Why append the adjective “smart” to a process? Interestingly in the UK “smart” would suggest a very stylish process! Whereas in the US to speak of a “smart” process is to speak of an intelligent process. Since all processes are stylish by design, we only question the secondary use of “smart”, when appended to the term process.
- Replacing humans by robots, and implementing machine learning algorithms to perform activities previously performed by humans, is not a valid enough reason for the adjective “smart”. What adjective would then be adequate for a process without assist from robots and machine learning algorithms? After all a classification scheme for processes should cover all classes.
- Perhaps it is an application of the “differentiate or die” principle from some marketing wags.
There is a more valid reason for distinguishing a process by the adjective “smart”, it has less to do to do with what it is, and everything to do with how and what it achieves for the business.
- A “smart” process is one that makes for a “smart” business. This is not a question of simply achieving some business gaol at the end of the process. It is more to do with orchestrating the business and its partners so as to benefit both parties.
- A “smart” process takes part in a three way relationship. A triumvirate which when running optimally increases business value, and hence makes for a “smart” business.
- The actions of the three parties are influenced by, and in turn influence the relationships.
* Changes in the internal structure, or business model of the business will impact its processes. Similarly external economic or regulatory changes will also force some modifications to its processes. The changes incurred by the processes will in turn alter the business practices with partners.
* New players in the market may be keen to become business partners. They may be in a better position to add value to the business, compared to existing partnerships.
* Process optimisation may also force redefining the relationship with the partners, the optimisation may also lead to structural changes within the business.
Adjectives should be used sparingly, lest their effectiveness comes up short when faced with a deserving case.
Having come this far, the real question is, how are we to make a business “smarter”. We need to make dynamic that which is static. This is achieved by a secure transparent market place, where businesses would do business via their processes. This would not require a fixed relationship with partner(s). The market place would provide any and all validation of the partner. This would make the relationship dynamic, and on a transaction by transaction basis.
An example of such a market place is the implementation of the ripple protocol for (mostly, and currently) cross-border money transfer. The ripple network provides security, transparency, reduced cost (through the removal of the middle party), and way faster turn around time. Of course, as this is money transfer it is easy to verify and validate the transaction, if instead of a service we have a product, then many more checks and balances are required. The ripple network also has issues that have to be smoothed out, legal, liquidity etc.
This is the blockchain enabled marketplace that is waiting to disrupt the process triumvirate.