It's Time for the Intelligent Internet of Autonomous Things
Last time I outlined the relationship between the Internet of Things (IoT) and processes for desirable outcomes. To optimize that relationship, the IoT will have to become smarter and more independent, plus processes will have to relinquish some centralized control. The dominant approach is leveraging the IoT as a process assistant, but there are other ways to have this pairing in operation.
1. IoT as the Assistant
The IoT can assist processes by providing functional support for tasks that a process delegates to the IoT, usually in the form of a task-focused agent/thing. In this approach the process or case milestones are in control and the IoT assists the process to accomplish its targeted outcomes. The process is aware of the agent/thing and orchestrates and controls it and its effects and outputs. These agents or things have simple functionality and little intelligence to apply to the task unless the agent is a reasoning person in an IoT inventory.
2. IoT as the Intelligent Assistant
As in the IoT as the Assistant, the control of the process or case is outside the agent, but now the agent can handle more than simple tasks. The IoT, through agents/things, can add significant knowledge or the power of analysis, or even deductions for decisions, to guide the controlling process in new paths and outcomes. It's not unimaginable to have thousands of smart boards — knowledge-focused Watson-like agents and specialized stringers — available as process assists for complex tasks. These tasks could include watching context for the process (such as markets, rules, literature, news, possible scenarios, and emerging behavior).
3. IoT as the Collaborative Manager
As these agents/things become more intelligent, goal driven, and networked for common results, they may dynamically collaborate and invoke processes, portions of processes (snippets), cases, or milestones to manage the outcomes, independent of central control. While governance constraints will have to be established, networks of things will be able to deal with emerging conditions and actions, decide a course of action, and take appropriate steps to create desirable results within these constraints. These constraints could be associated with expected and unexpected scenarios, and be inventoried for guidance and governance.
The IoT and processes are a strong combination, and as the IoT gets more intelligent and autonomous the shift of control will happen to be more distributed (away from the central controlling process). My expectations would be that, over time, a hybrid approach will emerge.
Tom Keeley, "Rules versus Reason; the Internet of Things; and (Human?) 'Experts'," (Mar. 13, 2014), URL: http://www.aonetwork.com/blogs/Rules-versus-Reason-the-Internet-Things-and-Human-Experts
Jim Sinur, "Harnessing Business Complexity with Agent Based Processes," (Sep. 17, 2013), URL: http://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2013/09/harnessing-business-complexity-with.html
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