Process On The Fly #5 – No Process
Building on the next generation of Business Process Management, business rules, event processing and case management platforms, new flavors of process can be modeled, executed, monitored and managed. But the new technologies enable us to go even further: guided by context-sensitive and analytical insights, many fixed, inflexible processes can be replaced by concurrently or asynchronously executed activities, dynamically strung together with the system deciding the next best action. In the end the ultimate process might only be a process in hindsight. This is the art of Process Without Process: No Process.
Process models have become the tool to provide consistency, efficiency and the path to process improvement. But today, it is still infuriating to dial into a call centre and be told one thing only to be told something else when you call later. The reason: static processes have two main drawbacks.
Firstly, they are not capturing and guiding behaviors well. Secondly, process models are rigid and usually deaf and blind to unexpected events, new insights and new needs.
Static processes don’t foster innovation, they are not meant to. They enforce rules and consistency. However, when a customer requirement doesn’t quite fit the mold agents asks them selves “what can I do, surely something like this has happened before.” Human nature leads them to seek workarounds.
TechnoVision 2015’s Cognito Ergo Sum describes a world where analytical engines process masses of raw data from internal and external sources, to detect patterns based on context. The system can suggest options from history or make best guesses based on situational context. Dynamic case management then creates the alternate options or tasks as parts of the process – which is generated on the fly.
The system can manage so many options and micro processes, that a ‘process’ of limitless options is finally tantamount to ‘no process’ at all, ushering us into a new era of cognitive computing and human collaboration. The systems choose the best alternatives or at least select a limited set of options based on specific circumstances, for a knowledge worker to make the final choice. The challenge then is architecting these solutions such that they know best.
Up to now we craft processes manually, on the base of the options we know and understand. In the No Process future, we will allow systems to define the most appropriate, ad hoc process, on the base of thousands, maybe millions of options. They will always select the next best action -thanks to raw computing power, ever increasing processing speed and finally context based learning algorithms. Artificial Intelligence systems will write specific, on the fly processes based not only on the facts of the case, but also terabytes of historic precedence, using machine based learning to predict the most likely outcome.
And it has all started already: decision taking on loan applications was among the first implementations of this approach. Technology providers such as Pega bring the agile process platforms to get rid of processes. For medical diagnoses, computers increasingly define patient specific ‘clinical pathways’ proposing the next best action to medical professionals. One only needs to look at some of the IBM Watson implementations in healthcare to see real examples.
Many of the traditional enterprise processes thus will be progressively replaced, leaving us with a controlled fluidity that satisfies our ever-evolving demands. It’s what No Process looks like.
This blog post is the personal view of the author and do not express the views or opinions of Capgemini.