Let’s warm up slowly with this process 101 definition: “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.” Basically, it’s how we get stuff done. Sure, it’s simple (we are in the middle of the holiday season after all) but it is a useful reminder of the fundamental principle of what a process is and what organizations execute to deliver their products and services.
And while the fundamentals remain, the approach to process execution was turned on its head in 2017.
Why don’t we have a quick look at why.
We’ve seen the meteoric rise of the software robots and their promise of endless efficiency gains. The robots rocked and then they rocked some more (Rock, Robot Rock). We’ve seen Artificial Intelligence take center stage as the answer to pretty much any business challenge—AI’s the answer, now please tell me the problem and I’ll go Work that Machine. We’ve seen Blockchain (our promising New Chain on the Block) present an opportunity to deliver fundamentally different digital operating models. We’ve been bombarded with stories of the utopian and dystopian future of work.
And that just took us to mid-year.
Wow. After that we saw reflection and the sea of experimentation develop into understanding and the conversion of great ideas into solutions with real adoption and real impact. But mostly these were point solutions.
So, what does all this mean for our concept of Process on the Fly? Business leaders are continuing the relentless push for growth and efficiency. Funding is finite and controlled. Silos abound and we’re still busting them. Whether that be through RPA and microservices doesn’t matter, what matters is the continued push to incorporate existing assets into this new machine powered world. Process Mining has come of age and gives us great visibility into how business processes are really operating quickly, effectively allowing us to respond with improvements. The AI subsets of machine learning and natural language processing give us the ability to handle semi- and unstructured data far more effectively than ever before, allowing them to accelerate workforce operations.
Busting silos using such technologies is overcoming the human-centric constraints of existing assets, eliminating or automating workarounds and yielding huge benefits. It’s paving a way to bring about the incorporation of robots, AI and Blockchain into operational processes.
So, work to incorporate existing applications into newly machine powered processes continues at speed and will take center stage in 2018 now the mechanisms with which to do this are better understood.
There were two other major Process on the Fly impacts that did not experience quite as much hype. They are the push towards the conversational interface and rise of knowledge centricity.
We started to see a curation-focused approach to capturing process knowledge and institutionalizing this most valuable of corporate assets. Knowledge workers need only know how to get the answer to a question and they demand a simple interaction method that isn’t limited to a point and click. Process became empowered by the You Experience and the liberation of users from the fixed interaction paths of menus and options. But interactions are only as good as the response hence the rise of knowledge curation structured in a way that focuses on answers rather than a dumping ground for documentation.
The new year is here. We still need to get stuff done, more than ever in fact, and faster too. Process on the Fly is getting even closer to its TechnoVision siblings of Thriving on Data and the You Experience. It’s where different technology drivers seamlessly come together, that digital magic truly shines.
Let’s reimagine those processes, harness the machines and truly augment the workforce. It’s going to be an interesting ride, and I certainly wish you one in 2018.
Contribution by Lee Beardmore
See the full No Predictions 2018 overview here