Category Archives: BPM

business process management

Pega 7 roadmap at Pegaworld 2016

I finished up Pegaworld 2016 at a panel of Pega technology executives who provided the vision and roadmap for CRM and Pega 7. Don Schuerman moderated the panel, which included Bill Baggott, Kerim Akgonul, Maarten Keijzer, Mark Replogle and Steve Bixby.

Topics covered:

  • OpenSpan RPA and RDA is the most recent technology acquisition; by next year, the workforce intelligence will be a key differentiator for Pega to help their customers analyze user behavior and detect patterns for potential improvement and automation
  • Questions about Javascript “flavor of the month” technologies come up a lot in competitive situations; they are keeping an eye on what’s sticking in the marketplace and what they can learn from it, selectively including technologies and capabilities where it can add value and fits into their framework
  • Digital channels are now outpacing call center channels in the market, and they are enabling chat and other social capabilities for customer interaction but need to consider how to integrate the text-based social channels into a seamless experience
  • Developing with Pega 7 models isolates the applications from the underlying cloud and/or containerization platforms, so that new platforms and configurations can be put in place without changing the apps
  • New data visualizations based on improved analytics are evolving, providing opportunities for discovery of business practices
  • A simpler modeling environment allows non-technical designers to create and configure apps without accessing the Designer Studio; at this point, technical developers are likely needed for some capabilities
  • They are looking at newer data management technologies, e.g., NoSQL and blockchain, to see how they might fit into Pega’s technology stack; no commitments, but interesting to hear the discussion of the use of blockchain for avoiding conflicts and deadlocks in active-active-active scenarios without having to build it into applications explicitly
  • Some new technology components, developed by Pega or third parties, may be available via Pega Exchange as add-on apps rather than built into the product stack directly
  • They hope to be able to offer more product trials in the future, which can be downloaded (or accessed directly in the cloud) for people to check out the capabilities
  • DevOps is seen as more of a cultural than technology shift, where releases are sped up since code isn’t just thrown over the wall from development to deployment, but remain the responsibility of the dev team; a container strategy is an important component of having this run smoothly
  • UX design is critical in creating an appropriate customer experience, but also in supporting developers who are developing apps; Pega Express is regularly fine-tuned to provide an optimal modeling/design experience, and Pega Design provides insight into their design thinking initiatives
  • All of the data sources, including IoT events, contribute to analytics and machine learning, and therefore to the constant improvement of Next Best Action recommendations
  • They would like to be able to offer more predictive and intelligent customer service capabilities; lots of “wish list” ideas from the entire panel

This is the last session on day 2; tomorrow is all training courses and I’ll be heading home. It’s been a pretty full couple of days and always good to see what Pega’s up to.

OpenSpan at Pegaworld 2016: RPA meets BPM

Less than two months ago, Pega announced their acquisition of OpenSpan, a software vendor in the robotic process automation (RPA) market. That wasn’t my first exposure to OpenSpan, however: I looked at them eight years ago in the context of mashups. Here at PegaWorld 2016, we’re getting a first peek at the unified roadmap on how Pega and OpenSpan will fit together. Also, a whole new mess of acronyms.

I’m at the OpenSpan session at Pegaworld 2016, although some of these notes date from the time of the analyst briefing back in April. Today’s presentation featured Anna Convery of Pega (formerly OpenSpan); Robin Gomez, Director of Operational Intelligence at Radial (a BPO) providing an introduction to RPA; and Girish Arora, Senior Information Oficer at AIG, on their use of OpenSpan.

Back in the 1990’s, a lot of us who were doing integration of BPM systems into enterprises used “screen scraping” to push commands to and pull data from the screens of legacy systems; since the legacy systems didn’t support any sort of API calls, our apps had to pretend to be a human worker to allow us to automate integration between systems and even hide those ugly screens. Gomez covered a good history of this, including some terms that I had hoped to never see again (I’m looking at you, HLLAPI). RPA is like the younger, much smarter offspring of screen scraping: it still pushes and pulls commands and data, automating desktop activities by simulating user interaction, but it’s now event-driven, incorporating rules and machine learning.

As with BPM and other process automation, Gomez talked about how the goal of RPA is to automate repeatable tasks, reduce error rates, improve standardization, reduce requirement for knowledge about multiple systems, shorten worker onboarding time, and create a straight-through process. At Radial, they were looking for the combination of robotic desktop automation (RDA) that provides personal robots to assist workers’ repetitive tasks, and RPA that completely replaces the worker on an unattended desktop. I’m not sure if every vendor makes a distinction between what OpenSpan calls RDA and RPA; it’s really the same technology, although there are some additional monitoring and virtualization bits required for the headless version.

OpenSpan provides the usual RPA desktop automation capabilities, but also includes the (somewhat creepy) ability to track and analyze worker behavior: basically, what they’re typing into what application in what context, and present it in their Opportunity Finder. This information can be mined for patterns in order to understand how people do their job — much the way that process mining works, but based on user interactions rather than system log files — and automate the parts that are done the same way each time. This can be an end in itself, or a stepping stone to a replacement of the desktop apps entirely, providing interim relief while a full Pega BPM/CRM implementation is being developed, for example. Furthermore, the analytics about the user activities on the desktop can feed into requirements for any replacement initiative, both the general flow as well as an analysis of the decisions made based on what data was presented.

OpenSpan and Pega aren’t (exactly) competitive technologies: OpenSpan can be used for desktop automation where replacement is not an option, or can be used to as a quick fix while performing desktop process discovery to accelerate a full Pega desktop replacement project. OpenSpan paves the cowpaths, while a Pega implementation is usually a more fundamental innovation that may not be warranted in all situations. I can also imagine scenarios where a current Pega customer uses OpenSpan to automate the interaction between Pega and legacy applications that still exist on the desktop. From a Pega sales standpoint, OpenSpan may also act as the camel’s nose in the tent to get into net new clients.

IMG_9784There are a wide variety of use cases, some of them saving just a few minutes but applicable to thousands of workers (e.g., logging in to multiple systems each morning), others replacing a significant portion of knowledge work for a smaller number of workers (e.g., financial reconciliations). Arora talked about what they have done at AIG, in the context of processes that require a mix of human-required and fully automatable steps; he sees their opportunity as moving from RDA (where people are still involved, gaining 10-20% in efficiency) to RPA (fully automated, gaining 40-50% efficiency). Of course, they could just swap out their legacy systems for something that was built this century, but that’s just too difficult to change — expensive, risky and time-consuming — so they are filling in the automation gaps using OpenSpan. They have RDA running on every desktop to assist workers with a variety of tasks ranging from simple to complex, and want to start moving some of those to RPA to roll out unattended automation.

OpenSpan is typically deployed without automation to start gathering user analytics, with initial automation of manual procedures within a few weeks. As Pega cognitive technologies are added to OpenSpan, it should be possible for the RPA processes to continue to recognize patterns and recommend optimizations to a worker’s flow, becoming a sort of virtual personal assistant. I look forward to seeing some of that as OpenSpan is integrated into the Pega technology family.

OpenSpan is Windows-only .NET technology, with no plans to change that at the time of our original analyst briefing in April. We’ll see.

Camunda BPM 7.5: CMMN, BPMN element templates, and more

I attended an analyst briefing earlier today with Jakob Freund, CEO of Camunda, on the latest release of their product, Camunda BPM 7.5. This includes both the open source version available for free download, and the commercial version with the same code base plus a few additional features and professional support. Camunda won the “Best in Show” award at the recent bpmNEXT conference, where they demonstrated combining DMN with BPMN and CMMN; the addition of the DMN decision modeling standard to BPMN and CMMN modeling environments is starting to catch on, and Camunda has been at the front edge of the wave to push that beyond modeling into implementation.

They are managing to keep their semi-annual release schedule since they forked from Activiti in 2013: version 7.0 (September 2013) reworked the engine for scalability, redid the REST API and integrated their Cockpit administration module; 7.1 (March 2014) focused on completing the stack with performance improvements and more BPMN 2.0 support; 7.2 (November 2014) added CMMN execution support and a new tasklist; 7.3 (May 2015) added process instance modification, improved authorization models and tasklist plugins; and 7.4 (November 2015) debuted the free downloadable Camunda Modeler based on the bpmn.io web application, and added DMN modeling and execution. Pretty impressive progression of features for a small company with only 18 core developers, and they maintain their focus on providing developer-friendly BPM rather than a user-oriented low-code environment. They support their enterprise editions for 18 months; of their 85-90 enterprise customers, 25-30% are on 7.4 with most of the rest on 7.3. I suspect that a customer base of mostly developers means that customers are accustomed to the cycle of regression testing and upgrades, and far fewer lag behind on old versions than would be common with products aimed at a less technical market.

Today’s 7.5 release marches forward with improvements in CMMN and BPMN modeling, migration of process instances, performance and user interface.

Oddly (to some), Camunda has included Case Management Model & Notation (CMMN) execution in their engine since version 7.2, but has only just added CMMN modeling in 7.5: previously, you would have used another CMMN-compliant modeler such as Trisotech’s then imported the model into Camunda. Of course, that’s how modeling standards are supposed to work, but a bit awkward. Their implementation of the CMMN modeler isn’t fully complete; they are still missing certain connector types and some of the properties required to link to the execution engine, so you might want to wait for the next version if you’re modeling executable CMMN. They’re seeing a pretty modest adoption rate for CMMN amongst their customers; the messaging from BPMS vendors in general is causing a lot of confusion, since some claim that CMMN isn’t necessary (“just use ad hoc tasks in BPMN”), others claim it’s required but have incomplete implementations, and some think that CMMN and BPMN should just be merged.

Camunda 7.5 element templatesOn the BPMN modeling side, Camunda BPM 7.5 includes “element templates”, which are configurable BPMN elements to create additional functionality such as a “send email” activity. Although it looks like Camunda will only create a few of these as samples, this is really a framework for their customers who want to enable low-code development or encapsulate certain process-based functionality: a more technical developer creates a JSON file that acts as an extension to the modeler, plus a Java class to be invoked when it is executed; a less technical developer/analyst can then add an element of that type in the modeler and configure it using the properties without writing code. The examples I saw were for sending email and tweets from an activity; the JSON hooked the modeler so that if a standard BPMN Send Task was created, there was an option to make it an Email Task or Tweet Task, then specify the payload in the additional properties that appeared in the modeler (including passed variables). Although many vendors provide a similar functionality by offering things such as Send Email tasks directly in their modeling palettes, this appears to be a more standards-based approach that also allows developers to create their own extensions to standard activities. A telco customer is using Camunda BPM to create their own customized environments for in-house citizen developers, and element templates can significantly add to that functionality.

Camunda 7.5 instance migration 4 - manual mapping of unrecognized steps between modelsThe process instance migration feature, which is a plugin to the enterprise Cockpit administration module but also available to open source customers via the underlying RESET and Java APIs, helps to solve the problem of what to do with long-running processes when the process model changes. A number of vendors have solutions for this, some semi-automated and some completely manual. Camunda’s take on it is to compare the existing process model (with live instances) against the new model, attempt to match current steps to new steps automatically, then allow any step to be manually remapped onto a different step in the new model. Once that migration plan is defined, all running instances can be migrated at once, or only a filtered (or hand-selected) subset. Assuming that the models are fairly similar, such as the addition or deletion of a few steps, this should work well; if there are a lot of topology changes, it might be more of a challenge since there could need to roll back instance property values if instances are migrated to an earlier step in the process.

They have also improved multi-tenancy capabilities for customers who use Camunda BPM as a component within a SaaS platform, primarily by adding tenant identifier fields to their database tables. If those customers’ customers – the SaaS users – log in to Cockpit or a similar admin UI, they will only see their own instances and related objects, without the developers having to create a custom restricted view of the database.

Camunda 7.5 process duration reportThey’ve released a simple process instance duration report that provides a visual interface as well a downloadable data. There’s not a lot here, but I assume this means that they are starting to build out a more robust and accessible reporting platform to play catch-up with other vendors.

Lastly, I saw their implementation of external task handling, another improvement based on customer requests. You can see more of the technical details here and here: instead of a system task calling an Camunda 7.5 external-task-patternexternal task asynchronously then wait for a response, this creates a queue that an external service can poll for work. There are some advantages to this method of external task handling, including easier support for different environments: for example, it’s easier to call a Camunda REST API from a .NET client than to put a REST API on top of .NET; or to call a cloud-based Camunda server from behind a firewall than to let Camunda call through your firewall. It also provides isolation from any scaling issues of the external task handlers, and avoids service call timeouts.

<a href="https://flic.kr/s/aHskxvvNsX" target="_blank">Click to View</a>

There’s a public webinar tomorrow (June 1) covering this release, you can register for the English one here (11am Eastern time) and the German one here (10am Central European time).

ING Turkey’s journey to becoming a digital bank

I wanted to catch an ActiveMatrix BPM customer breakout session here at TIBCONOW 2016, so sat in on Rahsan Kalci from ING Turkey talking about their transformation to a digital bank using BPM, co-presenting with a senior BPM architect from TIBCO, Raisa Mahomed. I’ve always thought of ING Bank as innovative, both through personal experience and from reading case studies about how they apply technology to business problems.

wp-1463611831323.jpgING Turkey’s business problem four years ago was that customer-facing processes were taking too long, were inefficient and inconsistent, and weren’t fully documented so difficult for new users to learn. They decided to create a new operating model with AMX BPM at the core, supporting all of their business processes, and are in the midst of an operational transformation with 11 processes already implemented, and several others underway, ranging in complexity and customer engagement. They are building completely custom applications using the APIs rather than leveraging out of the box workspace tools, since they already had a robust user interface environment that they wanted to integrate with.

Throughput time on the now-standardized processes improved by 55%, providing greatly enhanced customer service that moved them from #6 to #3 in the market. From an operational cost point, transactions per employee increased by 38% allowing them to have a 36% reduction in operational staff (72 FTE). By using the workforce management capabilities in AMX BPM, they were able to determine parts of the process that could be near-shored (still in Turkey, but in less expensive locations than Istanbul), resulting in additional cost savings.

wp-1463611846312.jpgThey have an overall strategy for what processes to implement in what order. They picked their initial processes as not customer facing, but still important for their operations, and able to be done manually as a fall-back position. This allowed them to learn the tool and establish best practices, then start to consider processes that directly impact the customer journeys. Although they started with a team made up of both ING and TIBCO people, they are now working completely on their own to build new processes and roll out new applications. Their ultimate goal is to roll out BPM to all core processes, enhance their digital business with support for mobile internal and external users, and use Spotfire analytics more broadly in the back office to improve operational decision-making.

They were an early AMX BPM customer, starting on version 1.0 and now on 3.1, with plans for 4.1 in the near future. Their first process application took them 2 years, but that was a much broader implementation effort that built tools and infrastructure used by all later applications. They’ve had about 20 people working full time on the BPM projects for the past four years, a significant investment on their part but one that is obviously paying off for them.

ActiveMatrix BPM update at TIBCONOW

Roger King, head of BPM product management, gave us an update on ActiveMatrix BPM and Nimbus.

The most recent updates in AMX BPM have focused on data and case management. As we saw in the previous session on case management, their approach is data-centric with pre-defined process snippets that can be selected by the knowledge worker during execution.

As with most other BPMS platform vendors, they are positioning AMX BPM as an application development platform for digital business, including process, UX across multiple channels and application building tools. Version 4.0, released last year, focused on rapid user experience application development, case management enhancements, and process data and integration enhancements. Previously, you had to be a hard-core coder and afficiando of their APIs to create process applications, but now the app dev is much more accessible with HTML5 UI components (worklist, case, etc.), CSS, JavaScript APIs, and AngularJS and Bootstrap support in addition to the more traditional Java and REST APIs. They’ve also included a number of sample applications to clone and configure, including both worklist and case style. There is a complete app dev portal for administering and configuring applications, and the ability to change themes and languages, and define roles for the applications. Power developers can use their own favorite web app dev tool, or Business Studio can be used for the more integrated experience.

In their case management enhancements, they’ve added process-to-process global signalling with data, allowing any process to throw or catch global signals to allow for easy correlation between processes that are related based on their business data. In the case world, case data signals provide the same capability with the case object as the catching object rather than a process.

A new graphical mapper allows mapping between data objects, acting as a visual layer over their data transformation scripting.

Service processes are now supported, which are stateless processes for high-speed orchestration.

There is now graphical integration with external REST services, in the same way that you might do with WSDL for SOAP services, to make the integration more straightforward when calling from BPM.

IMG_9508AMX BPM 4.1 is a smaller release announced here at the conference, with the continued evolution of s a AMX BPM as an app dev platform, some new UI components for case management, and enhancements to the bundled apps for work management and case management styles as a quick-start for building new applications. There are some additional graphical mapper capabilities, and a dependency viewer between projects within Business Studio.

On the Nimbus side, the big new thing is Nimbus Maps, which is a stripped-down version of Nimbus that is intended to be more widely used for business transformation by the business users themselves, rather than by process experts. It includes a subset of the full Nimbus feature set focused just on diagramming and collaboration, at a much lower price point.

A flying tour through recent releases, making it very obvious that I’m overdue for a round of TIBCO briefings.

IMG_9509He next gave us a statement of direction on the product lines, including more self-service assessment, proof of concept and purchasing of products for faster selection and deployment. By the end of 2016, expect to see a new cloud-based business process execution and application development product from TIBCO, which will not be just a cloud layer on their existing products, but a new technology stack. It will be targeted at departmental self-service, with good enough functionality at a reasonable price point to get people started in BPM, and part of TIBCO’s overall multi-tenant cloud ecosystem. The application composition environment will be case-centric, although will allow processes to be defined with a simplified BPMN modeling syntax, all in a browser environment. There will be bundled applications that can be cloned and modified.

IMG_9510 IMG_9512

This is not intended to be a replacement for the enterprise products, but to serve a different market and different personas; regardless, I imagine that a lot of the innovation that they develop in this cloud product will end up back in the enterprise applications. The scaling for the cloud BPM offering will use Docker, which will allow for deployment to private cloud at some point in the future.

With the cloud pivot in progress, the enterprise product development will slow down a bit, but Nimbus will gain a new browser-based user experience.

Case management at TIBCONOW 2016

Breakout sessions continue with Jeremy Smith and Nicolas Marzin of TIBCO presenting their case management functionality. Marzin went through the history of process and how we have moved from pre-defined processes and automation to more flexible and personalized work methods; in general, this is driving the application of case management and other unstructured work tools in addition to structured BPM. It’s no longer just about cost-cutting and efficiency, but also about innovation, agility and competitive differentiation. Although he made a link between case management and digital disruption, there are also many use cases for more flexible work handling, such as claims management and incident handling.

Smith talked about the case-centric capabilities enabled by ActiveMatrix BPM, presenting it as an approach to building applications rather than a separate product offering. He made the distinction between back office processes, where the organization determines the employees’ journey (I don’t fully agree, since there is a lot of back office knowledge work), while the path of front office processes are driven by the customer. TIBCO takes a data-centric approach to case management, where any entity can be a case, and a case can contain processes (or process fragments), rules, actions, analytics, and collaboration. Unlike the usual big process application built with AMX BPM, case management can start much simpler with the objects, data and basic actions, then add in more of the capabilities as the needs emerge.

wp-1463604177424.jpgHe showed a transportation-related case dashboard used by a knowledge worker, with a milestone/stage timeline, business actions (which may trigger processes), case details, and contextual details (linked cases, processes, tasks and navigation). States and actions drive the cases forward rather than pre-defined processes, so that actions can be triggered when certain states are reached or data values updated. Workers can select actions based on the case state and their permission level.

This seems to be more of an application framework/example than a case management platform, although the claim is that semi-technical analysts can create these applications. There’s another session later today on the low-code application development environment used to create case management applications; there are certainly a lot of questions left unanswered by this session about how case really fits in with AMX BPM.

Intelligent Business Operations at TIBCONOW 2016

wp-1463598777880.jpgNicolas Marzin of TIBCO gave a breakout session on making business operations intelligent, starting with the drivers of efficiency, agility, quality and transparency. There are a number of challenges to achieving this in terms of work management: workers may have too many queues to monitor and not know which is most important, or people may be having work assigned to them that they are either over- or under-qualified to complete. This can result in missed SLAs and unhappy customers, lower efficiency, and lack of agility since business priorities aren’t enforced.

Looking at a day in the life of an operational business user, they need to know their own and their team’s performance goals, and what work that they should be completing that day in order to achieve those goals. Managers are concerned about their team as a whole, including whether they are meeting goals and SLAs, whether they have sufficient resources, and how to prioritize work. Managers need tools for real-time metrics, workforce administration, workload balancing, and changing priorities on the fly. ActiveMatrix BPM provides the ability to model your workforce in terms of roles, groups, privileges, relationships and capabilities; rules are applied to create a distribution strategy that determines what work is assigned to what resource at any point in a business process. Typically, work is assigned to a subset of the workforce whose skills match the requirement, since allocating work to an individual creates an operational risk if that person is absent or overloaded with work. AMX BPM includes process patterns for resource management: separation of duties, retain familiar, chaining and piling.

wp-1463598797560.jpgAnalytics comes into play in the management dashboard, where Spotfire is used to monitor operational performance and trigger actions directly from the dashboard. Typical visualization include work backlog and SLAs, resources pool workload and capacity, process and case performance, and business data in context. Marzin showed examples of dashboards for real-time tracking of work backlog and staffing, plus as-is forecasting that identifies bottlenecks. The charts show the factors that are most important for a manager to make resource allocation decisions, understand staffing needs based on combinations of skills, and reprioritize specific work types, which can then be pushed back to AMX BPM.

wp-1463598810544.jpgThis is fairly traditional BPM and case management, with rule-based workforce management, but that’s a huge part of where AMX BPM is being used in practice. However, their workforce management is fairly advanced compared to many competitive solutions, and using Spotfire for operational analytics raises the bar in active manager dashboards while allowing for what-if prediction and simulation on the fly. This ties in to the “closing the loop” theme of the day, where manager dashboard actions feed directly back to adjust the workforce management rules. This level of integrated visual analytics for AMX BPM is long overdue, but it looks like they’ve turned the previous demo-ware into something much more robust and generally applicable.

As an aside, I’ve done some presentations recently about the need to align incentives with corporate goals; although individual performance statistics are important, it’s key to ensure that they match up with overall goals, and include measurements of collaboration and teamwork too. Metrics for collaboration are just starting to emerge, and are not included in most BPM or other work management platforms.

bpmNEXT 2016 demo: Capital BPM and Fujitsu

Our final demo session of bpmNEXT — can’t believe it’s all over.

How I Learned to Tell the Truth with BPM – Gene Rawls, Capital BPM

Their Veracity tool overlays architecture and process layers using visual models, integrated with a few different BPMS (primarily IBM); create models in the tool for process and underlying technical architecture (SOA, rules and data) layers, and create linkages between them to indicate interactions. Direct integration of IBM ODM into rules layer.

Business Process and Self-Managed Teams – Keith Swenson, Fujitsu and WfMC

wp-1461264472735.jpgFinishing bpmNEXT with a presentation on self-managed teams in the context of BPM, not a demo. Contrasting organizational styles of “early structured” (aka “structured”) versus “late structured” (aka unstructured), with respective characteristics of centralized versus decentralized, and machine-style versus garden-style. Concepts of sociocracy (on which holocracy is based): a formal method for running self-managed teams that are structured around social relationships, aka dynamic governance. Extremely agile, allows ideas to boil up from the bottom. Replaces voting with consensus, where there is open discussion of options and everyone must consent that it is acceptable; objections must require a better proposal. Defining principles: consent governs policy decision making; organizing in circles; double-linking; and elections by consent. Self-managed organizations are inherently agile since good decisions are made where needed and everyone agrees. May be implications on DMN as to how decisions are modeled and captured. wp-1461264490831.jpgBPMN and CMMN can cover some of the domains of predictability; we saw other demos this week using other model types that extend further into unpredictable work, such as a process timeline view. Outstanding issues of whether BPMN should be extended to handle less predictable work, or if CMMN can handle this. Keith ended with the observation that this was the year of DMN at bpmNEXT, and issued a call to action for an open-source implementation of DMN execution with conformance suite; likely more possible than for BPMN since it is more constrained. A lot of great discussion ensued, and Keith will be spearheading a WfMC committee to look at this.

bpmNEXT 2016 demos: Appian, Bonitasoft, Camunda and Capital BPM

Last day of bpmNEXT 2016 already, and we have a full morning of demos in two sessions, the first of which has a focus on more technical development.

Intent-Driven, Future-Proof User Experience – Malcolm Ross and Suvajit Gupta, Appian

Appian’s SAIL UI development environment. Build interfaces with smart components that detect the capabilities of the runtime device (e.g., camera, Bluetooth) and enable/disable/configure components on the fly. Supports a variety of UI rendering architectures/frameworks for desktop, and generates native mobile apps for Android and iOS. Directly supports their underlying constructs such as Records and process models when building forms. Dynamic content based on selections and data on form. Fast rebranding of forms with color and logos. Full functionality on mobile devices, and offline support via caching data down to device, and saving any offline transactions to automatically synchronize when reconnected. Switch between design (tree/graphical) view and code view in IDE to support different technical capabilities of UI designers. Not a focus on BPM per se, since Appian is repositioning as more of a process-centric application development tool than BPMS, although used as the UI development environment for their process applications.

Continuous Integration: Tools to Empower DevOps in Process-Based Application Development – Charles Souillard, Bonitasoft

Embodying continuous integration for live updates of applications, enabling easier development and automated testing supported by Docker images. Demo of simple shopping cart application created using BonitaBPM, with a combination of forms, pages, layouts, custom widgets and fragments that can be rendered on desktop and mobile devices. Underlying BPMN process model with human activities connected to UI artifacts. Versioned using Subversion. The continuous integration functionality monitors checked-in changes to the application and integrates them into the dev/test repository to allow immediate testing; in the demo, a new input parameter was added to a process step; the updated code was detected and tested, with testing errors raised due to the unknown parameter. Potential to accelerate the dev-test cycle, since code can be checked in by developers several times each day, with the results automatically tested and fed back to them.

Combining DMN with BPMN and CMMN: The Open Source Way – Jakob Freund, Camunda

wp-1461259584764.pngCamunda’s “developer-friendly” BPM for developers to add process, case and decision capabilities to their applications. Their DMN decision tables allows changing decision tables at runtime for increased agility, depending on binding specified by process designer. Decisions executed as decision tasks from a process are logged as part of process history, and visible in their admin Cockpit interface to trace through decisions for a specific process instance. DMN engine also available outside decision tasks in a process, such as a REST API call from a form to dynamically update values as parameters change; when deploying a table, both a public ID for executing the table and a private ID for editing the table are generated for the REST access. Nice traceability directly into the decision table, and fast changes to production decision tables. Open source, with a free (non-production) DMN cloud version. Extra points for creating an online dungeon game using BPMN, and playing a round during the demo.

bpmNEXT 2016 demos: IBM, Orquestra, Trisotech and BPM.com

On the home stretch of the Wednesday agenda, with the last session of the four last demos for the day.

BPM in the Cloud: Changing the Playing Field – Eric Herness, IBM

wp-1461193672487.jpgIBM Bluemix process-related cloud services, including cognitive services leveraging Watson. Claims process demo that starts by uploading an image of a vehicle and passing to Watson image recognition for visual classification; returned values show confidence in vehicle classification, such as “car”, and sends any results over 90% to the Alchemy taxonomy service to align those — in the demo, Watson returned “cars” and “sedan” with more than 90% confidence, and the taxonomy service determined that sedan is a subset of cars. This allows routing of the claim to the correct process for the type of vehicle. If Watson has not been trained for the specific type of vehicle, the image classification won’t be determined with a sufficient level of confidence, and it will be passed to a work queue for manual classification. Unrecognized images can be used to add to classifier either as example of an existing classification or as a new classification. Predictive models based on Spark machine learning and analytics of past cases create predictions of whether claim should be approved, and the degree of confidence in that decision; at some point, as this confidence increases, some of the claims could be approved automatically. Good examples of how to incorporate cognitive computing to make business processes smarter, using cognitive services that could be called from any BPM system, or any other app that can call REST services.

Model, Generate, Compile in the Cloud and Deploy Ready-To-Use Mobile Process Apps – Rafael Bortolini and Leonardo Luzzatto, CRYO/Orquestra

Demo of Orquestra BPMS implementation for Rio de Janeiro’s municipal processes, e.g., business license requests. From a standard worklist style of process management, generate a process app for a mobile platform: specify app name and logo, select app functionality based on templates, then preview it and compile for iOS or Android. The .ipa or .apk files are generated ready for uploading to the Apple or Google app stores, although that upload can’t be automated. Full functionality to allow mobile user to sign up or login, then access the functionality defined for the app to request a business license. Although an app is generated, the data entry forms are responsive HTML5 to be identical to the desktop version. Very quick implementation of a mobile app from an existing process application without having to learn the Orquestra APIs or even do any real mobile development, but it can also produce the source code in case this is just wanted as a quick starting point for a mobile development project.

Dynamic Validation of Integrated BPMN, CMMN and DMN – Denis Gagné, Trisotech

wp-1461196893964.jpgKommunicator tool based on their animation technology that animates models, which allows tracing the animation directly from a case step in the BPMN model to the CMMN model, or from a decision step to the DMN model. Also links to the semantic layer, such as the Sparx SOA architecture model or other enterprise architecture reference models. This allows manually stepping through an entire business model in order to learn and communicate the procedures, and to validate the dynamic behavior of the model against the business case. Stepping through a CMMN model requires selecting the ad hoc tasks as the case worker would in order to step through the tasks and see the results; there are many different flow patterns that can emerge depending on the tasks selected and the order of selection, and stages will appear as being eligible to close only when the required tasks have been completed. Stepping through a DMN model allows selecting the input parameters in a decision table and running the decision to see the behavior. Their underlying semantic graph shows the interconnectivity of all of the models, as well as goals and other business information.

Simplified CMMN – Lloyd Dugan, BPM.com

wp-1461198272050.jpgLast up is not a demo (by design), but a proposal for a simplified version of CMMN, starting with a discussion of BPMN’s limitations in case management modeling: primarily that BPMN treats activities but not events as first-class citizens, making it difficult to model event-driven cases. This creates challenges for event subprocesses, event-driven process flow and ad hoc subprocesses, which rely on “exotic” and rarely used BPMN structures and events that many BPMN vendors don’t even support. Moving a business case – such as an insurance claim – to a CMMN model makes it much clearer and easier to model; the more unstructured that the situation is, the harder it is to capture in BPMN, and the easier it is to capture in CMMN. Proposal for simplifying CMMN for use by business analysts include removing PlanFragment and removing all notational attributes (AutoComplete, Manual Activitation, Required, Repetition) that are really execution-oriented logic. This leaves the core set of elements plus the related decorators. I’m not enough of a CMMN expert to know if this makes complete sense, but it seems similar in nature to the subsets of BPMN commonly used by business analysts rather than the full palette.