One of the biggest issues in IT that many people talk about is how much data there is floating around the enterprise that lacks any context. The reason for this is because most data is associated with a specific application, which in itself often lacks any association with a specific business process. This situation is only getting worse with the advent of both mobile and cloud computing because as people start to access cloud applications using multiple devices, it becomes harder than ever to maintain context.
The folks at Appian are making a case for a new approach to business process management (BPM) that uses metadata to make sure that the context associated with any given business process is maintained regardless of the medium used to access it. That not only makes it easier for end users to move between devices and environments, but it makes it possible to make more informed business decisions.
According to Appian CTO Michael Beckley, the Appian BPM framework allows this to happen by using metadata that makes it possible to more easily collaborate by associating specific data to business processes. Beckley says Appian is essentially a social application development platform optimized for BPM. Data is either stored in Appian's native content repository or stored in databases such as Oracle or Hadoop.
Mobile and cloud computing, combined with social networking, are changing the way companies work. Beckley argues that traditional ERP applications were never designed to govern specific business processes. They were not designed to allow organizations to dynamically adjust and create new business processes that today span mobile, on-premise and cloud computing environments.
The BPM revolution has been a long time in coming. Part of the problem has been that most business processes that have been automated by IT using ERP software are fairly static. But now we're starting to see the rise of more dynamic business processes that will require software that can more easily adapt to change. Whether that will lead to a massive amount of renewed interest in BPM remains to be seen. But one thing that is for sure is that companies are struggling to keep up with the rate of business process change, which means a new way of thinking about managing those processes is probably in order.