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BPM software - making specialized equipment social

Malcolm Ross, Senior Vice President, Product Strategy, Appian
November 8, 2012

For many people, the idea of becoming a social enterprise centers around changing the culture of a business to support seamless collaboration and communication. While this goal certainly has an important place in the enterprise, there is another level of social integration that goes well beyond interpersonal communication - making IT and other technological equipment social.

Turning inanimate objects into social contributors

In industries like manufacturing, oil and gas, mining and even utility distribution, a significant number of tasks are automated. This generally means that sensors are strategically placed throughout equipment, machine-to-machine communication is enabled, software tells robots what to do and process automation allows the software to respond to different conditions reported by monitoring equipment.

This way of getting the job done has proved revolutionary in a variety of sectors, as it allows more human resources to be put into high-thinking jobs, where innovation can be fueled and operations improved through better management. But there are still many instances in which managers have to step in and manually configure software or equipment to deal with environmental or operational changes.

In some cases, this interaction is vital. The goal of machine-to-machine communication and automation is not to remove the human factor, but allow people to spend more time on the most important parts of the process. However, sometimes people have to get involved in operations because data does not flow properly between some sensors and certain machines. As a result, tedious process decisions that could easily be handled by software are made by a person because the data integration is not complete. This is especially true as more organizations depend on cloud and mobile functions. Business process management software can overcome these problems by extending process automation throughout a company's core IT and general technological infrastructure, allowing specialized equipment and IT systems to communicate with each other in a more social way.

Getting the most out of social equipment

The first facet of social communication in machine-to-machine or IT settings is focused on getting these systems to handle basic tasks on their own. While this is vital, there is another layer of this social integration that could be even more important - the human factor. With true social integration, machines and technical equipment can also notify employees when problems arise. This accelerates maintenance processes and allows organizations to get the most out of their technology investments by enabling personnel to respond more intelligently.

Malcolm Ross

Vice President of Product Marketing