Will the right use of #blockchain make the records management obsolete?

It is well know that records management is mandatory and not trivial enterprise-wide capability. Its implementation is a daunting task.

Some documents, database snapshots, copies of external sources, etc. must be carefully classified, secured at the very serious level of confidence, stored for many years and, fortunately, never used for legal matters!

Considering that all information become available digitally, is it possible to simplify the records management with the use of some modern technologies? What can be those technologies?

Let us try to imagine.

The first key technology is the one-way hash function which generates a short and unique set of bits (digital signature) for any digital entity. Thus by making the hash of a document (or hash) available publicly (e.g. published in a popular newspaper), an enterprise can proof that their digital entity (e.g. a document) has not been altered. For example, a contract that was signed by two partiers can't be altered by any of these parties.

The second key technology is the blockchain ( see http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2016/01/entarch-view-on-blockchain.html ). It allows to store some information with the guarantee that no one can alter any piece of information. This guarantee is based on the encryption technique that uses the previously collected information. Typically, hashes are stored in the blockchain.

The third key technology is a distributed storage for digital entities. A digital entity is decomposed into smaller chunks which are encrypted and stored in different and independent storages. Thus no single storage can reproduce a complete digital entity and try to decrypt it.

The fourth key technology is BPM (Business Process Management) which tags and classifies all the digital entities as they are used in various business processes.

Thus, the big picture can be the following:

1. Any  digital entity is stored in a distributed storage with required level of confidentiality.

2. A hash of any important business digital entity is stored in the blockchain with the required level of integrity.

3. The context of any business entity is provided by business process instances in which this entity was used. Corporate's business rules define the importance of the business entities.

4. The storage duration may be illimited (with a small annual fee) or time-bound (can be paid in advance) with the required level of availability.

5. All above can be fully automated and its OPEX cost is constantly diminishing.

It seems that the "mechanical part" of the record management can be fully "absorbed" by a proper combination of the modern technologies (actually, by commodity services built on those technologies).

So, the records management will become a creative profession - finding, mining, enriching and disseminating information which is important for the business.


"Smart contracts" as an #BPM application - golden opportunity or not?

This blogpost was discussed at BPM.COM forum http://bpm.com/bpm-today/in-the-forum/do-you-see-smart-contracts-having-an-impact-on-bpm

Smart-contract is the current way to conduct the digital business. Everything is agreed up-front, just wait for actions, execute a payment. Because that everything is non-breakable by any of parties involved,  independent and mutually untrusted parties may conduct safely the business via smart-contracts.

Smart-contracts are explicit and machine-executable "simple" business processes at the level of the global digital economy. At the same time, smart-contracts covers only a happy path in their processes. The reality is more complex.

At present, BPM perfectly knows all traps and techniques for coordination of work and can successfully handle very complex processes (formal regulations, compliances, etc.). Also BPM is explicit, machine-executable and non-breakable but only at the level of individual enterprises

Can BPM delivery smart-contracts and enable enterprises for the global digital economy? Or will smart-contracts eat the current BPM areal be becoming more versatile? 

I think that BPM as a discipline already covers the smart-contract concept. But BPM as tools must adapt. Why?
  1. There is not commonly-agreed BPM terminology.
  2. There is not commonly-agreed processes and cases execution semantic.
  3. There is no commonly-agreed design-time APIs.
  4. There is no commonly-agreed run-time APIs.
  5. BPM, as a business technology, has not been architected yet.
All of these items are doable if there is the real willingness of BPM-suite tools vendors to collaborate. Or BPM can miss a huge business opportunity.


What Services should be offered by an Enterprise Architecture Practice?

All depends, as usual.

1 Core EA practice

Let us consider that core EA practice is as defined in http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2015/12/enterprise-patterns-adagio-entarch.html

Its possible services are the following.

1.1 Architecture Governance Services

These services allow to define, execute, supervise, and review strategies, policies and procedures for
  • business 
  • applications 
  • information 
  • infrastructure 
  • security

1.2 Architecture Delivery Services

The purpose of these services is to deliver architecture in accordance with its lifecycle and some specific of an enterprise. For example, a target architecture of an enterprise has three major parts:
  1. Corporate Unified Business Execution (CUBE) platform see http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/search/label/%23platform
  2. Platform-based solutions see http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/search/label/PEAS
  3. Stand-alone applications
Then each of "smaller" services must address each of those parts.
  1. Architecture Design Service
    • Platform
    • Platform-based solutions
    • Stand-alone solutions
  2. Architecture Support Service
    • Platform
    • Platform-based solutions
    • Stand-alone solutions
  3. Architecture Operations Service
    • Platform
    • Platform-based solutions
    • Stand-alone solutions
  4. Architecture Evolution Service
    • Platform
    • Platform-based solutions
    • Stand-alone solutions

1.3 Innovations and optimisation services

Possible services:
  • Training
  • Knowledge dissemination
  • Prototyping
  • Experimentations
  • Technology watch

2 Supporting EA practice to enable other functions

Possible services:
  • EA services in the PMO processes
  • EA services in procurement processes
  • EA services in strategic planning processes

3 Reminder - check that set of service is complete

Know all your artefacts (i.e. those are under your responsibilities or those about which you are consulted ) and build services around these artefacts.

For each of artefact:
  • Policy
    • RASCI
    • lifecycle = states+events+procedures
    • security
  • Procedures (design, build, support, operations, maintenance) - depending of RASCI
  • Catalogue
  • Relationships to other artefacts