For the last breakout today, I went to the session featuring of Patrick Slesinger of Wallem (a shipping company). I don’t know anything about shipping, but their requirements aren’t different from a lot of other organizations: involvement and transparency to customers into business processes, internal decision support, long-term accessibility to event data. They needed to make their processes mobile and make the right information available anywhere, without using email.
Their solution, using K2 for BPM, Attensa for RSS and SharePoint as a content repository, integrates process-driven applications with managed RSS. The solution uses K2 to manage processes, then pushes the process event log (or some filtered version of it) over to the Attensa feed server, where it can be served up to a web interface or delivered by email. The advantage of using a feed server for this is that it provides complete device/platform independence for consuming the event feed, as well as providing multiple formats for consumption. An enterprise RSS feed server provides things such as integrating your LDAP database for defining users and groups, and allows for easy assignment of specific feeds to users and groups. Users can have feeds assigned to them, which they can’t unassign, but they can use the same tool for reading other feeds as well. They can read a specific feed item on one platform, and it’s marked as read everywhere (as you would expect). The system also tracks who reads which feeds, when and for how long, making it possible to track what information is actually being used, and ensure that users are accessing the relevant information before making decisions.
Slesinger showed a demo of the system, showing how tasks that are assigned to a user show up in their feed reader; clicking on the details in the feed item pulls them into a web form to complete the task. There are many BPM products now that allow a feed to be created for any user’s inbox or other queues; his earlier architecture diagram led me to believe that they’re not doing that (if K2 is even capable of it), but extracting events from the K2 event log instead. In the example shown, the captain of a ship was actually participating in a workflow where he received task notification through a feed reader rather than in email or directly through the BPM product’s inbox.
- Increased visibility into systems and information sources
- Mobile connected process and feedback loops
- Alignment of information and process creating knowledge and value
- Email clutter reduced
- Understanding what information is required: who, what, when, where, why
Their customers — the ships’ owners — saw huge savings as well: using timely information and appropriate processes for deciding where ships take on fuel and oil, the annual customer savings are about $400M. They’re looking to do more with this in terms of analytics, search, and expanding the mobile RSS capabilities.
I’ve been blogging for a couple of years about how RSS and BPM could work together, and many of the vendors have integrated in the functionality, but this is the first real case study that I’ve seen of the two working together on this scale.