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Putting Work in Context Duggal-Malyk COCOA2010 120610b

Putting Work in Context Duggal-Malyk COCOA2010 120610b

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ABSTRACT: This paper outlines barriers to Enterprise Agility posed by distributed Information System architecture and proposes a solution. The relationship between agility and context-awareness is explored. The authors introduce the Ideate Framework™, a Context-Aware Information System. The Framework provides a unified process architecture layer, above legacy and Service Oriented environments, which coordinates loosely-coupled resources using dynamically configured contracts. The System induces the emergent properties necessary to achieve sustainable agility.
ABSTRACT: This paper outlines barriers to Enterprise Agility posed by distributed Information System architecture and proposes a solution. The relationship between agility and context-awareness is explored. The authors introduce the Ideate Framework™, a Context-Aware Information System. The Framework provides a unified process architecture layer, above legacy and Service Oriented environments, which coordinates loosely-coupled resources using dynamically configured contracts. The System induces the emergent properties necessary to achieve sustainable agility.

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Putting Work in Context for Enterprise Agility

Dave Duggal and William Malyk {dave, bill}@ideate.com Presented December 6, 2010 The 4th Annual Workshop on Coordination, Collaboration and Ad-hoc Processes (COCOA 2010) HP Labs, Palo Alto California

ABSTRACT: This paper outlines barriers to Enterprise Agility posed by distributed Information System architecture and proposes a solution. The relationship between agility and context-awareness is explored. The authors introduce the Ideate Framework™, a Context-Aware Information System. The Framework provides a unified process architecture layer, above legacy and Service Oriented environments, which coordinates loosely-coupled resources using dynamically configured contracts. The System induces the emergent properties necessary to achieve sustainable agility.

Enterprise Agility is the ability to respond to individual events and adapt to a continuously changing business environment. This requires a fundamental rethink of information architecture. The last fifty years of mainstream business computing brought efficiencies through standardization, predicated on discrete and relatively static models of process, data, and capabilities. The problem is, as statistician George E. P. Box succinctly stated [1], “All models are wrong, some are useful.” Static models are over-specified; a reductionist abstraction that induces rigidity and constrains variance. This is evidenced by the presence of ‘exceptions’ and the related need for continuous improvement. Exception management depends on disciplined reporting; however, in practice exceptions are often recorded separately in shadow systems, on paper, or not at all. Moreover, improvement programs themselves tend to stagnate [2], reinforcing informal behaviors. Implementing ‘continuous’ remedial intervention across distributed systems is not agility. In today’s increasingly volatile markets, with innovation cycles accelerating and competition increasing, standardization is an abstraction most organizations cannot afford. The only things predictable are change, exceptions and events. A 2010 PriceWaterhouseCoopers publication [3] noted In business, as in all other complex aspects of life, the problem is relying on bad models that don’t allow for unpredictable behavior—what modelers call the “emergent properties” of complex systems. Every company is itself a complex adaptive system. Often it’s the unpredictable behavior of that complex system that leads to value creation in a company. For that reason, especially when it comes to today’s rapidly changing business environment, how enterprises address the “messiness” factor can lead to success or failure.

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Copyright 2010, Consilience International LLC

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To increase responsiveness businesses need to address large volumes of interactions on an individualized basis. To accommodate non-disruptive change applications need to co-evolve with their constituent parts. Adaptation depends on situational awareness and the operational flexibility to efficiently manage variance [4, 5]. Transparency is not enough. Agility requires more than actionable business intelligence; it requires an integrated and dynamic approach for working with process, data, and capabilities in context [6]. Context is the web of relationships that give events and facts meaning. Context is so fundamental to human understanding that we don’t notice it until it’s missing. While everyone would prefer that their work be taken in context, the pillars of the modern enterprise application infrastructure make this practically impossible. ---------------------------------------------------------Impediments to Agility Business Process Management Suites, Relational Database Management Systems, and Services are three system components commonly used to manage process, data, and functionality respectively. Examination of these components reveals common constraints that limit system dynamics. The two root causes of enterprise inflexibility are: 1) schemas coupling model definitions with fixed relationships; and 2) the indirection present in distributed component-based architecture.

Figure 1

Business Process Management Suites (BPMS) couple Task descriptions with control flows as part of defined process. A process may have conditional paths, but for every condition there is a fixed response. There is no direct means for context (e.g. user discretion, events, or changes in related background/reference information) to influence the process – the next step is always predefined.

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Copyright 2010, Consilience International LLC

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Moreover, while a BPMS captures transaction details about its running processes, it has no direct connection to the actual business data/content it collects in the course of those processes, which is stored separately in one or more Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS). This arms length relationship means process is removed from its context. Services are a common vehicle for exchanging data between a BPMS and RDBMS. Service Orientated Architecture (SOA) is a leading architectural style for sharing business data and functions between systems. SOA couples interface descriptions with functionality as part of a service definition. While a process may call a Service to retrieve information from the RDBMS, it has no means to influence what the Service will do - the implementation of the service is fixed. The RDBMS itself couples Business Entity descriptions with entity relations as part of a static schema. The range of potential relationships is consistent across every process. There is no meaningful interaction between the BPMS, a Service and the RDBMS other than feeding and retrieving information. There are no practical means for any combination of BPMS, RDBMS and Services to render contextawareness. The approach is intrinsically unresponsive to the unique conditions and circumstances of any individual business interaction. Introducing additional services via other middleware components (e.g. Event Processing; Business Rules Management; Master Data Management; etc.) adds capabilities, but also increases cost, complexity and latency. Adding such services, without unifying principles, does not address the fundamental limitations of the overall system architecture. ---------------------------------------------------------The Ideate Framework™ Ideate connects work to its business context so people can make informed decisions. The Framework, patents pending [7], provides a flexible architecture with a unified approach to dynamic modeling of process, data, and capabilities. It is optimized for unpredictable or highly-variable knowledge-work driven by human discretion and events [8]. In these situations static process models would result in constant exceptions, while ad hoc approaches would not provide the depth of regulation for compliance [9] or convenience of time-saving automation [10]. Ideate fuses the component-based distributed design principles of Service Orientation, the leading enterprise architectural style, with the scalability and linked interrelationships of Representational State Transfer (REST), the architectural style of the World Wide Web, to deliver a practical hybrid solution for Enterprise Agility. ----------------------------------------------------------

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Copyright 2010, Consilience International LLC

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Putting Work in Context The Ideate Framework supports emergent processes that unfold, step-by-step. The stop-and-go asynchronous process approach is an affordance that allows the system to evaluate the latest context information and construct a custom response for every interaction. The context information includes: 1) an activity identifier, latest inputs and the requested action (i.e. ‘inband’ context); and 2) all activity history along with all of its nested relationships, plus any applicable rules, entities, services, etc. referenced in the course of the operation (i.e. collectively the ‘out-of-band’ context). All information is stored as loosely-coupled Resources (i.e. information addressable by a URI) with relationships flexibly represented by metadata tags. The resources reside in a virtual repository built on a graph information model.

Figure 2

The unified organization of information allows the system to use a single canonical protocol for the coordination of resources as directed by ‘underspecified’ contracts. Under-specification is an important axiom in the Ideate Framework; it is an abstraction that supports generalization of models. While static models constrain variance by design, underspecified models promote dynamicity as they require interpretation. They provide flexibility by separating the model from its implementation – the model will return different results in different circumstances. Underspecification allows developers to think of models as heuristics, guidelines for execution, rather than fixed plans. Ideate features a meta-programming layer with just 12 under-specified reflective programs that represent high-level system methods. Each makes an assortment of generalized references to out-ofband context resources to calculate applicable business rules, governance policies, transaction

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Copyright 2010, Consilience International LLC

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requirements, and the user-interface. Every system interaction calls one of these meta-programs as ‘the contract’ for some operation. In-band context information bootstraps the canonical protocol, which uses an agent to ‘walk’ the link relations in the repository (i.e. “the web of relationships”). The agent recursively calls resources to resolve generalized references and perform transformations as directed. In this way, it trims the graph to relevant out-of-band context by progressive evaluation. The same protocol is used to calculate the system response, and one or more recommended and/or directed next actions (i.e. the subsequent underspecified contracts). The deterministic protocol allows non-deterministic responses (i.e. a consistent method for managing variety). Other probabilistic, semantic or artificial intelligence methods can be included by reference. The dynamic configuration of contracts makes the degree of structure (i.e. control logic) an interaction variable. System responses are as procedural as necessary and as flexible as possible at each step. In this way, context-awareness liberates process from static centrally defined models while retaining necessary controls. This enables Ideate applications to support a range between structured processes (e.g. BPMS; ERP; Expert Systems; etc.) and unstructured actions (e.g. Enterprise Content Management; Case Management; Social Collaboration; Email; Paper; etc.) within one system [11].

Figure 3

The result is a new form of interaction-centric process automation with integrated decision support that recommends or directs next actions based on circumstances. Ideate provides flexibility while balancing interests of efficiency [12] and effectiveness [13]. Historically, such mass customization [14, 15] has been considered too ‘expensive’ in terms of system overhead and latency [16].

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Copyright 2010, Consilience International LLC

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References
1. Section heading, page 2 of George E. P. Box's May 1979 paper, "Robustness in the Strategy of Scientific Model Building". In: Launer RL, Wilkinson GN, eds. Robustness in Statistics: Proceedings of a Workshop. New York: Academic Press; 1979:40. Satya S. Chakravorty, January 25, 2010, “Where Process-Improvement Projects Go Wrong”. Wall Street Journal. Tom DeGarmo, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, January 2010, “Message from the Editor”. In: TechnologyForecast, 2010, Issue 1. Copyright PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Not for further use without the permission of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Stafford Beer, 1972, “Brain of the Firm”. Karsten Ploesser, Jan Recker, and Michael Rosemann, September 2010, “Supporting Context-Aware Process Design: Learnings from a Design Science Study”. Workshop paper. David W. McCoy, September 20, 2010, “Context-Enhanced Performance: Reducing Process Stagnation and Chaos”. Gartner analyst report. Dave Duggal and William Malyk, February 2, 2009, “Resource Processing Using an Intermediary for Context-Based Customization of Interaction Deliverables”. USPTO Patent application and EPO PCT. Examples of knowledge-work well suited for Ideate’s case management: Research & Development; Patient Management; Strategic Planning; Emergency Response; Report Writing; Investigation Work; Insurance Claims; Custom Production Work; and virtually any form of Project-based work which are team-oriented, and where the details, timelines and resources are subject to change making the project a living document versus a fixed plan. Examples of compliance use-cases well suited for Ideate’s case management: financial controls; conflict of interest detection; complex form validation; contra-indications for drugs; resource thresholds; etc.)

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10. Examples of automation use-cases well suited for Ideate’s case management: complex regulatory forms; budgeting-planning-financial management; resource recommendations; etc. 11. Craig Le Clair and Derek Miers, November 18, 2010, “Forrester Update: Dynamic Case Management”. 12. Frederick Winslow Taylor, 1911, “The Principles of Scientific Management”. 13. Peter Ferdinand Drucker, 1966, “The Effective Executive”. 14. Chase, Richard B.; Jacobs, F. Robert; Aquilano, Nicholas J. (2006). Operations Management for Competitive Advantage (11th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin. 15. Tseng, M.M.; Jiao, J. (2001). Mass Customization, in: Handbook of Industrial Engineering, Technology and Operation Management (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-33057-4. 16. Walid Taha, Jan 22, 2007, “Resource Aware Programming”.

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