BPM and 2018

Is it a new year already?  Hmmm.  Time to look around and reassess the situation.

  • Hottest topic last year: was Robotic Process Automation (RPA).  The “robot” uses regular HTML user interface to inject data to and extract data from systems that lack proper data-level web service API.  I guess this means that SOA is dead– long live the new SOA.
  • The cloud is no longer scary.  Companies are moving data out of their data centers as quickly as they can, hoping to avoid the liability of actually holding sensitive data, and letting others take that problem.
  • It seems that all business process systems have a case management component now.  Maybe this year we can finally completely merge the ACM and BPM awards programs.
  • Most important innovation in process space for 2018: Deep Learning.  Alpha-Go showed us a system that can play a game that was considered unsolvable only a few years ago, and it did this without any programming by humans.  Tremendous advances in (1) big data and (2) cheap parallel computation, but….
  • Most disappointing innovation for 2018: Deep Learning.  Learning systems really have not solved broad open ended problems such as we need in the process space.  Currently limited to hand-coded algorithms.  Deep learning exhibits very quirky reliability: some amazing results, but lots of overwhelmingly problematic results on the long tail of exceptional situations.  In such a system it is hard to understand what has been learned, and hard to modify and adapt it without starting over.  Automatically improving a process requires understanding the business (cultural, moral, etc.) far outside the system.  This important step is only the beginning.
  • Process mining will continue to be under-appreciated in 2018.
  • SOAP can finally be ignored.  REST has won.
  • Decision Modeling continues to show promise, but it really is just an improvement on how to express computable programs, and it highlights the limitations of BPMN more than it represents anything new.   The DMN TCK had tremendous results helping to firm up the still uncompleted DMN spec.
  • Self-managed organizations continue to rise, and Slack seems to be the most sophisticated technology really needed to make this happen.

What do we have to look forward to:

  • We will be holding another Adaptive Case Management Workshop this year at the time of the EDOC conference in October in Stockholm.  Our 2017 experiment trying to run this in America failed due to inability to attract attendees from outside of Europe.
  • The BPM conference will be in Sydney Australia this year and it should be as good as ever.
  • Open Rules is planning another Decision Camp this time in Brussels in mid September

So, indeed it is another year.  Happy New Year!


Here is a helpful common sense video which lends some perspective about the state of artificial intelligence and deep learning:

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