The ISIS Papyrus ACM Vision Statement

The subject of an enhanced form of case management is gaining momentum. So the effort of Keith Swenson and all contributors put into our book ‘Mastering the Unpredictable’ about Adaptive Case Management seems to be paying off.

Forrester Research has produced: ‘Dynamic Case Management- An old-idea catches fire.’ He does teleconferences with AIIM on ‘Support Your Information Workers by Understanding and Implementing Case Management’ or Forresters own TCs as well. Forrester lists ActionBase, Appian, Cordys, EMC, Global 360, IBM, Pallas Athena, Pegasystems, Singularity and … whoa … even CRM maven Sword Ciboodle as their entrants for the next DCM Wave. The likes of Fujitsu, HandySoft, Ideate, OpenText, and Oracle (!!!) will only make it into the ‘Ripple’. Us and Whitestein Technologies are also listed in that second group, but we are the only ones who actually provide GOAL-oriented processes! There are vendors with products that have to be integrated, others who are simple application tools, email-collaborators, but hardly anyone who does embedded content. But then OpenText is jumping now on the ACM bandwagon and promotes ECM as case management. Virtually every BPM vendor now wants a piece of this DCM market especially as the frustration about hyped-up benefits claims of BPM sets in. Read about Dr. Rashid Khan’s assessment of BPM Simulation and Optimization that is a perfect add-on to my own perspective on the problems with flowcharts.

Gartner Group has another, long-term view to offer that includes Social Media and how work will change in the next ten years. I covered it in this post about ‘The De-routinization of Work.’ Makes you wonder why anyone still bothers with BPM in the first place.

So BPM claims to be agile and now case management claims to be dynamic, goal-oriented, adaptive and more! How can a normal IT person figure out what to do? The best way is to actually do a proof of concept installation. The focus must be on how flexible a system is in terms of integration into your environment and how the business users can work with the solution to create proceses and case work with all resources (data, content, rules, tasks, GUI) themselves! That is the whole trick!

I need to point out that what Forrester defines as DYNAMIC case management is by far not yet ADAPTIVE. Forrester  defines dynamic case management to be semi-structured and collaborative, dynamic, human-centered, information-intensive processes undertaken around a given context, while being driven by events, requiring incremental and progressive responses. So what is different about ADAPTIVE Case Management? The key point is not just runtime dynamic changes, but Just-In-Time creation of the process and resources WITH embedded learning, which means that knowledge of a previous case can be autmatically used by people in a later case or process! As a further point Forrester does not use the term knowledge worker but rather (information-) I-worker, which is anyone who uses a computer at his job. I see ACM mostly for knowledge workers who apply their specific skill for case resolution or process execution. Craig also now points to the link between business architecture, strategic objectives and operational metrics that I have been talking about for some time.

Maybe the follwoing video will make the difference between dynamic and ADAPTIVE clearer:

I also propose that ACM has to deal not only with goals but with complex, captured content, dynamic embedded content, user definable business rules and is mostly event driven, but these are  Complex Business Events. I recently posted my view on how BPMN and rules relate to CBE.

Verify if BPM or case management product supports unpredictable  (semi-structured) processes with complex events in an ADAPTIVE manner by means of the following:

  • Does the system enable the definition or reuse of a business and process architecture to provide the base infrastructure for business driven process creation based on strategic objectives and operational metrics?
  • Does the modeling capability allow direct linkage of objectives, metrics to the process goals and business data in the process/case and therefore embedded verification of goal fulfillement?
  • Can properly authorized business users assemble the process/case from data objects, inbound and outbound business (with mapped data) content, user-defined rules, and GUI components (widgets?) without needing to be BPMN or flowchart experts and execute and modify at will?
  • Can unexpected events or data be handled by means of new tasks, rules, performers and goals being added to the existing process to handle them without causing disruptive exceptions ?
  • Can the signatures of unexpected events be auto-discovered and linked to the context patterns?
  • Does the CBE capability identify fuzzy patterns of similarity between events and suggests goals, tasks or actions to handle them?
  • Are business user decisions related to events fed back into the CBE pattern matching mechanism?
  • Can new performers be added into the case/process at any time and existing or newly defined tasks with associated resources be assigned to them in a social media like, but fully secure collaboration?
  • Can ‘expert’ case participants be selected manually from a skills profile or will the system recommend exeperts based on an automatic match between case and skill or due to past selection by other participants?
  • Can goals, milestones, SLA values and rules be embedded by the business user to verify compliance, efficiency and cost and take direct influence on the execution/routing/modification of the process?
  • Can the business user created processes, goals or milestones be saved at the end of the execution as new templates into the repository (with all resource templates)?
  • Can business users write rules in natural language (no technical syntax) with automatic verification of rule syntax and validity by data object and content mapping based on the business architecture?
  • Are all resources for content (capture and creation), process, rule and GUI are version controlled through a single dev/test/deploy/suspend mechanism? Does this ensure that the maintenance meta-processes for resource templates are decoupled from execution?

If you want to know how ACM can put your organization on the track to business innovation then contact us for a demonstration in which we will build the processes that are relevant to you as we demo.

Advertisements

NoSQL and Elastic Caching in Papyrus

Mike Gualteri posted on his Forrester Research blog on Application Development about NoSQL and Elastic Caching. Quote: ‘The NoSQL idea is pretty simple: Not all applications need a traditional relational database management system (RDBMS) that uses SQL to perform operations on data. Rather, data can be stored and retrieved using a single key. The NoSQL products that store data using keys are called Key-Value stores (aka KV stores).’ Mike sees the difference as: ‘Ultimately, the real difference between NoSQL and elastic caching may be in-memory versus persistent storage on disk.’

I already posted about the powerful clustering and caching algorithms of the Papyrus Platform some time back. It was now interesting to read about combining NoSQL and Elastic Caching. The Papyrus Platform uses both the same concepts on the lowest layer to support the metadata repository, rule engine, and the distributed, object-relational database and transaction engine. Even the strict security layer and easy to use thick- and thin-client GUI frontend benefit from the powerful object replication and caching.

  • Reliability and Scaling: Papyrus offers the benefits of reliability and scaling through replication. Persistence and storage management concepts are defined on a per object type and node type form. Data can be spread across thousands of nodes. Also user PC’s can have their own local node and storage. Actually, that will be even true for mobile phone users once our mobile kernel will be available later this year for iPhone, WinMobile, and Symbian.
  • Fast Key-Value Access: Papyrus supports straight key-value access but also PayprusQL object-relational access (similar to Xpath), offering query and search across data in widely distributed KV storage nodes. Those can also be offline (dumped to tape or DVD).
  • Distributed execution: Papyrus executes object-state-engines and methods (implemented in PQL), events, and rules. The deployment of the application is automatic to the local node where the data is or any other chosen node. It does not take developers (clever or not) to distribute the load across multiple servers.
  • Change of data structures: Due to Papyrus WebRepository and its class versioning we can add fields to objects without the need to restructure database tables. New instances will simply have the new fields. Data storage IS NOT XML format because the performance to parse it is dreadful. Papyrus uses field-length-keyed hex-codepaged strings that can be parsed 20 times faster.
  • Latency: Papyrus can use transient objects that not saved to disk when the data does not have to be persisted. This significantly reduces the latency of data operations. In-memory operation is thus not a downside for large or persistent objects because it can be chosen per object type (class or template).
  • Reliability: Papyrus provides distributed caching with data replication algorithms to store the data on multiple nodes. If one of the nodes goes down, the load balancer in V7 will move the user session to another node and continue with the proxy objects there. A more efficient object distribution for a HA cluster will be available in Q410.
  • Scale-out: With Papyrus you add and remove nodes during operation. Currently the application can choose how the objects are distributed across nodes. The next release in Q410 will provide this distribution on system level as a part of the backup and recovery procedure.
  • Execute in data location: Using distributed code execution, developers can distribute the workload to where the data resides rather than moving the data to the application. Execution of methods on the owner node of the tool is the basic functionality. Full Distribution  is no problem with PQL.

It does not require enterprise application developers and architects to create architectures with the above features as they are embedded in the Papyrus Platform peer-to-peer kernel engine. Papyrus thus provides all the benefits of NoSQL and Elastic Caching without the technical complexity:

  • Achieve savings by reducing RDMS licenses and maintainance.
  • Add scaling layer in-front of databases, SOA or MQ messaging.
  • Build Web applications with shared session and application data.

Innovation and Opportunity

The ISIS Papyrus Platform is one of the most innovative IT products available. Here is a list of truly unique features that have no competitor:

  1. Peer-to-Peer object-relational database and transaction engine
  2. Distributed enterprise service bus with central metadata management.
  3. Version controlled metadata repository for distributed database definitions.
  4. Deeply imbedded security and authorization concept.
  5. Automated network discovery and communication tuning.
  6. User accessible metadata repository and vocabulary for business architecture.
  7. User definable GUI with recording, training and natural language input.

Analysts such as Forrester, Butler and Strategy Partners are slowly waking up to the fact that the ISIS Papyrus Platform is a force to be reckoned with. Our competitors claim that they are more innovative, flexible and modern simply because they have been in the market shorter. A company such as ISIS simply has to be old-fashioned because it has been in business for over 20 years … I would hope that any CIO worth his money would see through that pitch, but I see business being named innovative just because they jumped on the XML/Java bandwagon. That is not innovation!

A serious software company with many satisfied customers such as ISIS has one problem: Supporting existing customers and keeping new product versions upward compatible. Also ISIS has to try to achieve that as well as possible. A new business has no customer base and therefore they can do things any way they want. But that is not yet innovation. Apple has in difference been there long and is still one of the most innovative businesses.

ISIS has not only been first in many capabilites but has always pushed the envelope. Papyrus document formatting in transactional, on-demand and interactive mode is still the most powerful and by far more capable and performant than anything using XML such as XSL-FO. The document classification of Papyrus Capture still defines the state of the art. The metadata state/event driven modelling of processes is unique and more advanced than your basic BPM Suite. The machine learning for processes is an industry first as well.

I have challenged our competitors to head-on comparisons many times and they always decline. I have asked analysts for functional comparisons and they rather go by market share. Finally I don’t understand that these products are still bought without a proof of concept installation. Try before you buy is the only approach that makes sense.

The recession offers many opportunities and more scrutiny when buying software is certainly much more in vogue. All vendors claim to be innovative so call them out and put it to the test. Just adding buzzwords to the marketing pitch is not even innovative marketing.

Butler Group: Papyrus Platform Technology Audit

I am pleased to inform you that Butler Group has announced the findings of its well-known Technology Audit for the Papyrus Platform. The process was quite lengthy and I was surprised at the depth of questions and research.  I was even more astounded when I saw the first version of the audit, because it was extremely detailed and technical. Butler Group Analyst Mike Thompson had worked into the core functions of our very broad system. I actually had to ask to use some less technical language (i.e. business objects instead of object-oriented metadata model). This research is clearly directed towards CIOs, IT experts, project managers and not the business user.

The report is either available through Butler Group or can be requested from ISIS. Here are some relevant passages from the research:

Product Analysis:
The ISIS Papyrus Communication & Process Platform (Papyrus Platform v7) is a consolidated solution that brings together Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Business Process Management (BPM), Business Rules Management (BRM), and operational Business Intelligence (BI) using data federation to create composite knowledge applications with front- and back-office collaboration.

Product Operation:
The Papyrus Platform manages a Business Architecture meta model in its central WebRepository and uses an application life-cycle change-management infrastructure to deploy the model metadata into its productive servers, portals and end-user PCs via the completely transparent Enterprise Service Bus that connects all platform nodes.

The Papyrus Platform has been designed to ease the integration with existing IT infrastructures and applications; it enables the creation of reusable objects that map processes to existing applications, and it facilitates rapid process development and immediate distributed deployment. These document and process templates are stored and deployed throughout the enterprise from the Papyrus WebRepository to mainframe, UNIX, PC, and Web environments without conversion, reprogramming, or even recompilation.

These cost-intensive integration aspects of creating process-centric service applications is all too often overlooked; as though simply abstracting the processes will somehow remove the pain of integration and mapping the process activities to underlying source systems. By using a business-architectured model, ISIS Papyrus has not only addressed many of the unanswered questions posed by BPM, but also implemented a workable solution.

Product Emphasis:
The ISIS Papyrus Platform has been designed to hide the deeply technical nature of the solution (and the problems it solves) behind a set of technologies that create an environment that is both user friendly and user valid. The solution crosses a number of boundaries and that is one of the issues that ISIS Papyrus has to overcome in moving the solution to market; it does not fit neatly into a recognised space, but that does make it any less useful nor any less relevant to the market, it is simply a question of helping the market understand the true depth of the problem.

Mike Thompson also fully understood the problem that we face with bringing a radically new solution to the market. I certainly hope that over time we will be able to make the market see that powerful business solutions do not have to be complex and difficult to implement. Nor do they need to come from the big vendors …

Sir Walter von Ockam had defined his famous ‘Occam’s Razor’: “All things being equal, the most simple solution to a problem is most probably the right one.” The Papyrus Platform is a lot simpler than most other options to implement consolidated ECM, BPM and CRM environments.

Forrester’s Henry Peyret on EA Evolution

This is my response to a Forrester publication on Enterprise Architecture Evolution:

Quote: “The recently published Forrester Wave™ on enterprise architecture (EA) tools demonstrates that the real benefit of these tools is not in the modeling itself, but in the modeling that supports real EA objectives — such as knowledge-sharing, collaboration on standards, and providing aggregated dashboards that help decision-makers choose from different scenarios.”

I happen to not fully agree because while all the above is important the EA tools proposed are outside the actual application and purely in the development environment. Evolution is however an internal function of the execution itself. Here my response:

Henry, interesting subject indeed!!! But does the term EVOLUTION not imply a seamless functionality within the application system? Nature seems to evolve without someone performing simulation and analysis and then makes an assumption as to which changes might bring an improvement? Well, we could have a religious discussion here on ‘Intelligent Design’ but let’s stay away from that. Evolution works by taking fitness information straight from the execution and feeding it right back into the next cycle of execution. Darwin was even apparently wrong that fitness happens by chance because he was not aware of the functionality of GENE EXPRESSION. Genes do not have to change to improve the design, they just have to be expressed in a more fitting way.

We need to do the same with software! Analysis, simulation and monitoring are NOT AGILE, Henry! They are just little less rigid. In any case I propose that no-one wants or needs rigid processes no matter how well analyzed or simulated! Simulation is guess work and yes, using the Monte Carlo method the guess work can be optimized but it still is a ‘gamble’ (sic). Las Vegas calling. Business needs an environment in which processes – and applications representing those – tune themselves with fitness information coming straight from user interaction in real-time into the next execution cycle.

This is what the Papyrus Platform does with its User-Trained Agent. Let the users do their work and feed real-time performance data right back into the execution environment to improve the processes by discovering decision patterns based from user interaction. Analysis and simulation are – like process I might add – outdated concepts from manufacturing. Running a business well is not manufacturing, it is about empowering the business user to service the customer and not by putting BOTH into a process straight jacket.

Mike Gualtieri on ‘Horses for Courses’

In his Application Development blog, Forrester’s Mike Gualtieri posted on the phrase ‘horses for courses’ relating to the need of many different software products for CEP and business rules. Here is my response:

“Mike, I too had not heard the phrase before. I am however not in agreement with the comparison. Why? Horses have evolved naturally and did develop certain special abilities based on their environment. While software evolves too it is however not tracing a typical fitness landscape. Rational thought is used to form a product that has certain abilities. Strangely enough, we are right in the middle of the different faiths about natural evolution or intelligent design. Yes, if software was developed for a special use and change was driven by the user demand of that group then it evolves accordingly and you will have ‘horses for courses’. Things take a long time but the solution fits the – usually special – needs well. This is how I believe nature works too.

In difference to nature, we do take the role of the Great Architect of the Software Universe and software can be a good fit for most uses if designed accordingly. Especially if we look at ‘Business Technology’ rather than ‘Information Technology’. Business does not want five different horses that can not even be ridden by the same rider. The business landscape changes much faster than the software can evolve. We have to design software that is so flexible that it can be shaped by the business user on a day to day basis. Isn’t that what CEP and BR is mostly meant for?

Complex Event Processing and Business Rules should be right at the heart of any business technology and thus not be hard coded for special uses. Following my own faith in the above, I am pretty sure that with Papyrus we have designed a horse that can be trained in a few days by the people in the know to perform as good as the limited ‘horses for courses.’ It does that by using CEP and BR.”

Papyrus Platform for ADF

Two studies covered the ISIS Papyrus Platform recently for its ADF Automated Document Factory functionality. One was ‘The Gartner MarketScope for Automated Document Factory 2.0 Software’ which is available on http://www.gartner.com. The other one is  ‘Innovation in Automated Document Process Management’ from Strategy Partners, the European leader in market research and strategy consultancy for Enterprise Content Management and Output Management.

The Strategy Partner study fully agreed on one point with Gartner Group: “All the elements of the ADF 2.0 can be covered with ISIS Papyrus.”

The two studies differ substantially in scope and quality. Strategy Partner report author Oscar Dubbeldam said, “Innovation in Automated Document Process Management is certainly not a traditional market research report in which several vendors are compared. It encompasses an in-depth study of vendor products and gives a lot of practical advices to organizations who need to transform their current print and mail activities at a more strategic level.” I agree.

The Gartner Group Study obviously rates company size as more relevant than software functionality and innovation. The Papyrus functionality was rated as ‘positive’ but then so were most other vendors, except the hardware vendors who received better ratings. The report completely missed one essential point which it sort of plays down or ignores: ISIS Papyrus is the only non-hardware vendor who fully supports all modules of ADF 2.0. The report states that we do support them, but missed the fact that we do also support all major hardware, printer vendors, operating systems and databases and therefore make the user of the Papyrus Platform for ADF independent of HW or OS prerequisites. Try that with one of the HW vendors?

Gartner points to our lack of size in the US and sort of questions our ability to perform remote support. If they would not see it as a drawback they would not mention it. I am disappointed because I explained our powerful remote support concept and technology in person to the author Pete Basiliere. Consider this: The three largest outsourcers in the US – First Data Resources, TSYS and Personix – produce together approximately half the American credit card issues ALL with Papyrus. Would we not be able to give them the support they need, we would not be their NUMBER ONE document output vendor. Papyrus is that easy to implement AND support! If a vendor has a large service unit, I propose that this is so because his solution is rather complex!!!

To my very positive surprise Strategy Partners went a lot deeper into functionality than Gartner. They identified Papyrus’ leadership in “workflow capabilities that are extremely flexible and can incorporate any type of activity, ranging from print, e-mail, web delivery and archive including auditing for compliance” and stated further that “normalization of multiple different formatted data streams as it is non-intrusive and does not need pre-data processing.” Some more Papyrus highlights from the Strategy Partners report:

  • GUI for the operators can be structured in many different views
  • Auditing and logging of actions and tasks can be done at any level
  • Multi-channel delivery capabilities
  • Postal optimization capabilities
  • Configuration of new applications speeds deployment rapidly

Strategy Partners did not miss much but they obviously focused on the ADF capability. Therefore the UTA User Trained Agent and the very powerful RIA capability of Papyrus EYE for the Web, just get cursory mention.

After the very positive report about ISIS Papyrus in the Madison Advisors Transpromo Study, it seems that we are finally getting the attention we should be getting.

Both studies are certainly worth reading if you are planning on making decisions for document automation so please go out to those analysts websites to buy them online.