The vendors that rally behind ACM are really very different in terms of how they implement it. It shows that we all agree on the existing problem with BPM for knowledge work, but we have different ideas of how to solve it. We seem to agree to enable users to adapt tasks, data and messages. I have proposed three paradigm shifts and the five elements of ACM – data, content, rules, goals, and GUI. That lack of definition of ACM is the reason that I use the term ADAPTIVE PROCESS, which is a superset of functionalities of ACM and superceedes BPM, CRM, ECM, and a few more TLA’s. ISIS does propose consolidation and not integration.
First: I am not saying that any of the other products that I am talking about are bad or do not work. But it is important that the buyer needs to be aware as to what is being sold as an ACM solution. Several vendors who have jumped onto the ACM bandwagon have either very simplistic human task routing tools or even work with email integration. Not just using email as a notification service but actually being embedded in email streams. Others support modifyable task lists, or ad-hoc task creation or selection. No one does however support the use of inbound or outbound content out of the box, with at best integration of Microsoft Office and with several just the support of Google Docs. Only a few actually support the definition of data models and backend data integration with SOA or similar. Many orthodox BPM vendors claim either that ACM is not needed or that they can support all the functionality that ACM provides. One even says: ‘How can all the people that invested in BPM be wrong?’
The other direction is the Social BPM arena. It basically uses social networking to link up process modelers, stakeholders and deveelopers to collaborate in process design. That has already been done by Lombardi with BluePrint (now IBM) and they are another type of tool which are often touted as ACM – human process management. But ACM is not about socializing about the flow model, but about creating the process DURING EXECUTION on the fly. That requires data and business rules in the form of preserved models that authorized users can modify.
So why would ACM technology be better than social E2.0? Business communication is not chit-chat, it must be about business entities. It empowers the high-level knowledge workers of a business by enabling the executive to communicate business strategy (in terms of models) to them. It aligns financial goals with process and budgetary planning. Driving processes with GOALS rather than flowcharts and mapping inbound and outbound CONTENT to them, supports the processes that generate new revenue (product and partner projects). ADAPTIVE technology with goals supports a changing business environment (i.e acquisitions) with ease. A key capability is to capture and share corporate knowledge coming from EXPERIENCE. Comprehensive communication about business entities in a secure and flexible manner allows individuals to bring their skills to bear in teams across the globe. As partners and customers can be securely participate in those processes, it improves communication and thus relationships.
Real-time process knowledge is the most powerful form of BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE. It enables actors to improve efficiency much more than historic analysis and raises the productivity of individuals and teams. But ADAPTIVE is not about anarchy or chaos as it enables tight control where needed. Compliance to privacy regulation cannot depend on after fact verification of adherence (to i.e. HIPAA). The same is true for budgetary planning that while giving more authority, must provide real-time alerts and verification of expenditures that are not aligned with spending principles. And while being not advisable as a key business driver, COST does remain a core financial aspect that must be monitored and made transparent on and across all levels.