Gartner Group predicts Adaptive Process Trend

After posting this, I now realize that I need to thank analyst Janelle Hill (and colleagues) for making their predictions on BPM despite my disappointments with Gartner Group in the past. As a matter of fact, they are now validating my long-term approach despite refusing a briefing on our Papyrus User-Trained Agent for  process machine-learning (not analysis) in 2007. Without flowchart design, we were not considered a BPM solution. Only once a substantial percentage of players in the market do something it shows up on analyst radar screens, as they do not look at business needs and overvalue the products of large players.

Now however, Gartner defines a significant share of the BPM market as ours as they acknowledge the need for the support of unstructured and dynamic processes. Unstructured process is case management work and dynamic means that the business user can switch sub-processes in a process instance. We do both but those have less potential than the concept of Adaptive Process that I propose as the future. See Adaptive Process Defined. Adaptive means that the business user can additionally make a permanent change (if authorized) to the process template during the execution of a process instance and thus create a new process variant.

It is most interesting that in the new diction of Gartner, BPM is now encompassing processes that were not so long ago the antithesis of BPM, not to say the antichrist – unstructured, non-routine, unpredictable, non-sequential, complex and even chaotic! Fantastic! It now represents ALL KINDS of business activities, including knowledge work.  So latest in 2011 you will see all the BPM methodology books being updated with the new trend. Long live BPM!

Yes, process synthesis on the level of capability maps is most probably a very effective way to structure a business but process flowcharts are only usable for a small percentage. I give rigidly designed processes 20%, unstructured (cases) 20%, dynamic 20%, and the rest (40%) can only be executed as adaptive processes. I think that 20% of processes will be very collaborative in style and only be kept together by the data context. Consequently, all business activity can be executed by  an Adaptive Process infrastructure – from designed to emergent processes!


Adaptive processes flll the gap between BPM and Social

Gartner Groups key predictions for BPM are:

“By 2012, 20 per cent of customer-facing processes will be knowledge-adaptable and assembled just in time to meet the demands and preferences of each customer, assisted by BPM technologies.”

Gartner Group predicts that the next evolution of BPM will support processes that self-adjust based on the analysis of real-time data patterns. This is the core element of my User-Trained Agent patent application from 1997.

“By 2013, dynamic BPM will be an imperative for companies seeking process efficiencies in increasingly chaotic environments.”

I am sorry, but environments aren’t any more chaotic than they were before. Yes, the rate of change has increased but that does not make it more chaotic. Management withdrew a somewhat from the command and control illusion. When looked at it realistically, orthodox BPM as methodology and software was simply not able to support the dynamics of the complex adaptive social system. Processes were analyzed, implemented, simulated, tested and standardized to death. BPM has sofar reduced business agility! Finally it is being admitted that it is not enough, albeit by proclaiming ‘increasing chaos.”

Gartner fellow Daryl Plummer says, that the latency of change has to be reduced. Let me put it this way: “How about NO latency?” The BPMS must enable the authorized business user to create and execute processes as needed. Certainly there has to be a change management functionality for  business architecture entities such as data, business rules, sub-processes, but also content and GUI definitions. Also the need for the integration and management of artifacts such as rules and content is acknowledged, as well as the need to link these dynamic processes with events.

“Through 2014, the act of composition will be a stronger opportunity to deliver value from software than the act of development.”

This statement about assembling software components seems to relate to Business (Process) Mashups. That means that the processes have to link-up software components  as well as people. Defining processes before and seperately from implementation is no longer practical. It certainly matches with my definition of Adaptive Process, which says that the creation of processes is moved from the analysis phase to the execution phase and from the analyst to the business user. Certainly no coding allowed and it also requires a deployment mechanism. Well, a perfect description of the Papyrus Platform. I have recommended for years that the IT department has to move closer to the business and look at projects and collaboration differently. The long develop-test-deploy-tune loop has to be dramatically shortened.

“By 2014, business process networks (BPNs) will underpin 35 per cent of new multienterprise integration projects.”

Gartner anticipates that a similar trend will appear for B2B applications and processes.

“By 2014, 40 per cent of business managers and knowledge workers in Global 2000 enterprises will use comprehensive business process models to support their daily work, up from 6 per cent in 2009.”

That implies that business processes will after all be modeled. That may or may not be true dependent on what you call modeling. If displaying a process graph of any kind is modeling than this prediction will come true. If it means upfront process design, I seriously doubt that. I see the social networked design mechanisms as cute but even if various people collaborate on a process definition, it still has to be implemented and all the artifacts created, data-linked to the backend and business events discovered. But most certainly, there will have to be a business architecture functionality that improves communication between business departments and business and IT.

Given the complexity of the model to execution step, it is understandable that Gartner still recommends a Process Center of Excellence by suggesting that one will be needed to create a process modeling methodology. I however suggest to get rid of all the unnecessary bureaucracy and use the right technology to empower business users and customers directly.

I am the founder and Chief Technology Officer of Papyrus Software, a medium size software company offering solutions in communications and process management around the globe. I am also the owner and CEO of MJP Racing, a motorsports company focused on Rallycross or RX, a form of circuit racing on mixed surfaces that has been around for 40 years. I hold 8 national and international championship titles in RX. My team participates in the World Championship along Petter Solberg, Sebastian Loeb and Ken Block.

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Posted in Adaptive Process, analysts, Application Lifecycle, BPM, Process
13 comments on “Gartner Group predicts Adaptive Process Trend
  1. […] Max Pucher responds with “Gartner Group predicts Adaptive Process Trend“ […]


  2. […] BPM Quotes of the week On Gartner’s Predictions – Max Pucher BPM is now encompassing processes that were not so long ago the antithesis of BPM, not to say the an… […]


  3. @AlbertoManuel says:


    I think you contributed a lot to bring this discussion alive, anyway in my humble opinion a truly adaptive process is not:

    Being adaptable is not the ability to easily modify the process, or create and run an ad hoc process.

    But is this:

    1. The process in which end-users influence how a design takes shape

    2. Ensuring complete alignment of all stakeholder’s mutations

    3. Being adaptable means the capability of being predictive.

    I’ve written something about the subject. Feel free do leave your comments.



    • AlbertoManuel, thanks but you are just referring to the process design phase. This is often referred to as Social BPM, like ARISalign. There are no stakeholders in a process oriented business. The stakeholder BECOMES the process owner. An adaptive system IS NOT predictive. It does not need to be predictive because the process is not rigid. The term ADAPTIVE means that the entity changes by its own inner means to better fit into a changing environment.

      Adaptive process creates and ad-hoc process and then the users that work with it shape the process and that also creates a template. So the next time the process is no longer ad-hoc but starts from the template, while it still remains adaptive. There is no need to somehow manage stakeholder alignment. That happens by itself. Current BPM systems are unable to handle that and thus they try to improve the upfront process design by a social paradigm. That phase will pass too …


  4. @AlbertoManuel says:

    Hello Max :
    Thanks for sharing your ideas.
    Some thought of my own.
    If there are no Stakeholders in a process oriented business, how can a company design and run its process? When you say Stakeholder becomes the process owner (that is the swift paradigm companies need to embrace) it contradicts the no statakeholder involvement you defend.
    It’s necessary to separate a system from the process. Predictive systems can be found for example in maintenance and accounting. Business processes must be predictive. Companies can only do that making tight linking to strategic planning, discussing future business scenarios, and reflecting that scenarios influencing the way processes are executed, actually changing it (taking a ride with and ad-hoc process seeing if it works until become official – this is the real thing), thus process become truly adaptive. If you don’t create business processes that are stakeholder centric, companies will create value to no one only for itself.



  5. AlbertoManuel, thanks. We need to agree to disagree in terminology. You call them stakeholders, I call them process owners. There is however no such thing as prediction in complex adaptive systems (aka the economy). The process owner must follow a customer perceived value paradigm and include the customer in his process.

    If you have a change in strategy, all you want is the business to be capable of adapting to it without having to go through a long process change cycle. You inform the process owners of the new goals, (maybe set up a new team) an off you go. The changes in the environment can be dealt with without strategic redesigns as process owners follow the larger goals but not a rigid process.

    I think we are saying the same thing mostly, but I don’t believe in upfront process design and you seem to do. You go ahead and design and implement processes, while I start to work immediately as my processes adapt to my needs on the fly. There is nothing I need to predict. All I need is communication and transparency.

    Processes can’t be designed to be effective they have to emerge and management uses transparency to ensure that they are as efficient as possible. You can’t design effectiveness and that’s why old-style process flowcharts target costs mostly.


  6. […] J. Pucher (Chief Architect) fera un exposé sur les «adaptive processes», permettant de confirmer le renforcement de l’autonomie des utilisateurs. Au cours de cet […]


  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Allison Lloyd. Allison Lloyd said: If you liked our article on Gartner's BPM predictions, read Max Pucher's response to their 5 predictions. […]


  8. Adaptive processes must have flexibility designed in from the start. Take an IT budget process for a large multi-national for example. It must do its budget planning in conformance with local financial regulations but be consistent across the enterprise.
    In manufacturing with truely flexible processes, it is possible to have quantities as low as one being mass produced.
    Flexibility, can also be process adaptability as in automatically or manually add or remove quality checks or controls depending on the value or complexity or customer wishes, as required.
    Truely adaptive processed begin exhibit aspects of intelligence. They adapt and learn based on historical records analysis. If an organisation has defined, repeatable processes, then prediction based on past performance is possible. If the processes are imature, I agree prediction is not possible.


  9. […] processes. I have posted  a graphic about a similar spread of interaction types in March 2010 when I commented on Jeanelle Hills BPM predictions, but I see them as different technologies and concepts. Jim says that he wants to stay away from a […]


  10. Max, Your definition of BPM always focuses on structured processes. However, I’ve always defined BPM as supporting both structured and unstructured processes. And most BPM vendors provide some level of support for both patterns. Some, like HandySoft and Pegasystems can support completely unstructured ad-hoc processes, while other can support semi-structured (or process fragments). I’m curious, why do you define BPM to only focus on structured processes?


    • Clay, thank you for reading and commenting. Much appreciated. First, I would not consider ad-hoc processes as necessarily being unstructured. In most cases they are simply that, one ad-hoc task and have little or no other means to create a more detailed process. Second, the ability to modify process flow or assemble process fragments is fairly recent and not a generic, or widely-used BPM capability. So BPM (as a stereo-typed market definition) by the largest number of vendors is about structured, flowcharted processes, agreed? Pegasystems is an outlier as it is rule-driven, and there are some new entrants that are state/event driven (like ISIS Papyrus since 2001) and some very new ones are goal-driven, which we also support in our model.

      BPM methodologists frequently tell me that BPM is not about technology, which is nonsense, and that it is not about flowcharts. Most certainly one can see BPM as a definition step only in Balanced Scorecards and Capability Maps, but today if they want to go into execution they start to draw flowcharts. Businesses need a substantial governance and IT overhead to implement and maintain a flwocharted BPM environment. Flowcharts are unable to model the real-world dynamics of a business, and most certainly not for knowledge work. BPM is still mostly done to drive down costs by rigidly automating and standardizing processes. That is the reality.

      I am not saying that I have a perfect solution to these problems, but my target is to get away from the rigidity that flowcharts or complex rule engines bring. Once an architecture model is available it should be possible to use it to create a library of process goals that process owners and actors can pick from to assemble processes before or at runtime from data sources, content (in/out), rules, GUI and clearly goals. Most BPM systems don’t even deal with managing content when that is the core of each process. Content requires programming and introduces even more rigidity.

      I did say in my posts that I think that the BPM definition will simply be expanded by the new approaches, creating even more confusion in the market. Many vendors simply paste the new buzzwords into their marketing materials, distorting them and the definition beyond recognition. It would be great if the analyst community would delve deeper into the products than they do now, consider vendor size and marketshare less, but focus on the real-world benefit to the business. I think the vendor classifications and quadrants are not helpful in that respect.

      Until recently, we did process without flowcharts so we were not considered BPM. Now we are. Or maybe not? Eventually, we will see the full ECM, CRM and BPM consolidation we offer since ten years. So the BPM definition used now will be completely irrelevant at some point.


  11. […] I posted about the differences between the various BPM adjectives and approaches one year ago. That analysis is still as valid an nothing has changed since then. Gartner Group also had a shot at predictions on the future of process management and here is my take on it. […]


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Max J. Pucher
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