Phil Wainewright writes:
What if a business wants to innovate its own business processes perhaps to achieve competitive advantage, for example. If you’re a big customer of a responsive software vendor, they’ll develop that new process for you and deliver it within around nine months. Then they’ll deliver it to all your competitors in their next upgrade cycle. That’s their business model: big companies establish best practices, and software vendors automate them for everyone in the industry. They’re quite overt about it. In fact, it’s supposed to be one of the advantages of packaged software. It’s how they add value to your business.
There is a different approach emerging, one that puts process owners in charge, and forces software vendors to take a back seat.
The underpinning is a service-oriented architecture that provides loosely-coupled access to data sources and application functions. Above that infrastructure sits a new service assembly layer that allows process owners to mix and match the information and automation they need to react to changing business requirements.
This service assembly layer is more than simply orchestration or choreography. As Adam Bosworth recently observed, “In a site filled with pages (or pages filled with rich UI interactive gestures) the user is in charge, not the controller. There is no directed flow. Occasionally we build directed flows and call them wizards, but in general sites are not written to move from task to task in some ponderous choreography.”
Service assembly is an emerging new category that allows business users to build and modify their own applications on the fly, and then operate them according to the demands of their external environment, no longer constrained by the limitations of inflexible prepackaged system development.
This is what we are trying to do with our Visual Biz-ic software. But I expect that our usage will be different: SMEs will put together the libraries of the processes they use and share them with others (in the process, also learning best practices from the community). Open-source,a applied to business process design focused on the bottom of the enterprise pyramid.