The Role of Business Process Management (BPM) within the Internet of Things (IoT)

Any form of business process needs to be future proof and adaptable when it comes to technological advances. One of the biggest changes in the business and consumer market that are taking place at the moment is the increasing use of the Internet of Things, and there’s no doubt that as the technology becomes more and more integrated into our lives, business processes will have to continue to adapt as will the way they are managed.

Business process management (BPM) certainly has a big role to play in the way the Internet of Things (IoT) operates, whether for business clients or everyday consumers, and this blog post will aim to explore what form that will take, but firstly, let’s make sure we understand the two main terms being used here.

What Is Business Process Management?

Business process management is the way that companies analyze the processes that have been designed and introduced to help them operate. Often these processes can become bogged down in minutiae and end up being less efficient than they should be, so BPM is there to evaluate what improvements are needed and to then implement them in a way that minimizes disruption. This should lead to better efficiency, improved staff morale and an upturn in profits.

What Is The Internet of Things?

Internet of things photo

The Internet of Things sounds like a straightforward enough description of what it is – simply the interconnectivity of smart devices, of which is it predicted there will be almost 50 billion by 2020. The most common example given for this is a smart fridge that can inform its owner when they are running out of milk while they’re out shopping, but it encompasses far more than just helpful household appliances, enabling more complex systems like smart cities and virtual power plants.

The term was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, who described IoT as: “If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss, and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best.”

The Internet of Things is already appearing more commonly in our homes in the form of smart heating systems, smart meters for electricity and entertainment devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Fitness devices like Fitbits also bring the IoT to our wrists to allow us to track our exercise routines, while smart cars are becoming more common, even if self-driving cars remain a long way off.

The Internet Of Things And Business Process Management

The IoT is changing the way we live our lives and that is something that will only grow and grow, and it’s certainly something that all businesses need to adapt to. There are some obvious benefits and some aspects that will require adjustments to processes. Here are some of the main changes and challenges facing companies as the IoT becomes more ever-present:

  • Data: As consumers use more and more devices that record data, there are opportunities for businesses to use this data for marketing and product development purposes, but only if the processes are in place to measure, analyze and report on this data. Business process management can automate this process and ensure that it remains effective and agile enough to keep pace with technological changes.
  • New ways of buying: The IoT gives consumers the chance to buy directly from their devices, whether it’s an Amazon Echo or a smartphone or even that legendary refrigerator ordering fresh milk. Technology is making everything faster and more easily, so they will also be expecting faster deliveries and better service. BPM needs to be used to manage the processes that will allow this kind of development to meet the demand. IoT software and tools can help with this though, with inventories able to be tracked automatically.
  • Innovation: Whether it’s new product development or upgrading existing products or services, the IoT offers the opportunities for businesses to deliver exciting new benefits for their customers.
  • Customer service: Another area where processes need to be managed carefully because of the changes that the IoT have brought in is customer service. Products that utilize the internet should really be able to be fixed over the internet when something goes wrong. Consumers expect it and businesses should be able to deliver it, so BPM is needed to ensure that customer service processes are effective, efficient and resilient enough to cope.
  • Centralized BPM: Business process management isn’t simply something that is needed to make the IoT run more smoothly, the benefits can flow back in the opposite direction too. Integrating BPM software into devices means that the data can be analyzed from a central location and any changes can be fed back out again.

Integrating Business Process Management With The Internet of Things

These are some of the benefits and implications of BPM and the Internet of Things. Smart devices are taking over our homes and workplaces, but they will only be as successful as the processes that help to manage them and their applications. Competition is fierce, whether it’s between the Amazon Echo and Google Home or other rival products that aim to corner the market, while the Internet of Things in a business sense either touches or will touch almost all companies in years to come.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report, Sensing the Future of the Internet of Things predicted that: “IoT is transforming the everyday physical objects that surround us into an ecosystem of information that will enrich our lives. From refrigerators to parking spaces to houses, the IoT is bringing more and more things into the digital fold every day, which will likely make the IoT a multi-trillion dollar industry in the near future.”

The businesses that will thrive in the future are those that are prepared for the changes to come and that is where business process management will always give some an advantage. Jared Cooper in Fast Company summed up the perils facing those who don’t get their processes in line in time: “Smart homes and other connected products won’t just be aimed at home life. They’ll also have a major impact on business. And just like any company that blissfully ignored the Internet at the turn of the century, the ones that dismiss the Internet of Things risk getting left behind.”

If you don’t want your business to be left behind by the Internet of Things, you may need some help with business process management, and that’s where Tallyfy comes in. We can help you get your processes ready for the technological challenges that are coming with a free demonstration of our BPM software. All you need to do is get in touch and be ready to see your business running like clockwork.

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About the author - Amit Kothari

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