• The MicroGuide to Process and Decision Modeling in BPMN/DMN: Building More Effective Processes by Integrating Process Modeling with Decision Modeling
    The MicroGuide to Process and Decision Modeling in BPMN/DMN: Building More Effective Processes by Integrating Process Modeling with Decision Modeling

Entries in BMM (3)


Use Cases for the Internet of Things

A use case is a description of steps or actions between users, (participants, products) and core software systems which leads the user towards something useful.  In our practice of business process modeling, particularly at Bosch, I have been encountering many ‘Internet of things’ use cases. These ‘things’ or products are process participants, as opposed to simple data feeds or event sources. They are responsible for activities. They send and respond to signals.

Use Cases for the Internet of Things

In the new world of process modeling for the “things world”, product features respond (process) to their environment (events) according to the needs and desires of their owners (decisions and rules). In addition, process activities are continuously updated and communicate in a globally connected environment. This is the nature of the internet of things or the ‘things world’. Some, aspects of the process, events and decisions will be controlled by the end-user. Other aspects are controlled by the things, outside agents, products or by others, such as weather or an electrical utility (smart grids).
The goal of BPMN and other visual environments, such as Visual Rules is to empower the stake-holders, such as product experts, to control their area of concern, without writing computer code. End-users can configure the actions in the use case, according to their needs.  This is referred to as the ‘user creating the application’. In the ‘things world’, a wide range of products that will interact in unanticipated ways. Cameras, household appliances, security sensors and many other things will interact. The end user will probably not use BPMN for this; however, they will want to change the sequence of tasks and the nature of responses to events.

BPMN in the Things World

The visual approach, including BPMN, is a common way to model process and rules, and now even events.  What can be difficult to relate is how to build a use case that matches ‘things’ requirements with a list of objectives for events, processes and decisions. What is needed is a context for arranging the vision into a form that can be incorporated into products.
The outcome should be to define services that support product features, events and decisions that carry out the use case objectives. This is the beginning of an iterative process, a starting point for building a core set of services that support a more integrated portfolio of capabilities.
There are many native benefits to the combined Process/Event/Rules approach that enhance competitiveness. The result should be a portfolio of agile products and process features that increase agile responses to customer requirements, economic or competitive challenges. Over time companies, by adopting the strategy, will build an agile core for managing a collection of common events/process/decisions and information structures that support the objectives of the business. This is the clearest path to the ‘internet’ of things.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the ‘things world’ is not just sensors, appliances and cameras connected to the internet. This connectivity will spawn new business models and new opportunities.  To wit, there are underpinnings, including vocabulary, product/services, organizations, and personnel and training data structures that are critical to every process, and therefore every ‘internet of things’ initiative.

Tom Debevoise


Business Events in the Context of OMG’s BMM

As I mentioned in a prior post, a Business Event is an event that is meaningful for conducting commercial, industrial, and governmental or trade activities. Business events are a recent 'buzz' or focus in the BPM world. With respect to event process modeling, I believe there are two categories of events:
  • External Business Events:  EBE's, in combination with business rules, provide channels for messages in BPMN business process. For example, a purchase order has been issued through an X11 file, critical equipment has been recalled by the manufacturer, and sensor data has reached a limit.  

  • Internal Business Events: IBE's can arise, from the IT infrastructure and a business process is particularly adept at handling these.

IBE's and EBE's form the global cloud of events .

IBE's and EBE's can be seen indirectly in the OMG's Business Motivation Model. The OMG's BMM is an essential link between business planning and modeling and business processes management. It utilizes a set of integrated concepts to define the elements of a business plan. These elements support a variety of approaches for creating and maintaining a business motivation model for the enterprise. As seen in the figure below, a business motivation model is parameterized in terms of means, ends, influencers, and assessments. It includes reference elements and business vocabulary. BMM is particularly strong where business change drives supporting processes.
Business Movivation Model
Business Motivation Model
As its name suggests, motivation is key to the business motivation model and is deeply tied to the mission of the organization. With the BMM you can chart connections between vision and goals and objectives, and link mission into strategy for approaching these goals and tactics for achieving the objectives.

IBE's and EBE's arise from the influencers portion of the model. Internal influencers can assessed to be strength or weaknesses and an internal event, such as reaching or missing a key performance indicator, can be one of these. External influences (which are counted as opportunities or threats) are analyzed as parts of the business plan. Obviously, the external events we mentioned above might be an influencer.

Version 1.0 of PRR Released

OMG has a number of standards related to Business Rules including the very complex, Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Rules (SBVR) and the Business Motivation Model (BMM). The one that will impact business rules vendors such as Innovations most directly is the Production Rule Representation. It stands at version 1.0 with version 1.1 coming out shortly. It can therefore be used for interchange of business rules amongst rule modeling tools (and other tools that support rule modeling as a function of some other task).

Paul Vincent is leading a committee that is developing a graphical notation for this standard. He discusses this in this recent post here .