Welcome!

Machine Learning Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Ed Featherston

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, @DevOpsSummit

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

The End of Business Process in the Digital Era | @CloudExpo #Cloud #DigitalTransformation

The companies that will profit the most in the Digital Era are the ones that don’t put profit at the center of their efforts

At Intellyx, we often talk about the transition from the Industrial Era to the Digital Era, but other than the transformation of the technology itself, the details have been rather sketchy. It's time to fill in some of the blanks.

This transition has been going on for decades, of course. Another name for the Digital Era is the Information Age, which started at the end of World War II. Yet, while computers and the Internet have fundamentally changed business in several complex and multifaceted ways, we still run our organizations following the familiar patterns of the Industrial Era.

With the modern notion of digital transformation, however, enterprises are chipping away at the fundamental organizational and operational structures that have been with us since the nineteenth century or earlier.

One remarkable casualty: the business process. Business processes have become so ingrained in how we envision large organizations operating and the roles people play within them that relegating them to the scrap heap is almost unimaginable, and unquestionably transformative.

In the Digital Era, however, everything you thought you knew about business processes, and thus how human effort drives productivity and profit in the organizations we work for, is wrong.

The Rise of Business Process
The most significant impact of the Industrial Revolution was how it transformed how people worked. Handwork gave way to the operation of machines - first in factories, but over the years, machine operation came to pervade services industries as well, from banking to transportation to government.

In the early twentieth century, Frederick Winslow Taylor's Principles of Scientific Management followed, crystallizing the distinct roles of workers and management within this industrial context, focusing in particular on how to improve the means of production by making workers more efficient.

This thinking led to the invention of the business process. Using machinery operation as the template, Scientific Management extended processes across the enterprise.

In the Industrial Era, therefore, human work consisted of such process instances strung together, like cogs in a wheel, unceasingly cranking out profits for their companies.

Playing Hopscotch
Today, we have a reasonably solid idea of what we mean by a business process. They consist of a sequence of steps representing tasks or actions, with a clear beginning and an end, which represents a business goal.

Such process frequently have branches and error conditions, suggesting a flowchart as the best way to visually represent them.

As part of their day-to-day work, then, people must execute such processes as though each flowchart were a large hopscotch game, where everybody's job is to hop from one square to another.

As business process management (BPM) software came on the scene, such software represented each such traversal as a process instance.

After all, many people might be executing a particular process at the same time, each of them potentially at a different step.

Taking a Digital Journey
Every business process must have a business purpose - an organizational goal that lines up with the profit driver of every private sector company (or mission priority within the public sector).

This profit-centric alignment, however, is an Industrial Era holdover. In the Digital Era, organizations must be people-centric.

We no longer want to treat people as cogs in a wheel. We must free ourselves from our business process thinking. Instead, we start with the individual - and thus instead of processes, we must focus on journeys.

You may already be familiar with customer journeys: the representation of the sequence of interactions a person has with a company or brand. Customer journeys consist of a sequence of ‘moments,' recognizing that when people use a device to interact with an organization, they do so when and where they choose - not when or where the company chooses.

In the Digital Era, we extend the notion of customer journeys to everyone - employees, partners, suppliers, anyone involved in an organization. Instead of the ‘customer journey' terminology, therefore, let's generalize the notion to the ‘digital journey.'

Defining the Digital Journey
Such digital journeys are different from business processes in several fundamental ways. The person usually decides on the order of steps, or moments, rather than the organization laying them out beforehand.

Digital journeys also frequently have no clear end, and many not have a clear beginning, either.

Most importantly, each journey is unique to the individual. Businesses can group them together in many ways for various purposes, but the groupings don't define the journeys the way that business processes define their instances.

Since every journey is unique and each individual decides their own moments, a flowchart metaphor is a poor fit for a digital journey. Instead, characterize digital journeys as depending on constraints and dependencies.

A constraint is a limitation on the behavior within a journey that applies across the journey - but only takes effect when the conditions for the constraint are met.

A dependency is when one task or activity must take place before another can occur.

Here's an example: let's say your journey is through an airport (yes, digital journeys can be literal journeys!).

When you walk in, you might check in at a kiosk, get in line, or perhaps go to a store - it's up to you. But you must still conform to certain constraints, for example, you must have a boarding pass to go through security, and you must pass through security to go to a gate.

There are dependencies as well: getting a boarding pass depends upon having a valid ticket, for example.

As long as people conform to the constraints and dependencies, then, they are welcome to do whatever they want in whatever order they choose.

Constraints and dependencies, of course, are nothing new. In particular, Eliyahu M. Goldratt fleshed out the Theory of Constraints in the mid-1980s.

However, Goldratt placed his theory into the context of business processes - and to be sure, processes are subject to constraints and dependencies as well.

In the Digital Era, in contrast, we must free the considerations of constraints and dependencies from the business process context, instead applying them to the unique priorities and behavior of each individual.

Our airport example makes this difference clear. In the Industrial Era, people had to check in at the airline ticket counter to get a boarding pass - steps in a business process.

In the Digital Era, however, people have many ways to obtain boarding passes at different times, both at home or in the airport. This flexibility is human-centric rather than process-centric, illustrating the need to focus on the digital journey instead of the process.

Digital Journey Management vs. Business Process Management
In the 1980s, of course, technology wasn't up to the task of managing such digital journeys. Now it is.

Digital journeys are clearly different enough from business processes that yesterday's BPM software is no longer adequate. We can, however, manage digital journeys in other ways, either individually or in groups.

For example, managing the journeys of everyone with a boarding pass would be relatively straightforward, even though in today's digital world, people can use their smartphones, print the passes at home, or use a kiosk.

Digital retailers already manage customer journeys by demographic segment - an approach that we as consumers often find too limiting. Just because I'm in my fifties doesn't mean I want AARP ads in my stream, after all.

Ideally, of course, companies would manage ‘segments of one' - what we at Intellyx call individualization. In fact, you can think of individualization as fundamental to the notion of a digital journey, and by extension, to the Digital Age in general.

Best of all, we now have the technology to support this goal - if only enterprises would get their digital transformation act together.

No more bulk ‘do not reply' emails. No more tone-deaf retargeting. No more ‘press 1 to wait on hold.'

The technology part of this story has become the easy part - but organizations won't successfully enter the Digital Era until they move away from business processes.

The Intellyx Take
Will all business processes - and BPM software - be obsolete in the Digital Era? The answer: it's not quite so black and white. Just as industrialization didn't entirely displace handwork, digital journeys aren't going to fully replace business processes.

What is already happening, however, is a shift in expectation to a ‘digital journey first' mentality. Digitally transformed companies realize that to put customers and employees first, they must treat them as individuals who wish to interact on their own terms.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of this transition from the Industrial Era to the Digital Era is the shift from profit-centricity to human-centricity. After all, isn't making money the true goal of any for-profit company?

The answer: in the Digital Era, the only way to achieve the profit goals of the enterprise is to successfully move to a human-centric model. Focusing on profits over people is counterproductive, uncompetitive, and in the long run, fatal.

The companies that will profit the most in the Digital Era are paradoxically the ones that don't put profit at the center of their efforts.

Be warned: the technology connotation of ‘digital' is nothing but a smokescreen. Digital journeys - and the Digital Era writ large - are about people. Get this right and profits will follow.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. Image credit: Ruth Hartnup.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@CloudExpo Stories
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
First generation hyperconverged solutions have taken the data center by storm, rapidly proliferating in pockets everywhere to provide further consolidation of floor space and workloads. These first generation solutions are not without challenges, however. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Wes Talbert, a Principal Architect and results-driven enterprise sales leader at NetApp, will discuss how the HCI solution of tomorrow will integrate with the public cloud to deliver a quality hybrid cloud e...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable? Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, will answer these questions and demonstrate techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
Amazon is pursuing new markets and disrupting industries at an incredible pace. Almost every industry seems to be in its crosshairs. Companies and industries that once thought they were safe are now worried about being “Amazoned.”. The new watch word should be “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” In his session 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Kocher, a co-founder of Grey Heron, will address questions such as: What new areas is Amazon disrupting? How are they doing this? Where are they likely to go? What are th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
Though cloud is the future of enterprise computing, a smooth transition of legacy applications and systems is critical for seamless business operations. IT professionals are eager to start leveraging the cost, scale and other benefits of cloud, but with massive investments already in place in existing infrastructure and a number of compliance and resource hurdles, it can be challenging to move to a cloud-based infrastructure.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, will provide a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. Together we will solve a machine learning problem and find an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intellige...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley, a Senior Business Development Executive in IT Services at NetApp, will describe how NetApp designed a three-year program of work to migrate 25PB of a major telco's enterprise data to a new STaaS platform, and then secured a long-term contract to manage and operate the platform. This significant program blended the best of NetApp’s solutions and services capabilities to enable this telco’s successful adoption of private cloud storage and launchi...