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BPM’s Underpinning: The Pi Paradigm

From: Carol McDonald <carol.mcdonald@sun.com>
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 09:40:18 -0400
Message-ID: <3EDCA542.8080207@sun.com>
CC: wsbpel-participants@sun.com, public-ws-chor@w3.org
sorry subject was wrong before

Carol McDonald wrote:

> BPM’s Underpinning: The Pi Paradigm 
> <http://eai.ebizq.net/bpm/smithfingar_3a.html%20>
> BPM is rapidly proving popular, since it gives businesspeople control 
> over the processes that make their companies tick. And it doesn’t hurt 
> a bit that BPM is a winner in the ROI arena, according to BPM experts 
> and champions Howard Smith and Peter Fingar. At the very heart of BPM 
> is “an obscure mathematical theory” called Pi Calculus, literally an 
> award-winner. Here, Smith and Fingar explain what Pi Calculus is, and 
> how it forms the foundation for the hot phenomenon known as BPM:
>     http://eai.ebizq.net/shared/goldclub.jsp?smithfingar_3b.html
>     BPM’s Underpinning: The Pi Paradigm
>         By Howard Smith and Peter Fingar
> The recent wrangles over standards for forthcoming Business Process 
> Management Systems (BPMS) [see “IBM and Microsoft Messing with Process 
> Standards <http://eai.ebizq.net/bpm/smithfingar_3.html>”] give us 
> reason to believe something important is at stake. While most 
> businesspeople currently understand “BPM” as the evolution of workflow 
> systems or application integration solutions, BPM is in fact a brand 
> new technology.
> All technologies have a conceptual center, a “first class citizen” 
> from which all else is constructed. BPM is no different (See Table 1).
> Perl String, Function
> EDI Business element, document
> XML Tag, Markup
> Cobol Report
> APL Equation
> ASN.1 Field
> C Function, Pointer
> RDBMS Tuple
> Java Object, Component
> Workflow Task, Resource
> EAI API, Message
> BPM Process
> Table 1 – First Class Citizens In Computing
> The choice of a technology’s first class citizen governs its 
> suitability for solving problems. The conceptual center of BPM is the 
> business process. Processes are not composed of other technologies’ 
> first class citizens; they are composed of elemental process patterns 
> of communication.
> Remember when you were first introduced to “objects” and wondered what 
> they were? BPM requires a similar shift in thinking. Unlike objects, 
> which are abstract and alien to most business people, processes are 
> closely aligned with the way companies think, act, develop strategy 
> and mobilize resources. That’s why there has recently been an intense 
> focus within the IT industry on process modeling languages, such as 
> BPML, BPEL, XPDL and BPSS. It also accounts for the high ROI 
> associated with workflow projects, the precursor to BPM, and the 
> frequently low ROI (or complete failure) of application development 
> projects.
> The history of IT is dominated by experiments that have attempted to 
> get closer to the way businesses really work. Although most products 
> will use the same boxes and arrows to depict some form of process, 
> procedure or protocol, the comparison stops there. BPM is not 
> workflow, nor EAI. BPM is a new paradigm, calling for new standards, 
> technologies and products, which altogether will deliver unprecedented 
> return on investment to small and large organizations. It was for this 
> reason that the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI.org) was 
> formed.
> Proof that a significant shift is happening in the enterprise software 
> industry can usually be found when the largest and most established 
> players start paying attention to it. This is precisely what happened 
> when IBM and Microsoft merged two previous languages, XLANG and WSFL, 
> and jointly released the Business Process Execution Language for Web 
> services (BPEL4WS). Other than a desire to control and lead, why would 
> they do this, since BPMI.org had previously published a similar 
> language, Business Process Modelling Language (BPML) upon which its 
> many members had already voted?
> The answer lies in an obscure mathematical theory, Pi Calculus 
> <http://www.bpm3.com/picalculus/index.html>. Invented by Robin Milner, 
> professor of computer science at Cambridge University, and a winner of 
> the ACM Turing Award -- the Nobel Prize of computer science -- Pi 
> Calculus has been the focal point of a decade-long effort to unify 
> what were previously thought to be two different entities: computation 
> and communication. This insight lies at the heart of how to represent 
> all processes so that they can be manipulated as easily as we do 
> relational data today.
> Pi Calculus gives BPM, and BPML, its conceptual center, an abstract 
> data type able to represent business processes. Hence, vendors can 
> develop BPMS so IT can provide “BPM as a service” to the business, 
> just like e-mail or database management.
> To business people, it seems that technology is always getting more 
> complex. Technical people feel the same way. 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 incumbent 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. As Walt Disney once said, objecting to a proposed sequel 
> to his Three Little Pigs cartoon, “You can’t top pigs with pigs.” In 
> the world of business, stacking a thousand doghouses one atop the 
> other to build a skyscraper is a great proposition for doghouse 
> vendors, but not for future occupants. Skyscrapers need an 
> architecture of their own—their own paradigm, not a sequel to the 
> doghouse paradigm. Business processes, too, need a paradigm of their 
> own, not sequels to pre-existing technologies. What’s needed is a 
> radical simplification that will allow business people to cope with 
> the dynamics and complexities of real-world business processes.
> The spreadsheet is a simple yet eloquent example of a useful paradigm 
> shift. The convenience and low cost of the breakthrough was so 
> striking that it led to the PC revolution in business. To the 
> enterprise, the PC loaded with a spreadsheet meant a radical 
> simplification of routine calculations, transferring to the everyday 
> business person a function that had once required special programming 
> skills.
> A similar simplification and transfer of functions is needed by those 
> pursuing business process development and optimization, for as the 
> management prophets foretell, the next phase of corporate development 
> will require systematic control of the value chain, rather than 
> narrow-gauge process fixes. Reengineering prophet Michael Hammer has 
> admitted that managing such wholesale change is mind-numbingly 
> complex. In fact, it is no longer possible without computer assistance.
> The spreadsheet could not have been successful had it not been for the 
> fact thatpersonal computers—a standards-based commodity—were spreading 
> like wildfire elsewhere in society. With the widespread adoption of 
> application servers, component-based development and Web services, the 
> field is ripe for the wildfire spread of process management.
> Judging by the early success of BPM vendors, companies are already 
> embracing process management in the way they adopted data management 
> decades ago by separating out data for application-independent 
> management, analysis and controlled sharing. At that time, companies 
> knew they had a data problem, and they responded by recognizing the 
> value of relational data management systems.
> We believe that companies are now recognizing they have an analogous 
> process problem. Companies are seeking both hyper-efficiency and 
> competitive differentiation. Packaged software is no longer providing 
> an answer. Companies are beginning to realize that what they need is 
> not a suite of new applications, but the application of process 
> management.
> The balance of power in the business-IT relationship must therefore 
> shift, away from the need to squeeze business processes into the 
> pre-packaged fashions of the IT industry, and toward the ability to 
> design, improve and transform the business processes that BPM enables. 
> This must be achieved otherwise Nicholas Carr’s recent pronouncement 
> in Harvard Business Review that “IT Doesn’t Matter” (May 2003 HBR) 
> will come true! But BPM does much more than facilitate process design. 
> It provides a direct path from vision to execution. It’s not so much a 
> matter of “rapid application development” as “remove application 
> development” from the business cycle.
> Show the BPM capability to any executive at any level and they will 
> understand inside of five minutes how to break through the IT logjam. 
> Some IT execs may still want to prevent business people from defining 
> business processes themselves, saying it is too complex a job and 
> should be left to specialists. That may be true right now, but it 
> won’t be by the week after next. Sometimes it’s hard to see the 
> obvious. Companies have no trouble understanding how IT can provide an 
> e-mail service, yet display no need for IT to mediate the e-mail 
> conversations themselves.
> Initial ROI figures are impressive, and investment in BPM is 
> justifying itself in the very first projects, and for the very first 
> processes. Early results reveal one or two orders of magnitude of 
> projected reductions in total cost of process ownership and process 
> design to production time.
> The significance of these results has been confirmed recently by 
> aggressive moves by the 900-pound gorillas in the IT industry. These 
> industry giants have taken unprecedented steps to create new BPM 
> standards, and create their own standardization paths, presumably to 
> exert control over the release of the BPM breakthrough into the 
> corporate environment. OASIS is now the host for the standardization 
> path of BPEL4WS.
> However the cat, and the math, are truly out of the bag. You can’t 
> buck math when it comes to taming the business process, meaning all 
> standards paths must ultimately lead to process calculus if they are 
> to provide the solid foundation that’s essential to BPM.
> Yet it won’t be standards that drive BPM adoption. The true drivers 
> are economic. Businesses recognize that BPM is a powerful new 
> capability to manage their business processes, needed to cope with 
> uncertain and rapidly changing economic times. If IT companies are to 
> thaw the current “IT Ice Age,” they’d better meet their customers’ 
> pressing needs with BPM systems built on standards that embody a true 
> business process foundation.
> About the Author
> Howard Smith is chief technology officer (Europe) of Computer Sciences 
> Corporation and co-chair of the Business Process Management Initiative 
> (BPMI.org). Peter Fingar is one of the industry’s recognized experts 
> on BPM and author of The Death of “e” and the Birth of the Real New 
> Economy (www.mkpress.com <http://www.mkpress.com>).
> This column is dedicated to those at work every day building the 
> company of the future, the process-managed enterprise. We look forward 
> to your feedback, questions, suggestions and comments that will shape 
> this discussion of the Third Wave. Like the third wave of BPM itself, 
> this column will be built not just to last, but also to adapt to your 
> needs and interests. Write to us at authors@bpm3.com 
> <mailto:authors@bpm3.com>.
> Smith and Fingar are the co-authors of Business Process Management-The 
> Third Wave <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0929652339/pfingarA/>
> <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0929652339/pfingarA/>
> Preview the book at www.bpm3.com <http://www.bpm3.com>
Received on Tuesday, 3 June 2003 09:37:50 UTC

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