Friday, May 20, 2016

Will this become THE platform for IoT-based business processes

This week at Knowledge16 in Las Vegas, ServiceNow made some pretty cool announcements, a few of which are extremely relevant to the IoT space and to my last few blog posts.  The Day 2 keynote from Dan McGee is the best place to see the full details, but I'll give you  may take on it here...

ServiceNow introduced what they call The "Connected Experience".  It's a way for any enterprise to build business processes and workflows on top of the Internet of Things without a custom application for every business process.

The biggest problem with IoT today is that it's often thought of as a big dumping ground for all kinds of data that will be analyzed to find the great insight.  The reality of IoT is that it will be devices that publish specific events and data, which feed a specific business process (or workflow).  Tightly coupled devices & processes.

Today, that business process requires a custom application to be written for the consumption and use of that information, to drive the business process.  Even with the most "agile" and "extreme" development processes, that's a lot of custom apps, interfaces and code to manage which will be slow to develop and expensive to maintain.

The ServiceNow "Connected Experience" provides is a way to build structured workflows and business processes based on subscribing to the events and analyzing that data.  At it's core is a workflow engine, with an application interface for end users to see their tasks, to collaborate and conduct work. This has a modern web app and a mobile interface. Lastly there is an analytics engine to provide more predictive notifications and workflows.  A screen shot from the keynote shows the concepts and workflow in detail...

To make this easier to understand, let's use a couple of examples...  The first one is pretty close to the current ServiceNow business.  There's a server that fails in a branch office for a global bank.  The notification is sent, starting a workflow to repair the server.  The workflow rules notice this server is required for a mission critical app and the bank cannot operate without the application running, which causes and automated escalation process.

This escalation process is driven through notifications and visual task boards in the Connected Experience.  Those applications allow participants to collaborate in the application, including adding new participants and sharing context and knowledge in a structured way.  This is very new and it speeds the process and management oversight by replacing phone calls, emails and chaos with a simple web-mobile interface.

The second thing you can do, by looking into the CMDB is identify other branch offices that are susceptible to this same failure due to similar hardware, firmware and software configurations and trigger a series of workflow tasks to preventatively maintain those servers.  That's the predictive analytics component.

OK, so that's the traditional data center view and it's pretty close to the current world.  What about something a little more in the future of IoT.  A vending machine publishes it's low inventory status, which triggers a restocking action item.  But, the workflow checks the inventory of other machines in the area and cost optimizes the other stocking actions based on a myriad of variables including the driving routes, current inventories, inventory consumption rates, cost of fuel, etc...  The restocking item is updated with the precise inventories needed at each location and a driving map of the precise route the driver should take.

Sure, you could write a custom app for both of these situations, but it's faster to build in a platform fit-for-purpose.  It's also easier for end users to consume many different business processes in a single integrated interface vs. having to use 5-10 different applications.

I see a tremendous and groundbreaking opportunity for this Connected Experience to become THE platform for building business processes on top of any IoT platform and data set.  Time will tell, but it's a compelling vision from a market leader.

No comments:

Post a Comment