What does Route Planning has to do with Business Process Management?
Not so long ago we used paper maps to plan our route and recently we got used to online route planners like Map24 and maps.google.com to plan our route in advance. But who does not remember the quarrel between their parents if Mom could not find where we where on the map and Dad missed the exit. Of course that time there where not so much traffic jams like these days but still we would love to be on time for our appointment and searched for alternative routes.
The introduction of the Car Navigation Systems saved a lot of marriages and they warn us also or traffic jams even before they are on the radio. Besides that, they propose alternative routes and calculate the estimate time of arrival. But what i like most is the fact that i can neglect the advise of this nice lady, “my kids gave her a name – Carin”, and still she serves me by re-calculating the route and keep on giving me advise how to reach my destination.
The Car Navigation System uses “Services” and “Events” to serve my daily important Business Goal “reaching my destination”. The events it receives are position, speed, traffic information and the services it provides are calculating route, display route, giving direction, speak direction, calculate arrival time, etc. It uses basic traffic rules and has a context namely the correct map.
There are still some improvements to make like: 3d-view, real-world buildings, online-information and search all of them already prototyped by Volkswagen and Google which you can see on here. But above all the most compelling feature that still is missing is the ability to learn from my driving behaviour, the route i normally take, the advises i ignore and other preferences like nice girls along the road that want a lift.
But what has this all to do with BPM i hear you think.
We still live in the stone age of route planning when it comes to BPM. The vendors show us nice drawing tools which we should to draw our two-dimensional Route using fancy features like BPEL and we can even introduce some conditional logic WOW!!
When will we enter the era of real-time “Car Navigation like” event driven Business Process Management systems? A BPM system that only needs a starting point and a goal and that uses Events to trigger State Transitions which lead to pre-defined Activities. A BPM system that figures itself out what the most optimal route is to reach the goal, that can handle traffic jams at our desks, find out that other routes exist to reach our destination and preferably learn from our human “Agile” behaviour to adjust itself over time.
As Gartner states “the volume of events in an Enterprise is Growing Rapidly” and trying to analyse and model all possible routes and events during a business process will never comes to an end let alone that we will never be able to catch up with those growing volume of business events.
I hope this blog will start some discussion about the current state of the so-called BPM Engines which in my opinion are just plain old Workflow engines (Old wine). I’m not saying that those tools don’t have value, they have for the purpose they where developed, but it’s an illusion if you think that these tools will enable you to support your complex business processes.