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As intelligent business process management (iBPM) gains recognition from business leaders, application architects are being tasked with implementing iBPM to foster intelligent processes and decision making. Experts have found that industries from financial services to manufacturing to healthcare are leveraging iBPM, keeping architects and developers on their toes.
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The Gartner Hype Cycle for Business Process Management report, published in the summer of 2014, suggests that this adolescent technology can transform an organization, shifting responsibility for business processes back to process owners. IBPM is great for quickly leveraging change, and it supports big change initiatives. The constraint becomes humans, not technology, because iBPM leverages analytics, cloud and mobile platforms, as well as business rules and process-centric collaboration.
"The industries that get the most value out of [intelligent BPM] are the ones with a lot of change," said Dr. Mathias Kirchmer, managing director and co-CEO at Philadelphia-based consultancy BPM-D. That's because iBPM provides a smart way to conduct change and make strategy come to life, he said. For example, financial services, which must constantly keep up with changing regulations to remain in compliance or meet requirements for managing new products or branches, can benefit greatly from iBPM's agility, he added.
Other heavily regulated industries also are prime candidates for implementing iBPM, Kirchmer said. He cited insurance, healthcare and pharmaceuticals and noted that one of his clients, a hospital CEO, said it could take months to deal with new legal requirements that change the way the hospital operates. Without iBPM in place, meeting new requirements would be next to impossible for the hospital, he said.
Intelligent BPM gaining traction in manufacturing, maintenance
As the Internet of Things (IoT) takes off, embedding connected devices and sensors into equipment is becoming the norm and this will have an impact on iBPM adoption, according to James Taylor, CEO of consultancy Decision Management Solutions. Although processes like copying and pasting text from faxes and letters has become largely automated, in real-life situations, such as on a manufacturing floor, many processes still must be completed by people. For example, a person must inspect equipment, but with the possibility of embedded sensors and an iBPM system, these interactions can be greatly decreased, he said.
Dr. Mathias Kirchmer
Because equipment wears differently depending on where it was manufactured, when it was put into use, and how much it is used, it makes sense to use analytics to predict which machine will need repairs sooner, and to drive the process based on data, Taylor said. And once sensors are added, he said, not only does the iBPM model become more sophisticated, but a company is able to view sensor activity to determine whether a machine needs to be repaired or replaced.
"It's a shift away from interactions in the real world to one in which a lot more is managed automatically through sensors and IoT productivity," Taylor said. Although he has not seen many of these cases in action because many companies have not yet installed equipment with sensors, he said RFID and supply-chain use cases have started taking off, and will continue to as event-based systems and streaming data from devices become more commonplace.
"That falls broadly into the category of intelligent process because that generates processes that seem to do more without intervention," Taylor said.
Making customer-facing processes smarter with intelligent BPM
Customer-centric processes are another area where iBPM is gaining traction, according to Taylor. For such applications, the mantra used to be consistency for efficiency's sake, which led to high-volume, fast-response, cookie-cutter processes. But when you externalize decision models and fold in analytics to improve decision making, these processes truly become customer-centric, Taylor said.
"You still have a standard that sends [data] efficiently, but what it sends is customized to you as a customer," he said. Customized interaction doesn't necessarily require manual intervention in these cases. Risk and fraud continue to be areas where humans will be involved, but for the most part, customer-centric processes will increasingly apply analytics to reach a decision, he said.
The adolescent nature of iBPM means that other industries have a lot of opportunity tomake their processes more intelligent, thereby reducing human intervention and increasing productivity. According to Gartner, for interactions that require coordination and interdependencies between people, systems and information, iBPM is a solid choice.
About the author:
Christine Parizo is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. She focuses on feature articles for a variety of technology and business-focused publications, as well as case studies and white papers for business-to-business technology companies. Prior to launching her freelance career, Parizo was an Assistant News Editor for searchCRM.com.