The APQC Blog

Can ‘The Internet of Everything’ Transform BPM?

APQC recently talked to Charlie Martin, Director in Cisco Advanced Services, about how process can leverage the ‘Internet of Everything’ to transform business process management.

Charlie will be leading the Unlocking Business Process Transformation: Leveraging the Internet of Everything breakout session at APQC’s 2016 Process Conference Oct. 3-7.

You can connect with Charlie on LinkedIn.

Q. For those in process management and improvement that don’t know what the Internet of Everything (IoE) is, can you briefly explain what it is? How does IoT substantively differ from IoE? Are there situations where one is more applicable than the other?

To understand the Internet of Everything, we must start by looking at the Internet of Things, or IoT. IoT is the connectivity between devices that allows things to communicate with each other. This communication may be informational such as location, motion, temperature or it could be a command such as on, off, faster, slower. What we do with this communication is where the Internet of Everything comes in.

The Internet of Everything combines IoT with people and process to achieve an outcome. It's great that a connected thermostat can transmit the current temperature, but we may need human interaction to dictate what room temperature is comfortable for us. We also need the process that determines how the human, the thermostat, and the air conditioner all work together to get to that comfortable room temperature.

Q. Why should process people care about leveraging the Internet of Everything?

The Internet of Everything is changing how we do things and we are only at the beginning of this change. In the same way that electricity replaced steam-powered factory, the Internet of Everything opens transformational approaches to how we do business. What is different is that every day there are new capabilities available to us through the Internet of Things. To maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of our processes we need to be aware of these capabilities and take advantage of them.

Q. What will happen if organizations ignore Internet of Everything as a way to transform process management?

Organizations who don't take advantage of the transformational capabilities enabled by the IoE will find themselves at a severe competitive disadvantage. It wasn't that long ago that the transformation was about e-business. Many companies that were not able, or chose not to, adapt to these new capabilities are no longer with us. 

Q. What is an example of something the Internet of Everything can do to make process improvement better?

Processes are intended to result in a goal, or outcome. IoE changes “how” we get there by replacing manual activities with “smart-automated” actions, providing faster, or previously untapped information feedback loops, and by adding new capabilities.   The City of Linz, Austria applied IoE process concepts to improve efficiency, security, and the user experience of their transportation system. In doing so, they changed how the transit systems operate, how they can reduce energy use and omissions, and how passengers interact with public transportation. (How city of Linz applied IoE concepts.) 

Q. For people who use traditional business process management, what’s the key to identifying areas of opportunity where the (IoE) can be applied?

This is an area of skill growth for the process engineer. Traditionally, we would seek out subject matter experts in the process functional area. The subject matter expert was key to identifying hidden process improvement opportunities. Because of the rapid introduction of IoE capabilities, the process engineer has the opportunity to introduce previously unavailable capabilities, share those with the subject matter expert and find new ways to improve the process.