Magic! Why processes are important in the IoT

2013 has been a tipping point for the Internet of Things (IoT). First, it was the year when the business world took over thought leadership from research and technology evangelists. Second, it was also the year when the intelligent management of business processes started to appear frequently on the agenda when discussing the Internet of Things. I have to admit, the relationship between the managing of processes and the connecting of devices is not self-explanatory, and was mainly of interest to business process management (BPM) software vendors and dedicated industry analysts. Now, a year later, the Internet of Things and intelligent processes are frequently interrelated when talking about making the connected world a reality. When I look back to the history of Bosch Software Innovations, I must say (with quite some pride 🙂 ) that Bosch was truly visionary back in 2011 and 2008 – when it added the companies inubit (provider of business process management software) and Software Innovations (provider of business rules management software) to the Group; they are now spearheading Bosch’s IoT activities.

Tweet from Sandy Kemsley, independent analyst and systems architect, specializing in business process management, Enterprise 2.0, enterprise architecture and business intelligence.

Tweet from Sandy Kemsley, independent analyst and systems architect, specializing in business process management, Enterprise 2.0, enterprise architecture and business intelligence.

Positioned as a Visionary in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for Intelligent Business Process Management Suites

Recent studies show that 29 percent of C-level executives expect the IoT to have impact on their business processes. That’s why I’m happy that analyst Gartner positioned Bosch Software Innovations, in the second year, in the Visionary quadrant based on our ability to execute and completeness of vision. The report positions 14 vendors. A copy of the report can be obtained here.

We believe, this is yet more confirmation that our approach of combining IoT-enabling technology with business process management software is the right one. Many IoT application platform vendors are focusing only on connecting devices and providing some form of basic asset management in the backend – we call it Device Management (M2M).

In almost all of our customer projects, we see that deploying only M2M software falls short of addressing the customer’s challenges. In almost every case, IoT business models require much more than basic M2M application functionality. Customers want more than just passive asset monitoring and management. While this is an important foundation, nearly every IoT project has a major impact on a large number of business processes in the enterprise.

The role of processes in the IoT

If a company is deploying assets in large numbers, these deployments have to be tightly integrated with the enterprise’s business processes. This starts with very asset-specific production, sales, and commissioning processes. For example, the asset needs to register itself with the IoT once it is activated by the customer. This requires a very robust commissioning process that can also deal with problems and failures. During operation, the assets must be able to interact with a variety of backend processes, e.g. for managing condition changes, handling alert events, etc. Large amounts of data coming from the asset must be efficiently analyzed, and it is essential to provide mapping to backend processes that can react to the results of this analysis. We call this interaction pattern ‘device-to-process.’ Similarly, business processes must be able to reach out to devices, for example to re-configure a device based on the outcomes of a process. We call this pattern ‘process-to-device.’

In order to make the operation of large device networks in the IoT more intelligent, typically large numbers of decisions have to be taken. These decisions should be supported by business rules management, which makes decisions transparent and enables business administrators to configure these rules. For example, a rule can analyze an event and define thresholds that determine the flow of a process to handle the situation.

In our view, the fact that Bosch Software Innovations – which might not have been an obvious BPM player in the beginning – is positioned in the iBPMS Magic Quadrant is strong confirmation of our vision to address the IoT by combining these important technologies in our software suite. This is another important step for us to continue our work as a pioneer of IoT solutions.

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About the author

Dirk Slama

Dirk Slama

Dirk Slama is Director of Business Development at Bosch Software Innovations. Bosch Software Innovations is spearheading the Internet of Things (IoT) activities of Bosch, the global engineering group. As Conference Chair of the Bosch ConnectedWorld, Dirk helps shaping the IoT strategy of Bosch. Dirk has over 20 years experience in very large-scale application projects, system integration and Business Process Management. His international work experience includes projects for Lufthansa Systems, Boeing, AT&T, NTT DoCoMo, HBOS and others. Dirk is a frequent speaker at conferences, as well as co-author of three successful books: Enterprise BPM, Enterprise SOA and Enterprise CORBA. He holds an MBA from IMD Lausanne as well as a Diploma (MSc equivalent) in Computer Science from TU Berlin.