I recently wrote about the future of process, and likened it to the undertaking to build the first transcontinental railroad in the 19th century. The analogy is an interesting one in the context of our times; it’s true – that we, our friends, our businesses, our colleagues, our interests, all want to be bound closer. Instead of tying the continental spread of the Eastern and Western US together, the race to find the best route to tie our 21st century interests together is about speed, accuracy, depth of information and access to the right information. It is these last two elements that I find so fascinating about the possibilities laid before us right now.
Here’s another way to look at this: Any business process is a delivery vehicle for information. It can take different routes on the journey. For very complex processes, with a multitude of flows/handoffs/points of interface, there are likely to be many stations, stops, and “contours” that necessarily slow the path of process-derived information getting to the right place at the right time. If you take the train analogy: processes are like standard gauge rails that help guide information. Or, using a different transportation analogy: processes can be likened to a missile or rocket – riding a known trajectory to deliver their payload of information from point A to point B (or a big bang, or a landing on the moon… you get the idea).
Many examples today derive from “consumer-like” models in industries such as retail (smart retail experiences, like the Apple Store), or media examples (like Netflix, Pandora), etc. But what about when process “code-meets-code” in the business processes in sectors like CPG – as it struggles to understand if retailers are in fact, friend or foe? Wal-mart and Procter & Gamble may have “grown up together”, but the pressure of direct-to-consumer business model (and-process level) disruption from the likes of Amazon (forget trains… drone delivery, anyone?) looms large. Wholesale distribution is in similar straits – the potential to control the intersection of supply and demand with Code Halos applied to processes and platforms is immense.
Take health-care: The interlock between medical providers, payers, and pharmaceutical companies also is also rapidly coming into focus as well. Claims processing is a particularly apt function in the intersection of these three: A claim… is a claim… is a claim…until it’s wrapped with a code halo of data and meta-data about the patient, their level of care, the use of semantic data to understand and give meaning to the level of care, or differentiation in “magnitude” of procedures they’re undergoing (i.e., a $50 co-pay for a doctor’s visit, or a $1 million heart transplant?). The qualitative and quantitative benefits start to accrue: Digitization of inputs and metadata (using Code Halos when possible), speed to process, improved accuracy and consistency, compliance and audit risk reduction, reducing or eliminating process chokepoints, customer preferences, better understanding of whether processes can be onshore, etc….
The list goes on, and the possibilities expand, especially across siloed industry and process information chains. Processes begin to rapidly change and reform as “information routes” interconnect, and new service designs becomes possible. In the healthcare example, in addition to better patient care, consider how the speed to new and more powerful drugs may be improved for the pharmaceutical industry. Process digitization, automation and Code Halos can drive down costs, but also put powerful data sets in the hand of doctors and nurses, improve the results of clinical trials, and suggest an actionable basket of steps that can be taken (e.g., avoiding the wrong pill combinations) when prescribing medicines to patients. Automation moves open process loops to closed loops as fast as possible, to increase accuracy of clinical trial yield, to move to FDA approval of new and powerful drugs - faster.
Today, I believe we’re witnessing an inflection point in technology, automation, digitization, interconnectedness, user experience, and approaches process that we haven’t seen happen in the last 20 years (really, since the advent of global delivery/”offshore” sourcing). These possibilities makes simplification to accelerate the process journey tangible, today. And the future possibities of process are going to be amazing, especially when Code Halos thinking is applied. Code Halos – and the ever-evolving sets of information contained within them - become powerful accelerants, which both impel and inform the journey of process delivery vehicles. They may change the route, they may straighten contours, they may multiple and give meaning to signals and information coming from the process. To be continued…