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Although business process management (BPM) software has gained acceptance by more than half of those surveyed in Gartner's "Hype Cycle for Business Process Management" report, published in the summer of 2014, intelligent BPM (iBPM) is still growing and resides firmly in the hype cycle. That doesn't mean iBPM is not useful, however: Gartner recommends architects consider iBPM products instead of operational intelligence platforms when implementing new processes, and experts agree that iBPM is poised for widespread adoption.
Gartner has identified iBPM as superior to operational intelligence platforms in several ways: iBPM suites offer better workflow, adaptive case management and structured process orchestration capabilities. However, monitoring and alerting capabilities are less robust. Basically, iBPM is BPM software beefed up with analytics, complex-event processing and knowledge worker collaboration. The fact that iBPM can bring together different forms of intelligence while leveraging business and cloud platforms means it supports the full cycle of process discovery, analysis, design, implementation, execution, monitoring and optimization, according to Gartner.
Gartner's Hype Cycle report
Its newfound maturity means iBPM is coming out of the shadows and being noticed and appreciated by top management, according to Dr. Mathias Kirchmer, managing director and co-CEO at Philadelphia-based consultancy BPM-D. Because iBPM tools are more mature, Kirchmer said, the discipline is being taken more seriously. "Now we can focus on the outcome we want to achieve and line up the appropriate tools and methods behind it," he said.
Intelligent BPM a critical part of executing business strategy
According to Kirchmer, the fact that iBPM is delivering real results means it is a critical part of executing business strategy. "Leaders know they have a decent strategy," he said. However, he added, they're fighting to get their strategies executed, which iBPM excels at.
Gartner's Hype Cycle report agrees: the report states that iBPM is poised to support "big change" initiatives. By integrating real-time and on-demand analytics with business rules and social, process-centric collaboration, iBPM fosters process adjustments and more agile processes, the report said.
"An iBPM implementation approach to broad, cross-functional process coordination can transform the way the organization works, impacting its culture and its management approaches," the report stated.
A move in favor of iBPM is the adoption of standards, according to James Taylor, CEO of consultancy Decision Management Solutions. The decision model and notation (DMN) standard makes processes more intelligent so that processes act on behalf of the company automatically. "We will see a big uptick in intelligent processing because now people have a way of modeling decision making in that process," he said.
Intelligent BPM accelerates analytics technology, modeling
Analytics will reside in those DMN standards and processes, Taylor said. Although there has been a push lately to use analytics in everything, data around processes is being analyzed even more closely to improve the process design and support decisions. This leads to better process execution and data presentation, enabling behavior change, such as having the process behave differently based on customer loyalty, he said.
"That comes back to decision modeling: the ability to say we're going to make a more intelligent decision … based on data," Taylor said.
The use of analytics is clearly reflected in the Gartner Hype Cycle report: predictive analytics and forecasting within business process analysis are becoming more popular because the tools are easier to use. Additionally, the Gartner report notes that having a business process model is critical for performing these advanced process analytics. The advent of iBPM is accelerating the analytics technology and modeling itself, the report said.
The buzz surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) also is poised to affect iBPM as it relates to decision making, Taylor said. With sensors attached to machinery and connected devices, he said, it is only a matter of time before human interaction can be removed from things like maintenance processes and the processes themselves can be decided using iBPM.
And the emergence of iBPM will give rise to complementary disciplines like business rules management (BRM), according to Gartner. BRM goes further than business rules engines (BREs) present in BPM suites and manages business policies and processes in explicit form. As iBPM gains traction, so will BRM and other related disciplines.
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.
Learn the differences between iBPM and BPM