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Will all business processes be in the cloud at some point?

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In terms of BPM, wll all business processes be in the cloud at some point?

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  • What's going to happen is the same as IT Outsourcing.

    There will be a general rush to adopt cloud-based processes as a natural extension and adoption of cloud BPM, primarily because of the 'perceived' cost benefit, speed and service.

    Then problems will occur; security issues, latency, data protection, retention and regulatory impacts and compliance changes, customer backlash. The costs for maintaining a cloud based process chain will spiral and commoditised processes will no longer be in fashion.

    There will be a clamour to bring it all back in house and the CTO will breathe a sigh of relief as they feel back in control again.

    Then hit restart in 5 years and watch it unfold again....

  • End-to-end business processes are perhaps the hardest thing to move to the cloud, considering the needs for lots of systems integration. But I don't see a complete reversal and desire to bring things all in-house again. Maybe ebbs and tides, but not a reversal.

    I see plenty of companies already outsourcing data centers. To do that, they need to solve issues of vendor reliance and trust, security, performance, etc. And there is already lots of integration with external parties that were never in-house in the first place. This is a foundation for the move to more cloud-like environments.

    Done at the right pace and in the right way, there is no need for business operations or customers to be negatively affected by cloud deployment. Whereas with outsourcing, business-IT alignment and overall IT delivery have generally undergone a big shift, often for the worse. So I guess I am a bit more optimistic!

  • To the extent the Cloud just means distributed computing across virtualized data centers - most certainly!

    As I coincidentally tweeted this morning - process, socialbiz, analytics are all just forms of integration - real-time adaptive work integration.

    The world is spinning apart, integration is what brings it together. We can't stop the former, we need to evolve the latter.

    We already address all of the legitimate concerns that Theo raised and provide a 'single-window' that mashes up process on the glass. This is the sangraal - the fusion of OLAP and OLTP - connected, informed processes.

  • ofcourse not.

    Processes are not only something technical you can drop in a cloud. It's the applications, data etc that might run in a cloud, but they are just a few enablers of executing a proces.

    But if you think a process is something automatically (some processes are), then you might think it can be transferred to the cloud.

    But what if people are involved (still very important in many processes)? What if machines are needed? Will you buy a plane to bring it to the cloud?

    Applications, dashboards etc might run in a cloud (actually, who cares?), but a process is so much more. And that is uncloudable.

  • Hmm, Theo, Tim, Dave, and Emiel raise valid points. Some organizations will rush head long into deploying to the cloud only to realize later that their actions were hasty. End to end processes that require human intervention are not well suited to cloud deployment. However, we are in the infancy, from an applications perspective, of this movement. Likely as the body of experience grows, all of us - business users, IT, process practitioners - will become more savvy about what is truly effective and what is not.

    Although I don't see effective process deployments to the cloud currently, like Tim, I am optimistic that the situation can change.

  • I think at some point-- yes. Soon, not likely. I still predict the end game is for companies to move EVERYTHING to the off-premise Cloud. Then, all processes will be in the off-premise Cloud as well. If all your applications, assets, etc are in the Cloud, your processes will be too.

    Hey, I'm sure we could also argue that the processes are already in the on-premise (Private) Cloud right? As long as they mee the NIST criteria? Slap those puppies on VmWare and let's all claim BPM in the Private Cloud!

  • Eventually "cloud" is transparent and most of the IT apps are "in the cloud"... when it is truly ubiquitous we won't even care where the software is running, we'll just want a URL and login so that we can interoperate with it. BPM may be one of the last categories to fully move over because so many of its dependencies on other systems are inside the firewall, and it is easier to reach outside to the cloud than to reach inside into the firewall.

    And as Theo says, we'll likely see the cycle play out all over again.

  • Maybe I am too much a business guy, but why do many people say "BPM" when they mean "BPMS" ? A BPMS might run in a cloud, but BPM happens in an organisation.

    It's like saying "We do Lean in the Cloud". Never heard anyone saying that...

  • Hmmm. Will the processes be in the cloud? No, never. But the systems to automate those processes? Very possibly-slash-likely, though "all" is a bit of a reach. But as has been noted well by the others, BPM will be subject to the same sorts of decisions and influences as other forms of IT being considered for outsourcing in part or in total. Ain't nothing magic about that!

  • Yes, Yes, and Yes.

    First, the infrastructure used to support the BPM technologies will be based in the cloud. Even if the underlying infrastructure starts as a hybrid model of cloud/on-premise, the direction will inevitably lead to pure cloud environments.

    Second, the process itself will incorporate some element of data, information, or content that is only available in the cloud. From a data, content, and information perspective, the cloud is inescapable.

    Third, those who have bet against technology evolutions in the past have so often placed the wrong bet, that it is much safer to be on the "cloud" side of the odds in 2012.

  • Wow Theo, thats a little harsh....And i have to say i disagree with pretty much everything you have said there...Most of the things you mention are not actual problems with many of the cloud implementations out there, I would also like to add that each cloud implementation is different, there is no one "cloud" and I dont think there ever will be. Thats because we have IaaS (cloud concept) and PaaS (cloud concept). And these provide the "cloud" in two very different ways....

    I also want to add, why does everything have to be all or nothing when new concepts come along. Lets be realistic and put a sensible hat on.

    The answer to the question is NO, not all processes will be in the cloud, just like not all systems, solutions, services will be in the cloud. The cloud is an EXTENSION of IT capabilities and flexibility, it doesnt mean everything suits it perfectly, but it also doesnt mean nothing should be moved to it. Each organisation has to look at which solutions, services, and processes they want to move to the cloud, and they have to look at what that realistically means, what impacts that may have both positive and negative...

    I would say that most things are possible in the cloud, however its our use of the cloud which has to be correct. When we start talking of the cloud, most of us think of running software in our browsers, well if that is how we see cloud software being distributed then we wont be moving much to the cloud at all. If we leverage real "apps" that have services hosted in the cloud, you soon then see how we can have fully interopable solutions, highly scalable solutions, multiple connected devices, understanding of state across devices etc etc and then the cloud makes a lot of sense for a lot of business tasks....BUT not all.....Thats the point...

  • It's been quite a few months passing from the last discussion comment, though most of processes are still on the ground yet, it doesn't mean they won't move up to the cloud in the future, as social collaboration, or outside-in architecture intend to invite customers and partners into conversation, to co-develop next generation of products or services, crowd-sourcing, multi-channel sales/purchasing/marketing--such emerging trends also refine traditional processes, the processes' cloud ladder may not as steep as some thought about, though cloud process governance is the other discussion topic.

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