In an environment defined by growing uncertainty and unpredictability, advantage favors not just the best plans but also the speed of change. Flexibility to move with the tide is essential, but real competitive advantage can be realized with intelligence to interpret the signals that indicate where the tide is headed, and the capability to proactively move in that direction.
Agility, adaptability and foresight are much desired to enable sustainable growth and profitability. And for this, companies of all types want faster and better insights into their planning and operational processes. This starts with first understanding the true nature of your organization, and then being able to model it with the new generation of tools that are becoming available.
Modeling your organization
It would be easy to conceptualize your organization as a machine. Machines can be optimized to do pre-defined jobs well, over and over again. But are very rigid, and expensive and time consuming to modify. Most thriving organizations today are very complex, evolving constantly and adapting to changing environments. They are more akin to a living organism, with a nervous system that helps them process inputs from external or internal systems, correlate them into meaningful signals, process them and trigger reactions according to pre-established patterns, and adapt to situations based on past memory. Each of these activities, whether it is data collection or decision making or triggering reactions can be classified as a sub-system that has unique characteristics and can adapt to different business needs in different domains. Effective coordination between these sub-systems enables the organization to react fast and solve complex problems in real-time and sometimes even before a stimulus arrives.
Intelligent business process management
This growing demand for enterprise operational intelligence has given rise to a new, “smarter” variety of tools that can optimally drive and automate these sub-systems, leveraging recent technological advances to attain a degree of operational responsiveness not possible with yesterday’s business process platform. Integrating artificial intelligence, NLP, Machine-learning, complex data processing and decision making algorithms, and contextual access to information and interactivity, Intelligent business process management is the next generation of enterprise BPM, the central nervous system for your adaptive and evolving organization.
BPM technology has been around for ages, primarily encompassing structured workflow tools and traditionally focused on individual processes. IBPM is the evolution of the BPM from a machine economy to a knowledge economy where human capital is now the biggest asset. Business and processes rely on people’s knowledge, experience and intuition to get much of the work in modern businesses done. Intelligent BPM can connect your people, processes and system together across the entire organization.
Enterprise processes typically span one or more, and often times all of the below sub-systems. Many of these are handled by different functional roles and teams, and at different times. A modern IBPMs platform will enable building, integrating and executing all of these activities.
Data collection and Decision support
Data flows into an organization’s knowledge base from all sorts of sources – day to day interactions of its employees with one another or external collaborators, data collected from the field via audits, surveys and more, data sourced from partners and customers via interactions with the organizations digital assets, or data derived from third party sources.
Different organization processes may have different functions for collecting and managing the data, and different tools to do so. Field sales teams may be visiting customers and collecting data, HR teams may be sourcing resumes from potential employees, procurement teams may be on-boarding potential vendors and collecting pricing data, operational teams may be collecting data from user transactions and interactions on websites and mobile apps etc.
Unstructured data is akin to being exposed to a barrage of audio/ visual stimuli. Our processing systems get over-whelmed, and soon everything gets classified as noise. To derive meaningful insights from data, the collection tools should be coupled well with analytics and planning tools, and elements of machine learning that can help extract the relevant signals and drive subsequent actions.
An iBPMS suite should provide functionality not just to collect data in a more structured manner, but to also support more intelligent business operations, including real-time analytics, decision support and enhanced mobile, social and collaborative capabilities. Decision support can take many forms. It can be based on analytics where information is made available to processes in real time to create operational Intelligence. It can be in the form of external data that help guide process decisions. It can be algorithmic decision trees that help guide the decision process. Business rules management, Active analytics, continuous intelligence, on-demand analytics, bot-based decision support, and a variety of machine learning (ML) capabilities are essential for a state of the art iBPMS platform to deliver value.
A scalable iBPMS platform needs to integrate a range of other technologies to orchestrate processes and tasks across the entire extended enterprise, thus providing strategic value. In subsequent series of blog articles we will delve deeper into some of these other sub-systems.