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Sandy Kemsley

Gartner Day 2: Jim Sinur (again)

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Jim Sinur presenting at the Gartner BPM conferenceI finished up the day by attending Jim Sinur's session on continuous optimization. And thanks to Gartner, we have a brand new acronym: BOSS, for business optimization support systems.

He has an interesting take on optimization that I agree with: it's an antidote to entropy. Laws of entropy say that systems tend to become more chaotic over time, and you have to have something in place that will actively head off that slide into chaos. Continuous improvement is not, however, a replacement for disruptive or radical change within an organization: former provides some refinements along the way to a goal, while the latter causes changes in direction to a new goal.

He defined continuous optimization as "keeping a process efficient, effective and relevant under all possible and changing conditions," and laid out a list of benefits of continuous process optimization, not the least of which is creating a balance amongst competing goals: sacrificing a local optimization in favour of an overall optimization.

There was some amount of repeated material from Bill Gassman's BI/BAM presentation earlier today, but Sinur went into a number of other areas, such as understanding both drivers for process optimization and inhibitors for the adoption of optimization. It's completely necessary to link processes to desired outcomes so that the goals of optimization are well understood, and also have to anticipate the shift to indeterminate/ad hoc/collaborative processes that don't have pre-determined process maps, but are usually triggered by events and are goal-driven.

He looked at how to discover the opportunities for optimization, and selecting the proper optimization capability from a set of optimization tools and techniques. He also made some good points about matching your optimization method and your risk profile, which I've heard in earlier presentations this week: if you're very risk-averse, for example, you're unlikely to have self-optimizing systems that change their own behaviour based on patterns of events in the system.

This is a growth area, and one that can be providing some competitive advantage: only the leader organizations are using this technology now, and it has the potential to make a huge impact on a company's agility.

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