the headlines today, there is also great opportunity in optimizing manual processes. The funds saved modeling here could drive funding for your digital efforts.While it would be great to automate as many manual processes as possible, there is also still low hanging fruit in the manual process arena. Even a fresh update of the operations manuals would do well to add benefit, but that's another topic. There are three major ways to squeeze benefits out of crafted processes. One is it gain consensus on the manual process, another is to optimize that process in its manual state and finally automating key portions of the manual process.

1. Build Consensus:

Quite often processes gather dust and get old. Sometimes the same process get re-invented and implemented by individual departments, divisions and even geographies. Sometimes the reason for the process evaporates and the process keeps humming along producing unneeded results. The law of entropy applies to processes as well as machines, people and organizations. By spending time understanding and sharing the processes around visibly, the time investment pays off in the complete deletion of tasks or the whole process. Putting the light on dark corners of an organizations process really is eye opening and may allow for some consolidation and changes that add more value and reduce costs. $$$$

2. Optimize the Crafted Process:

Need processes can always use optimization over time. By visually presenting the existing processes. new options for tuning the process will surface during the discussions if the right tone is set and the proper rewards are stated. Sometimes job, department and skill boundaries can be changed to optimize the results and costs.  $$$

3. Automate Wisely:

Some processes are screaming for automation and this is where some of the new digital options will appear to be helpful. Maybe some of the tasks in the crafted processes could be replaced. Maybe the whole process could use some advanced automation. Perhaps there might be tasks available from the market to include in your processes. A real mistake would be to try to automate 100% the processes without some judgement. The law of diminishing returns could play here, if one is not careful. $$$$$

Real World Results:

Here are some interesting results that are pleasing to the eye:

A major food manufacturer broke functional silos
An electronic organization increased speed 34 fold to access and execute localized processes
A large oil company was able to optimize processes visually
A large financial organization reduced its cost of interaction by more than five fold
A large bank stated that restructure would take half the time

There were many more to use.

Net; Net:

Not only are there hard benefits and speed increases, modeling provides a step change in ways of working while looking to find innovative ways of staying ahead with digital. This is an essential building block for many organizations going to the new digital world. Understanding current operations, changing operations for funding sources and mapping the future are in the wheel house of modeling.

My Current Favorite Vendors to Model and Understand (**):

IBM BlueWorks, I:vis, Q9 Elements. Interfacing Tech, Major Oak, QPR, Signavio, Software AG, Tibco & Trisotech

My Current Favorite Vendors to Automate After Understanding: (physical modeling **)

AgilePoint, Appian, Bonitasoft, DST, EMC, IBM, ManyWho, Metasonic, Newgen, Nintex, OpenText, PNMsoft Pegasystems,  SAG, Tibco, W4,  Work Relay & XMPro

** There are many more players that are in the market that could be a favorite one day :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Modeling Wars

While we might all agree there are great benefits to modeling processes, decisions, goals or data, but there are major disagreements on modeling methods, standards and the object is the most important to model. Let's examine the areas of friction in and around modeling. I've identified five areas of friction, but I imagine there are more issues that are lurking below the surface like there is only data or there are only rules.

Model the Logical or Physical:

A common argument often revolves over modeling the target logical model instead of the physical implementation model as it represents the pure need and would include things like operational manuals skipped by the implementer. The implementation folks usually argue that the logical model is eventually not reality and synchronizing both is an impossible task. Some organizations use the logical model as a specification and throw the logical away as soon as the physical model emerges. Those who believe in rapid innovation say create the implementation quickly and fail fast. I prefer to do a rough logical model that includes operations manuals and iterate to completion.

Model to the Standards or Not:

Many folks believe in modeling standards and say that standard modeling makes training, communicating and attracting instant contributors from outside the organization easier. There is also a benefit from moving models around from one vendor to another without nasty conversions when switching to another platform already inside the organization or even a new one, There are those that say the standards are difficult to work with and miss key nuances that make a difference. Why use clunky standards when they just slow things down. I prefer ease of development over standards, but I get tempted to iterate rather than model to perfection.

Model Cases over Processes:

There is a brewing argument that the Case Management Modeling Notation (CMMN) is very close to Business Process Management Notation (BPMN) and could be easily extended to support cases. If BPMN would include goal modeling, I would agree because cases work to milestone goals and flow can take a back seat.

Model Decisions over Processes:

There is also a growing debate weather processes embed decisions or if decisions are on top as they determine the tasks to perform. I think you need both for very complex processes and decision. They should work together, but Decision Modeling Notation (DMN) is the new kid on the block and doesn't get the respect it deserves.

Model Goals over Processes:

The real odd man out is goal modeling as processes and decisions used to be pretty rigid and unchanging. As both decisions and rules become more fluid, goal modeling makes more sense. The goals remain and the goal target could change, but the path of decisions and process tasks can vary greatly. Goal and constraint modeling should get more attention than it does. Just saying.

Net; Net:

Modeling is great, but it is full of religious wars. What ever models you embrace, decide at the front of the project and stick to your selection unless it looks to need major adjustment. This is unlikely as fluid processes /cases are usually known up front and approaches can be selected to support them

Monday, May 9, 2016

To Model or Not to Model?; That is the Question

Today there are many options to develop processes and applications. There is great debate in and around modeling representation and even the need to model. Before we get into the representation issues, let's think about the reasons to model in the first place. We know there is great pressure to get to code quickly to show results. There are better ways to compose code, APIs and leverage low code approaches that might lead one away from models. After all models generally don't execute directly or do they? Though models might not seem to get to code as quickly, they certainly help to code the right solution to meet the needs. There are three great reasons to create a visual model, in my mind, and five kinds of helpful models for developing processes and application components. Image of a sample goal model below:

Top Reasons to Model:

Visualize the Connections Between Resources:

Often management, customers, partners and employees think they understand the operational efforts needed to complete work, but in reality, they don't. Certainly there is not a common understanding of operational processes and applications in the all of the contexts and views held by the collective participants. Creating an agreed upon visual representation gives a solid construct for explanation to all managers and participants. By combining the different views and perspectives into a whole model, common understanding is the likely outcome. The model identifies all the participants roles, decisions, actions and results.

Gain a Common Understanding of the Current Situation:

Quite often there are dark events, processes, data, events and patterns to each of the participants in an application or process that may have been created by their organizational position, role or specialty. By better understanding the moving parts and how they contribute to business outcomes can make existing processes and applications work better even without making any change in the base process or application. If changes are being considered the current state models can either enable better approaches or reminding developers or participants of crucial constraints.

Create a Consensus on a Future Solution:

Gaining consensus on a set of target processes and applications is essential in all transformations, but especially in digital transformations. Creating a group of participants to define a new way forward and enabling them with models allows for faster progress. Models can be used to verify if the new solution is correct from a number of perspectives outside the core design group. Also it allows management to understand the sticking points in big change and engage participants early in the change process.

Top Development Models:

Customer Journey Models:

Often organizations are blinded by the strengths and limits of their products, services and organizations and imagine what customers want. Customer journey models, if used with customer interaction, will create better processes and applications that actually deliver outcomes desirable by customers.

Process Models:

Process models represent the sequences of decisions, actions towards goal fulfillment and dashboard results and are helpful creating processes, application components and tasks . While great for happy path processes with limited exceptions, they can be constructed for limited emerging conditions. A plus of a process model is that it also identify resources involved with business outcomes.

Decision Models:

Decision models represent the logic behind a decision and all the logical paths of complex decision combinations. For simple decisions models can be skipped, but often complex logic is needed to get to results. This means that decision models are quite helpful in describing processes and applications.

Goal Models: 

Specifying goals and their relationships to contributing sub-goals are essential to processes and applications that are either emergent or agile in nature. In this case the sequence is less important than the actual outcomes. In volatile contexts, goal driven processes and applications dominate.

Data Models:

Data that is operational and static in nature can benefit from having models that show described entities and relationships. Even in emerging data environments there are helpful models that represent a growing ontology or other data patterns.

Net; Net:

Modeling can be helpful for creating target process and application specifications as long as "analysis paralysis" is avoided. Models can be created at various level of detail and linked to more detail for complete specifications for development. Keep in mind there are many more business models that are equally helpful as those needed to develop processes and applications for broader contexts. These include business, value, revenue, market channels, customer segments, organizational, knowledge, architectural models etc.