When is the last time we’ve seen truly new thinking in the area of Architecture for business and IT systems? Zachman Framework, 1984? TOGAF, 1990’s? OMG Model Driven Architecture, 2001? Has there been any breakthrough thinking other than to continue to provide more clarification and more decomposition about how to document enterprise and IT architecture? There has, but change is painful even for a profession that prides itself in facilitating change.
I was in a discussion yesterday with one of the researchers at the MIT Center for Digital Business. We were talking about automated workflow, tools like adaptive case management . Case management is normally a response to a request for service. For example: I can’t get to this node on the network or my password doesn’t work.
The Pareto principle comes into play when trying to automate - most of these issues are straightforward. As you look at automation, the degree of variability and unpredictability are core concerns about what can be automated.
As decision making processes take advantage of greater sensing and the analytic capabilities enabled by more processing power they can categorize the variability and understand its structure. If the response required remains unpredictable though, human intervention will still be required. When you are trying to perform attention engineering to maximize the value generation of employees, the decisions that can be automated are important. Automation can say:
- It will do the task
- It will not do the task because it shouldn’t be done
- Some one/thing else to needed to address the situation
Depending on how that decisions making process breaks down, significant amounts of work can be automated.
This is the more utopian view of automation that I mentioned last week.
Several weeks ago, I did a few posts on the workplace of the future. Today, I was part of a discussion with another futurist who had a radically different view of what could happen.
My view is that we can use analytics and automation to take over many of the “management” functions. Management is fairly well understood and many issues can be tracked to closure using workflow and other automation techniques. Doing this should free up people to be individual performers taking on more creative tasks, generating value with the time that used to be consumed by rote, bureaucratic efforts – the birth of a workplace utopia. Back to my view that we should automate “normal” and focus on the unique.
The other person’s perspective was: management could use these same tools to keep an ever closer watch on workers and focuses on making the people “turn the crank” harder not better. Essentially turning the workplace into a factory of unfree labor.
People may view the “everyone is a consultant” as a threat to their value system and bend the potential to their needs. I found the whole discussion eye-opening and something to watch out for.
I recently changed roles in HP and was looking at some of the project work products that are produced as part of our development efforts for organizations. Since I am from outside, I am asking: “Why are we doing that?” and “Who is using this?” My own version of the 5 Whys, since my view is project work products are meant to generate better business decisions, not just be created for their own sake.
Sometimes getting a more diverse opinion of what is going on can open up a whole new perspective.
Lately I’ve been in a number of discussions about processes and automation. When you look at traditional ERP/CRM systems, they have already automated the processes and it is up to you to figure out how to run your business within them.
As we develop more sophisticated systems that can begin to recognize patterns of behavior, new software solutions that adapt to changing needs are possible. One area of this effort is adaptive case management.
“Adaptive Case Management (ACM) is information technology that exposes structured and unstructured business information (business data and content) and allows structured (business) and unstructured (social) organizations to execute work (routine and emergent processes) in a secure but transparent manner.”
I usually talk about standards as allowing us to focus our innovation. In the case of processes though I have to ask: Is the future less about standard ways of doing things and more about adaptive approaches that adjust dynamically to the needs of the day? I think it is.
An attempt to pull together some of the constraints and drivers for the workplace of the future...