Welcome!

Oracle Authors: Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: SOA & WOA, Java, XML, AJAX & REA, Oracle

SOA & WOA: Article

BPM Without Barriers

The foundation of BPM includes time-tested technologies for managing both workflow and system interaction

Business processes manage the operational flow of business and when optimized achieve cost containment and flexibility as they need to be efficient and able to adapt to changing business conditions. The art of planning and implementing process management requires all the best cross-functional project management skills one can provide and tools that facilitate the task. Yet when trying to improve the management of processes, the business is often constrained by tool limitations that impose additional artificial barriers that impede success. These barriers result from design considerations and limitations of the capabilities, performance, and scalability. This article details these barriers to BPM and what is required to minimize or eliminate them.

Process Management and Technology
Process management has long been inspired by the latest available technology. Recall that Henry Ford was able to streamline the auto assembly process, which increased the efficiency of workers dramatically and brought the cost of the car down so that more people could buy cars. The technology inspiration for improving this process was the meat-processing conveyor. Regardless of whether the technology improvement has been mechanical or computer driven, process management has consistently leveraged it for increased benefit. The recent introduction of social networking and cloud technology will similarly deliver benefits to improved processes. Given the never-ending technology evolution, why then do product barriers to achieving success with BPM exist?

Process Management Barriers
It helps to consider the genealogy of business process management solutions. Business process management has roots in two mature proven technologies: Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and human workflow. These types of solutions have been available in some form for many years. EAI primarily enables system-to-system interactions and processes, where workflow simplifies human and document-centric processes.

The good news is that BPM has embraced and evolved these two mature, proven technologies; however like all technologies that at one time competed for acceptance there is often functional overlap and confusion as to appropriate usage.

Barrier: Perceived Process Separation
Often the discussion about processes and the technology to manage them is categorized by process characteristics such as human, system, document, and decision-centric that then leads to the appropriate tools to manage them. From a pragmatic perspective, this doesn't make sense since all these process types often coexist in a single enterprise process. Supporting multiple process technologies requires additional skills and impacts productivity, total cost of ownership, and efficiency. Separate technologies, whether in a suite or in separate products, create disjointed, inefficient tools and are not practical for the processes of today that incorporate multiple process characteristics.

Figure 1: Composite processes include all types of process styles

Barrier: Integrating the integration tools before managing the process
One byproduct of the evolution from separate tools for different processes is the lack of cohesive integration among tools to enable a unified process management solution. The result is that too much time is initially required to integrate these components before any meaningful work can be done optimizing the process. Service-oriented architecture (SOA) helps the integration challenge in an important way.

SOA is focused on organizing IT infrastructure with the goal of greater efficiency through reuse and agility with the use of services. It is a response to proliferation in systems, technologies, communication protocols, databases and data models. The strategy is to hide this complexity behind a set of business services and provide an infrastructure that standardizes how these services communicate and how they are managed. The result of such an initiative is that IT can respond faster and build new solutions for the business faster and cheaper. But the SOA transformation project itself predominantly benefits IT.

BPM, in a complementary way, is focused on directly optimizing business performance by looking at business processes. This approach is about achieving additional insight into operating procedures and work processes and using this insight to control quality, increase efficiency and drive continuous improvement. The goal of a BPM initiative is stated in business terms (% faster customer service, % reduction in costs, etc.), and these results can be measured directly by the resulting BPM solution. In essence, BPM provides business with greater efficiency and agility.

With the two working together to improve both business and IT efficiency and agility, it provides synergy enabling the enterprise to achieve even higher levels of value. BPM certainly can work without SOA by directly integrating systems, but working with SOA provides additional benefits and the integration between the two simplifies the task and delivers increased benefits.

Barrier: Business and IT Collaboration
Business process management enables the efficient management of change. Change in markets, change due to competition, a change in organization from an acquisition, or a change in available technological solutions. People and organizations in IT and the business are naturally wary to change as it impacts work ownership, control, and even job security. Communication and collaboration throughout the process lifecycle are necessary to avoid the potential impact of miscommunication. The tools most widely used for this are email and external collaboration systems. Email is a poor choice as it lacks process context. Each and every message in the inbox relates to a different context. Users often try to establish context using folders and rules, but usage and the benefit varies across the community of process participants adding uncertainty to the collaborative process.

External collaboration systems centralize communication and collaboration whether it is through a wiki, portal, or some other site paradigm. The drawback is that without integration to the process management system and to the management of all types of processes the context is missing and the usefulness of this collaboration is limited.

Barrier: Complexity Limits Tactical BPM success
Business process inefficiencies exist throughout the enterprise and can increase costs of both strategic and tactical processes. Strategic process initiatives often redeploy an organization's resources in a transformational way to provide competitive advantage. It may mean supporting a change in the organizational vision, objectives, and the strategy to achieve success. Defining a new company direction, acquiring another company, and adapting to market dynamics or obsolescence are examples of how strategic change requires redeployment of resources and greater process efficiency. This is the traditional sweet spot for BPM where processes span multiple functional silos and applications. An example is the employee, customer, or partner on-boarding process. But what about process challenges that impact just one functional system?

This is often the domain of tactical BPM solutions where the business pain is still significant but the project scope may be smaller and the time frame for value more immediate like, for example, compliance with new regulations. All enterprises have both tactical and strategic challenges, yet the urgency of tactical requirements often consumes them. BPM is often thought of as a solution best suited to strategic processes because the time-critical nature of tactical projects may be too rigorous for the complexity introduced by a BPM system and its disparate components.

Barrier: BPM Tools for Only the Tech Savvy
The market for BPM, now in its second decade of adoption, has expanded from early adopter tech savvy enterprises to mainstream companies that are more conservative and risk averse. This natural progression requires that products evolve to suit the changing needs of these businesses. BPM tools that require substantial integration just to manage all types of processes fail to address the need of this expanding market. Difficult-to-use tools that inhibit business participation also constrain adoption across the enterprise, which makes collaboration and process management success challenging.

Breaking Through the Barriers to BPM
As an established technology and business solution, there are many best practices that articulate how to best approach the typical challenges of increasing efficiency with BPM. However, these primarily address the practice of BPM. To break through the barriers previously discussed requires a more integrated, easer-to-use approach:

  • Unified BPM to reduce complexity, cost, and time-to-value
  • Easier-to-use tools for business users and increased use by less tech savvy enterprises
  • Faster time-to-value for greater use in both tactical and strategic projects
  • BPM that reduces complexity and manages all types of processes
  • Unified collaboration across all processes and in the context of BPM
  • Synergy with SOA to reduce integration and complexity

These characteristics enable streamlined management of processes regardless of the styles of processes they include. A unified offering eliminates the pre-integration task of tools that undermines the focus on process improvement. Unified collaboration enables communication in context and richness of choice for how participants work together. A streamlined, unified process management system reduces complexity and time-to-value, enabling greater use in tactical projects that provides the additional benefit of building the infrastructure for strategic change and success. A unified approach reduces complexity and increases ease-of-use. Tools designed for all audiences of participants increases the usefulness for all members of the process life cycle and enables task delegation to those in the business responsible for corresponding business responsibility. These BPM solution characteristics all help the achievement of process management success and, more importantly, an enterprise transformation to a more efficient, agile, and manageable business.

Oracle BPM Suite 11g
Oracle BPM Suite 11g has been designed to eliminate these barriers with a unified approach that reduces complexity and with unified tools that empower process life-cycle participants. It is comprised of three functional areas. A unified process foundation reduces complexity and simplifies process management with pre-integration of process subsystems. User-centric design simplifies process modeling and interaction for all process participants that are part of the entire process life cycle. Social BPM interaction simplifies and extends collaboration providing new ways to communicate and align the business and IT.

Figure 2: Oracle Unified BPM Suite 11g

Summary
The management of business processes has consistently leveraged improvements and innovations in technology to enable increased efficiency, business visibility, and agility. The foundation of BPM includes time-tested technologies for managing both workflow and system interaction. The evolution of the tools used to manage processes while delivering greater benefit has often introduced artificial barriers that constrain success. These barriers include the type of process capabilities, poor integration of components, inconsistent collaboration void of process context, complexity that limits the use as a tactical solution, and tools designed for only tech savvy companies.

Oracle has recognized these challenges and designed a solution that eliminates these barriers to BPM success. Oracle BPM Suite 11g simplifies the BPM effort with a unified solution that manages all types of processes with a unified process foundation, user centric design, and social BPM interaction. One unified design simplifies use and removes complexity. It is a complete solution that empowers tactical solutions and innovation today and can scale, as the business need requires it. It enables more effective collaboration in the context of BPM and greater communication flexibility with social communication.


Sidebar: Win with Tactical BPM
Technology moves quickly and it is natural to be unaware of some of the changes that could impact our business. The ability to manage tactical process challenges on a schedule required for tactical success is one of them. There is a persistent view that BPM is best only for addressing strategic process challenges. This is consistent with the solutions of the past but not reflective of unified process management technology that today can reduce complexity, time-to-value, and cost which is so critical for tactical requirements. The use of BPM for tactical initiatives has a number of benefits:

  • These are often less complicated processes involving fewer enterprise systems
  • Enables IT to demonstrate success with BPM by addressing business validated problems
  • Usually has substantial return on investment due to the business pain
  • Builds the infrastructure, skills, and knowledge that enables strategic change with BPM for the future

Next time the urgency of tactical challenge comes knocking on the door, consider how you can address it with BPM and achieve both short term and long term business benefit at the same time.

More Stories By Dan Tortorici

Dan Tortorici, Director of Product Marketing for Oracle Business Process Management products, is a domain expert in enterprise business process management and enterprise software. His experience in the private sector as a customer of enterprise software technology has given him a pragmatic perspective in the application of technology to address business challenges.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, will discuss the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. The presentation will also discuss how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics to discuss are barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold.
Whether you're a startup or a 100 year old enterprise, the Internet of Things offers a variety of new capabilities for your business. IoT style solutions can help you get closer your customers, launch new product lines and take over an industry. Some companies are dipping their toes in, but many have already taken the plunge, all while dramatic new capabilities continue to emerge. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Reid Carlberg, Senior Director, Developer Evangelism at salesforce.com, to discuss real-world use cases, patterns and opportunities you can harness today.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have spoken with, or attended presentations from, utilities in the United States, South America, Asia and Europe. This session will provide a look at the CREPE drivers for SmartGrids and the solution spaces used by SmartGrids today and planned for the near future. All organizations can learn from SmartGrid’s use of Predictive Maintenance, Demand Prediction, Cloud, Big Data and Customer-facing Dashboards...
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices – computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be!
Noted IoT expert and researcher Joseph di Paolantonio (pictured below) has joined the @ThingsExpo faculty. Joseph, who describes himself as an “Independent Thinker” from DataArchon, will speak on the topic of “Smart Grids & Managing Big Utilities.” Over his career, Joseph di Paolantonio has worked in the energy, renewables, aerospace, telecommunications, and information technology industries. His expertise is in data analysis, system engineering, Bayesian statistics, data warehouses, business intelligence, data mining, predictive methods, and very large databases (VLDB). Prior to DataArchon, he served as a VP and Principal Analyst with Constellation Group. He is a member of the Boulder (Colo.) Brain Trust, an organization with a mission “to benefit the Business Intelligence and data management industry by providing pro bono exchange of information between vendors and independent analysts on new trends and technologies and to provide vendors with constructive feedback on their of...
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
There will be 50 billion Internet connected devices by 2020. Today, every manufacturer has a propriety protocol and an app. How do we securely integrate these "things" into our lives and businesses in a way that we can easily control and manage? Even better, how do we integrate these "things" so that they control and manage each other so our lives become more convenient or our businesses become more profitable and/or safe? We have heard that the best interface is no interface. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Co-Founder & CTO at Octoblu, Inc., will discuss how these devices generate enough data to learn our behaviors and simplify/improve our lives. What if we could connect everything to everything? I'm not only talking about connecting things to things but also systems, cloud services, and people. Add in a little machine learning and artificial intelligence and now we have something interesting...
Last week, while in San Francisco, I used the Uber app and service four times. All four experiences were great, although one of the drivers stopped for 30 seconds and then left as I was walking up to the car. He must have realized I was a blogger. None the less, the next car was just a minute away and I suffered no pain. In this article, my colleague, Ved Sen, Global Head, Advisory Services Social, Mobile and Sensors at Cognizant shares his experiences and insights.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) irreversibly encoded. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, will look at how this identity problem can be solved and discuss ways to use existing web identities for real-time communication.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT. Attendees will learn real-world benefits of WebRTC and explore future possibilities, as WebRTC and IoT intersect to improve customer service.
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, will share some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, an Open Source Cloud Communications company that helps the shift from legacy IN/SS7 telco networks to IP-based cloud comms. An early investor in multiple start-ups, he still finds time to code for his companies and contribute to open source projects.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to create new business models as significant as those that were inspired by the Internet and the smartphone 20 and 10 years ago. What business, social and practical implications will this phenomenon bring? That's the subject of "Monetizing the Internet of Things: Perspectives from the Front Lines," an e-book released today and available free of charge from Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue management.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges.
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, to discuss how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Erik Lagerway, Co-founder of Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services to the modern P2P RTC era of OTT cloud assisted services.
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehension and conference efficiency.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, will discuss single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example to explain some of these concepts including when to use different storage models.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace. These technological reforms have not only changed computers and smartphones, but are also changing the data processing model for all information devices. In particular, in the area known as M2M (Machine-To-Machine), there are great expectations that information with a new type of value can be produced using a variety of devices and sensors saving/sharing data via the network and through large-scale cloud-type data processing. This consortium believes that attaching a huge number of devic...