The following was co-written with Successful Workplace editor Chris Taylor.
Last week former Gartner über analyst Jim Sinur published a blog that quietly introduced perhaps the biggest sea change coming in technology: the blending of business events (data about what’s happening in real-time) with highly dynamic business process engines to create very, very fast sense and respond systems. In Events are the Chocolate to Process’ Peanut Butter, Sinur made that case like this:
Today, an airplane is nothing without its avionics. The same can be said for process without events. Processes have come a long way in that they are quite agile and becoming more dynamic in their configurations, but they are flying blind without events. If processes can’t sense when changes are needed, all that agility goes to waste. When businesses are flying at high speeds, they need to know what events (threats or opportunities) to pay attention so they can adjust to get to their desired outcomes.
For those on the inside of event and process technology, this isn’t a shocker. Some of the best companies are already building systems that closely monitor their world in the moment, allowing occurrences to kick off, modify or close down process workflows. This is the dawn of dynamic, event-driven business process and it promises to change business as we know it.
What is an event?
While we all have an idea (even if vague) about business process management, people are less clear about the definition of business events. An event is something discreet that occurs (or doesn’t occur) that matters to an organization. Events in combination, be they an updated weather forecast, a transaction or someone not showing up for work…when they are in patterns or discreet, need to be ‘seen’ and acted upon or watched for follow-on events in distinct timeframes (AKA temporal events). Events often compare what’s happening right now to what is in the ‘record’ whether that be transactions, locations, inventory levels, etc. Events are the way analytics are put to use.
This gives sense and respond, something every business wants, its power. It is the future of a connected, mobile, social, cloud and big data world for everyone and is the ‘today’ for some healthcare, retail, logistics and other companies and the compelling future for the ones who want to survive.
Convergence of technologies
Event-driven business process ties together so much you’re hearing about:
IoT: All that noise about the Internet of Things? All of those ‘things’ or sensors out in the world that are now being connected to the Internet? Those are a big part of the rise of events as they sense what’s happening anywhere and everywhere and are now being added to ‘the grid’.
Big Data: All of the hype around Big Data? Big data essentially carries both historical and real-time events to the places where they can be correlated so that the right processes can start, change or stop.
In-memory data grid: In-memory (cache) computing rather than traditional database processing? Much faster and more suite to the speeds and volatility of event data.
Analytics: Everyone’s talking about analytics? That’s because the new generation of analytical tools allow business people to see the patterns in events so that systems can watch for circumstances as they happen and get ahead or risk or opportunity.
Cloud: What’s cloud go to do with it? Cloud is the flexible, cost-effective and elastic storage and processing of systems that would be expensive and limited if they had be architected in advance and operated inside an organization’s walls.
Social: Does social play a role in such a tech-driven space? Absolutely…collaboration (business) and sentiment (consumer) form events of their own that cause processes to start, change, and stop.
Mobility: How do we manage so much information coming from anywhere and going anywhere? Mobile technologies are the only way to free us from the desktop.
BPM has always been the way the business executes, whether it was manual or automated. The blending of business events into BPM creates intelligent business process systems that are the ‘real story’ of so many of the things we hear hyped…the ‘one ring to rule them all.’
I’d love to hear your feedback.