Posted by: Derek Weeks on: February 8, 2011
Enterprise modeling, enterprise architecture, and process analysis are often seen as “expert” activities, limited to a select set of individuals within an organization. The output and deliverables may be widely consumed, in many formats, but on a daily basis the tools and methodologies used to create enterprise models – and often even detailed process models – are employed by trained experts.
With emerging Cloud technologies and some creative thinking on the part of organizational leaders, this paradigm could shift – and organizations could suddenly discover that the people who understand the day-to-day workings of the business are now able to contribute their knowledge and insights into everything from strategy to process improvement.
More than the technology – the Cloud brings a real opportunity to broaden the reach of process participants and consumers of business models. Successful cloud and SaaS-based applications bring more than a new delivery method. They also bring self provisioning and management, online guidance, simplified user interfaces, and integration with other cloud-based tools like social computing. All of this adds up to the potential to harness the power of the collective knowledge of the organization in ways not possible or practical in the past.
Take business modeling as an example. Within our customer base, we have found that our Cloud modeling tool (Metastorm M3) is enabling business people who have not been engaged in enterprise modeling in the past to create, reference, maintain, and share all kinds of models – strategy, rule, organization, process, etc. – with no technology installation and virtually no training. We are seeing spontaneously formed crowds of business people capturing models, sharing them with their colleagues, and then using the resulting models to communicate issues, changes, and recommendations to management, business architects, and even IT.
The key to uptake and broad appeal is leveraging the patterns of Cloud services and providing sufficient breadth in the types of models people can capture, while simplifying the approach. Each day, people capture high level activity and process models – and even more create organization charts, location maps, and goal hierarchies.
Crowd-based modeling in the Cloud is becoming a powerful discovery tool and can be an important way for business and enterprise architects to leverage the tacit knowledge spread throughout an organization – and more importantly for senior executives to get more insights into the realities of what is going on in the business. Since any credible cloud-based modeling tool will also support bi-directional integration with full-scale enterprise architecture and BPM tools, business architects and enterprise planners can seed a baseline of work by providing customized guidance, template models, and pre-configured building blocks for crowds to use. Organization structures, corporate goals, and measurements are all good examples of crowd-enabling building blocks.
Just as models build relationships between the different moving pieces in our organizations, the patterns and technologies of social computing build relationships among our crowd modelers.
Social computing was one of the first capabilities and services offered by the Cloud and embodies all the traits of cloud computing. Collaboration is one of the best examples of how social networking can be applied in a business situation, and it is a key component in any valid cloud-based modeling platform –allowing real-time, multi-user modeling sessions with requirements capture and in-context discussion, collaboration turns modeling into a multi-way knowledge sharing session amongst the crowd. Subject matter experts on the business side learn more about the art of capturing their world in models, and business architects and analysts learn more about the how the organization is shaped and operating.
While collaboration breathes new energy into modeling sessions, the tie to BPM tools gives us the power to bring our models to life. Combine BPM execution with cloud-based modeling and visibility and you have a closed loop feedback mechanism that gives people at all levels of an organization access to processes and process information, complete execution, and the real-time feedback on business operations that comes with it.
We have customers who create hundreds of models every day and provide view-only access to these models to thousands of people. Many of these models become executable applications, either through BPM or custom development. With the Cloud, more people can now leverage the context-rich information that is being captured by the BPM system and fed back to the goals, strategies and assumptions that drive process design. With the instant access that cloud modeling and collaboration provides, the degree of participation and decision-making is suddenly advanced from view-only to a rich, real-time operational tool that delivers greater insight, control and agility.
The power of crowds in the Cloud has the potential to transform the ways organizations operate and finally deliver on the promise of continuous improvement. Learn more about Metastorm M3 and Metastorm Enterprise applications at www.metastorm.com.
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