#IoT as a system of digital contracts (thanks to #blockchain, #BPM, #ECM and #cryptography)

Ability to work together is one of the essential enablers for the civilisation. At present, countries, companies and individuals can work together. Considering the current huge interest to the IoT, this blogpost outlines how to enable the things also working together with other things and people.

From the three following definitions of IoT, the last one is the better fit with this blogpost goal.
  1. Wikipedia states that “the internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data”
  2. The IoT European Research Cluster (IERC) definition states that IoT is “A dynamic global network infrastructure with self-configuring capabilities based on standard and interoperable communication protocols where physical and virtual “things” have identities, physical attributes, and virtual personalities and use intelligent interfaces, and are seamlessly integrated into the information network.”.
  3. The Alliance for IOT Innovation (AIOTI) report http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/dae/document.cfm?action=display&doc_id=11810 says “The IoT represents a concept and a paradigm that considers pervasive presence in the environment of a variety of things/objects that through wireless and wired connections and unique addressing schemes are able to interact with each other and cooperate with other things/objects to create new applications/services and reach common goals.”
A typical pattern for working together is the following – establish a contract, carry it out and close it. Considering that the things understand very well digital information, a contract must be digital to be used by the things.

As explained in “Digital contract as a process enables business in the digital world (thanks to #blockchain, #BPM, #ECM and #cryptography)” http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2016/07/digital-contract-as-process-enables.html, a digital contract is an explicit and machine-executable process between several business-entities, primarily, things and people.

For example, a new future household fridge will have as minimum four types of contract simultaneously: 1) with people who are living a particular household, 2) with a producer and service company for this fridge, 3) with some online shops to order various food, and 4) with all other things within a particular household to achieve together some goals of energy consumptions.

In general, the things are contracted to cooperate with other things and people differently:
  • orchestration of several “slaves” by one “master” (also known as strong coordination)
  • choreography of two or more business-entities (also known as contractual coordination)
  • goal-achieving by a group of participants, like a football team (also known as weak coordination)
Of course, the same thing holds different roles in different digital contracts.

Fortunately, digital contracts as explicit and machine-executable processes are powered by BPM which already knows how to handle all these complexities.

But, can BPM-centric digital contracts provide necessary processing for high data volumes are being generated? Yes, with the help from microservices. Let us consider that all automation activities in a process are implemented as microservices (which are potentially externalised from a business process engine).

Firstly, each process (actually a digital contract) may be executed in a partially independent environment – only a common part would be a blockchain with all the records (or audit trails).

Secondly, each running process can anticipate what microservices will be required and can prepare secured and individual instances of microservices (with one-time passwords).

Imagine a football match. The venue starts an individual “customer” process for each person on the stadium. Knowing the customer, such a process prepares microservices which are the most probably used by this person.


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