BPM and Cognitive Apps

Increasingly, organizations will try to improve processes that involve decisions and in many cases they will do it by trying to incorporate cognitive technology.  To facilitate this, leading cognitive vendors will offer apps that will help companies solve specific kinds of problems.

A good example of this is IBM’s recent release of IBM Watson Tradeoff Analytics.  In effect IBM has developed a generic solution to a specific type of problem:  choosing the best solution when there are several possibilities and conflicting goals.  Here are three versions of the the problem:

  • Bank analysts or wealth managers seek to select the best investment strategy based on a set of performance attributes, risk and cost.
  • Consumers seek to purchase a product from among several options that will best satisfy their concerns about features, price and warranty.
  • A physician seeks to identify the best treatment for a patient while assuring that the solution will satisfy a number of customer concerns as to success rate, effectiveness, adverse effects and cost.

In each case there is an activity that gathers information on constraints and another activity that uses the information on constraints to sort through a database of possible solutions and identifies the best solution.  In some cases there will be no one best solution.  Some solutions will satisfy some constraints best while other solutions will satisfy other constraints.  In such a case the results will need to be summarized for the user (the customer in one case, the physician in another) who will then want to examine the options and choose among them.

IBM’s Tradeoff Analytics service runs on Watson and resides in the cloud.  It can be integrated with a IBM BPM workflow diagram to add decision making capabilities to a business process.

IBM has recently published a tutorial entitled Integrate IBM BPM with the IBM Watson Tradeoff Analytics service on IBM Bluemix which explains the app and walks the reader through the process of downloading IBM’s BPM product, developing a small process flow, and then linking an activity to IBMs Watson Tradeoff in the cloud.  (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/mw-1607-pawlikowski-bluemix-trs/1607-pawlikowski.html)

IBM’s Tradeoff Analysis app will not be appropriate for most readers.  It represents a general trend, however, toward combining business process analysis and cognitive techniques to make processes more intelligent.  Further, it illustrates how these apps can support existing decision makers rather than introducing fully automated solutions.

Since many of us will be moving toward integrated BPM-Cognitive process work in the near future, I suggest that working through this IBM tutorial is a nice way to begin thinking about what the future will be like.




IBM just published a nice tutorial showing


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