BPM and the Internet of Things

For a while I associated the term “internet of things” (IOT) with some pretty depressing applications such as fridges that automatically order food or televisions that recommend what to watch based on previous viewing behavior thus trapping owners in death spiral of both eating and watching rubbish. In the past year or so IOT appears to have left its teenage years behind and begun to develop some maturity..

From insurance to medicine IOT applications are starting to spring up and deliver some significant benefits to users. For example in car telematics devices which monitor driver behavior and adjust the insurance premiums accordingly are becoming widely adopted, especially as a way of reducing premiums for young drivers. Some telematics providers include an accident service with the black box device alerting the insurer in the event of a collision.

In medicine we are seeing perhaps the most rapid adoption of IOT from smart pill bottles that can alert patients and can notify care providers if the bottle isn’t opened to heart monitors that allow health providers to continually monitor a patient’s heart rate, transmitting data to remote application where it can be interpreted by a doctor or consultant.

So how does all this apply to BPM? Fundamentally all of these smart devices are capturing data, whether it’s about themselves or their users. What’s the point of capturing all this data on whether granny has taken her pills, your driving performance or your personal health if it still takes ages for someone to find, analyze and route the data to the right person. As we can see from the telematics use case what is necessary is for the IOT device to trigger processes.

This is where BPM and the delivery of IOT process solutions come in. Just like with enterprise social networks the BPM tool has the potential to turbo charge IOT adoption. By taking the captured data and applying it directly to processes we can significantly enhance the value of IOT devices. What if the data from the heart monitor automatically triggered a new medical case or doctor’s appointment once a certain threshold was exceeded? What if the pill bottle alerted a carer or next of kin? Could we soon reach a point where an ambulance arrives to pick you up before you knew you were ill?

In reality IOT process solutions will be a mash up of multiple technologies from BPM and Case Management to Business Intelligence and Data Analytics delivered by multiple horizontal and vertical solution providers depending on their area of process expertise.

Once regarded as a back office application BPM is now firmly established in the front office through integration with CRM and ERP and increasingly through the delivery of mobile process applications BPM has also started to invade the customer realm. IOT integration simply represents the next phase in this journey.

Alert me when I’ve drunk too much!

2 thoughts on “BPM and the Internet of Things

  1. I think it is best to keep BPM as a back office application because today many organizations need to be able to carry out ad hoc interventions at Cases. So, the ideal setup is a run time environment that accommodates any mix of structured vs unstructured work.

    Now that organizations recognize the importance of being customer-centric, no point requiring staff to go to two workflow management applications, so the trick is to accommodate customer-in at key process points and customer-out at BPM process steps and ad hoc steps, so CRM applications are no longer needed in ACM/BPM run time environments.

    IOT is tricky for devices that cannot log into a browser. You have to upload messages to a data exchanger that sniffs these out, decides whether they are OK and then submits these as transactions. Shipping data to devices is problematic in healthcare – one reasonably safe approach is post messages to portals but require dual factor login (user starts login, the system phones his/her cell phone, user has to input his/her pin to complete the login). Widespread adoption of this login protocol would eliminate most of the fines for inadvertent disclosure resulting from loss of laptops.

    The icing on the cake is interoperability where, in healthcare, a clinic who is seeing a patient today can request a consolidation of all visits made by that patient to other clinics, hospitals and results of lab testing across member labs. This works best when an HMO is hosting the e-Hub for its member clinics (patients have to sign release of information forms that list all participating clinics, hospitals, labs.).

  2. Pingback: Are Bosch the First Mover in the BPM Internet of Things? | The Computer Says How?

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