Thursday, September 29, 2005

Windows Workflow Foundation

In my 2002 book, BPM: The Third Wave, I said: "Business process management products are available from many vendors, in versions ranging from departmental workgroup solutions to enterprise-scale infrastructure—-a range of solutions to meet all needs. It is possible that personal BPM tools, akin to the commodity databases that form part of commonly used office productivity suites, will emerge. Imagine a “Process Office” suite, providing an integrated, process-centric approach to collaboration, computation, work manage-ment, process modeling and simulation. Such a vision is entirely realistic if based on a third-wave approach." In the Epilog to that book, I also said, "Over the last five years, delivering business applications has become much more complex, with layer upon layer of new infrastructure requirements and new features. While this has been good for IT industry players that sell new products for new layers, it is not necessarily so good for companies that use them as business tools. When complexity mounts and eventually becomes unmanageable, it’s time for action."

The book described the radical simplication of business process technology necessary, and, this month, Microsoft announced its technology to make this real for Windows users: Windows Workflow Foundation.

"Third wave" BPM features have been available in enterprise-class products for some time, in Workflow Management Systems (WFMS) and Business Process Management Systems (BPMS), and more recently, in expensive ERP products -- to one extent or another. Microsoft is now moving these features to the desktop, and by doing so, will make them a ubiquitous part of the everyday computing landscape, as they have done with Word Processing, Spreadsheets and Databases.

The foundations for this new technology lie in the field of Process Calculus, specifically, Pi Calculus and Join Calculus, as well as Petri Nets. These foundations were used by, over the period 1999 to 2003, to define BPML, the Business Process Modeling Language. They were also used by Microsoft to create XLANG, the foundation of BizTalk, and later by IBM to create BPEL (which some regard as a commercial copycat of BPML.)

I cannot say more about Windows Workflow Foundation until I have had time to study and understand what has achieved. A book about WWF is already available, and that page gives the BLOG addresses for those architects involved in the development of WWF, such as Dave Green. WWF will give both gorilla ERP vendors, and smaller workflow players, much to think about. BPM vendors have showed how to give business users control of the processes around them. Microsoft will do this in office productivity packages. As a result, productivity will take on new meaning for Office users. For knowledge workers are not just interested in personal productivity, but the productivity of the teams around them. Their work is not just in processes, but with processes, their discovery, design, deployment, operations, measurement and optimization.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Imaginatik's Idea Central is selected as Trend-Setting Product - KM World - Sept 2005 - KM World announced its list of "trend-setting products" for 2005 with Idea Central as one of the award winners. The annual awards are KM World's way to acknowledge leading technology companies and their vision toward the future for knowledge and content management. The winning Trend-Setters are chosen by editorial writers as well as a host of analysts and users from C-level executives to entry-level knowledge workers. This panel reviewed more than 1,200 products from more than 200 vendors and judged on their usability, flexibility, adoption rate and total cost of ownership.

Imaginatik is the leading provider of Idea Management software and processes, with global clients in consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, finance, chemicals, manufacturing and government. Mark Turrell, CEO, is a leading thinker on innovation.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Visual Insight

A trend? Visual Insight works with leaders of organizations and industries who are pioneering the use of visual communication to engage, connect, and inspire people. We are unique in that we combine content expertise (in leadership process, organizational learning, and technology) with art (specifically, the use of symbols that cross cultures, geographies and time) and long experience in journalism (objective observation and concise reporting). We do not believe in giving advice; we have the conviction that good leaders, educators and knowledge workers already have the implicit wisdom to reach their goals. Our clients say that we help them clearly understand and immediately convey their own emerging ideas, enabling them to take action with effective new communication tools.

Visual Insight was founded by Eileen Clegg after discovering the value of bringing together her experience with three disciplines: journalism, art, and research in the future of learning. The practice she calls "visual journalism" began with documenting presentations and meetings she attended for her research.

Rather than recording everything that was said, she found herself selecting the key ideas and new concepts that fit together as a coherent story. Intuitively, the story would take a literal shape as an image, through interplay of intuition, logic and old fashioned objective reporting. She began receiving calls from think tanks, conference organizers, and leadership trainers who wanted her to visually document their events. Often, clients ask us to reflect back to them what we have heard, so they can objectively assess how their ideas sound and look to others.

Workflow Institute

These guys get it. The Workflow Institute serves decision-makers at the intersection of business results, enterprise systems, and human performance. We promote the understanding and use of real-time learning in industry and government worldwide. We Identify new developments and interpret technology trends. Our backgrounds in instructional design, cognitive science, enterprise computing, and software architectures, coupled with our passion for helping people make the most of technology, have positioned us at the forefront of the Workflow Learning movement.

Jay Cross is Managing Director of the Workflow Institute. A thought leader in learning technology, Jay coined the terms “eLearning” and "workflow learning." Gary J. Dickelman is a Fellow of the Workflow Institute. Gary leads our Performance-Centered Design practice. He applies knowledge management, human factors, learning technology, and business process engineering to creating systems that human beings can actually use. Gloria Gery is the first Fellow of the Workflow Institute. Gloria invented the field of Electronic Performance Support. She was a champion of performance-centered design twenty years before its current popularity. She has taught our industry to "give up the idea that competence must exist within the person and expand our view that whenever possible it should be built into the situation."