Aamas 2004 panel on business process management
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AAMAS 2004 – Panel on Business Process Management. Tom Wagner, Ph.D. DARPA / IPTO [email protected] BPM. Disclaimer – not to be confused with fact… Broad space / BPM may involve a bundle of ideas: Human task/workflow management.

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AAMAS 2004 – Panel on Business Process Management

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AAMAS 2004 – Panel on Business Process Management

Tom Wagner, Ph.D.

DARPA / IPTO

[email protected]


BPM

  • Disclaimer – not to be confused with fact…

  • Broad space / BPM may involve a bundle of ideas:

    • Human task/workflow management.

    • Information flows, e.g., auto-magic information exchange to support human work.

    • Union of that space -- human work management + information management.

  • BPM = business process awareness + management.

    • Progression of focus for practitioners: transaction processing (data in), then business intelligence (information from your data), to process awareness and management.

  • Many different slants driven by different areas of commercial interest:

Process-centric workflow.

Optimization, what-ifs, dynamic task management.

Information management.

Enterprise applications.

Software infrastructure.

Others.

Not drawn to scale.

Axis unknown.


BPM and Agents

  • Sidebar: standards

    • BPMI – business process management initiative. www.bpmi.org

      • Nonprofit company w/goal to setup standards.

      • E.g., BPML (meta biz process modeling language) or BPMN (graphical representations of BPML).

    • Others: BPEL (“bee pell”) web services + biz proc (MS, IBM, BEA, SAP). UML (OMG) = component view.

  • Why agents? Places to hook arguments for:

    • Distribution – large scale, privacy concerns between different companies, etc.

    • Lose coupling – integrating heterogeneous systems and people in dynamic setting.

    • Autonomy – efficiency value proposition (automation makes things faster).

    • Choice – important for dealing with humans (also mixed initiatives).

      • Process may also have choices that need to be made locally.

    • Intelligence – pushing autonomy from simple data triggered action to complex task performance or complex analysis.

    • Adaptive, dynamic, flexible, etc.

  • Stumbling block for (some) agents: explicit representations of processes.

    • Commercial folks have the same problem ( template libraries).

    • Implies look to domains with documented processes.

    • But often existing models will lack features, e.g., choice nodes, parallelism.

    • May not be an issue -- depends on your BPM vision and how near term you are operating.


Make Your Own Custom BPM Vision

As a researcher…

  • How you approach BPM is dependent on your needs and goals.

    • Select a subset (of that space) and clearly define the subset.

  • Consider being complimentary to (but not competing with) commercial interests.

    • Shoot high / offer a new capability that dovetails with where they are going.

    • Hard to compete with development or near term work.

  • If you need external investment / are working for “real world” impact:

    • Parallel application spaces, e.g., military.

    • Or know your customer. Voice-of-customer should modulate:

      • Your argument for an agent approach (why distributed, etc.).

      • Your value proposition.

      • Potentially your long term technical vision.

    • You decide the balance of customer voice versus research vision.

  • Most value propositions will include efficiency improvements (faster, cheaper).

Research: learning to adjust workflow models.

Commercial: Process-centric workflow.

Research: distributed dynamic human activity coordination in RT environment.


Why I like BPM as an Application Domain(Unsure about being “the” killer ap)

  • Amenable to “agent” solutions.

  • Two ways to motivate investment:

    • A product for sale.

    • Internal use / not for sale.

      • All companies, agencies, universities, etc., can improve efficiency of processes.

      • Potentially cheaper / smaller barriers.

  • Some version of the problem space is probably accessible to you.

  • The problem exists today:

    • You will be proposing new solution to a known (and familiar) problem.

      • Les Gasser’s anecdote

    • i.e., not developing both a new product and a new market.


Process-centric WorkflowAgents vs More Conventional Approaches

  • Gross categorizations – probably ranges of things.

  • *If* conventional workflow is often:

    • Centralized.

    • Complete / global information.

    • Top-down – tasks are put at human effectors.

    • Monolithic / fully integrated.

    • Tending toward static.

  • An agent approach might be:

    • Distributed (implies scalable, implies ability to span enterprises).

    • Able to operate with partial information.

    • Blend top-down (direction from management) with bottom-up (performers inputting preferences, choices, and tasks themselves).

    • Loosely coupled (easier to integrate heterogeneous systems).

    • Tending toward dynamic / adaptive.

  • For the predictability question – if you can get a customer to ask that question, they are already interested in your vision. (You have to generate your own actual response to that question.)


Funding Your Custom BPM Vision Incremental Investment / Payoff

Hypothetical vision: intelligent systems, stupid systems, and humans that work together both within an enterprise and across enterprises.

Problem: research is expensive, payoffs are uncertain, takes a long time to make anything happen.

Research

Cost

Incremental investment.

Hypothetical waypoint: centralized management of tasks of two humans who always work on related process / have activities that interact.

Catch-22: You still have to shoot high or they don’t need you.

n

.5

Project Years


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