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What is digital business automation?

While business has always innovated andembraced new technology for a competitive edge, these
days, the pace of this has hastened tobreakneck speed. Witness such innovations as mobile Gigabit
connections, autonomously driven cars, andsmart homes - all on the cutting edge, and the stuff of science fiction just adecade or so ago. An important trend for today’s businesses is digital businessautomation.


How does digital business automation differfrom digital transformation?


This is distinct from digitaltransformation which refers to the implementation of digital processes
across the business. Digital transformationis more of a cultural thing, with a rollout of digital
technology, such as migration of data tothe cloud, embracing the DevOps approach to software
development, and use of business analyticstools to spot trends - and do all of this faster than the


Digital business automation is a componentof digital transformation. It focuses on incorporating the digital realm - inparticular data, the software and hardware that works with it, and theinfrastructure that supports it - and applying upgrades to efficiency totraditional business processes. This is all done to make the business moreresponsive to current market trends, interfacing with customers better, withthe ultimate goal of improving revenue. In other words, digital businessautomation uses digital innovation to take a clunky business process, andstreamline it for a competitive edge.
History of digital business automation


The origin of digital business automationcan be traced back to IBM in 2005, and its creation of the
BPMN standard (BusinessProcess Model and Notation). IBM provided software to facilitate creating flowchartsand diagrams for business purposes.


The goal was to graphically describecomplex business processes, with a standard notation, to make
it more understandable in the organization.The software that IBM released for digital business
automation was known as WPS (WebsphereProcess Server), and the files created were from a newly created open standardknown as BPEL (Business Process Execution Language).

目标是用标准的符号图形化的描述复杂业务流程使之在组织中更容易理解。IBM发布的数字业务自动化的软件被称为WPS(Websphere Process Server),并且创建的文件来自于一个新创建的被称之为BPEL(Business Process Execution Language)的开放标准。

WPS failed to gain the needed popularity,and was more focused on the SOA (service-oriented
architecture) than on traditional businessaspects. This made it more focused on technical aspects,
which made it more difficult forapplication to business processes. To focus more on these users,
IBM then released their IBM WebSphereBusiness Modeller. However, it did not stand alone, and
migration was required from the newsoftware back to WPS for execution to occur.

architecture)。这使它更专注于技术方面而使业务流程的应用变动更加困难。为了更多的关注这些用户,IBM发布了他们的IMP WebSphere Business Modeller,然而,它并不是独立的,需要从新的软件迁移回WPS才能执行。

In the meantime, while WPS struggled togain traction in this emerging sector, a competitor
emerged, Teamworks, a product of Lombardi.IBM’s solution to this worthy competition was to
acquire the company outright. They alsopromptly in June 2010 renamed the Teamworks software to WebSphere LombardiEdition (WLE).

同时,当WPS想要在这新兴领域获得关注的时候,竞争对手出现了,Teamwors,Lombardi的一个产品。IBM对于这次有价值的竞争的解决方案是直接收购这个公司。他们还在2010年6月将Teamworks软件重新命名为WebSphere Lombardi Edition (WLE)

Having two products for digital businessautomation, WPS and WLE, under the IBM umbrella proved confusing. Theysubsequently combined them both into one product, the IBM Business Process Manager(IBPM), drawing on the best of these two platforms. The IBPM offered anintuitive way to capture business processes, and is approachable for lesstechnical business types to turn the business process into an understandablediagram. Furthermore, diagrams can be adjusted easily.

事实证明,IBM旗下的两款产品,WPS 和WLE是令人困惑的。他们随后将两者合并为一个产品,IBPM(IBM Business Process Manager)以充分利用这两个平台。IBPM提供了一个直观的方式来捕获业务流程,将低技术含量的业务类型转换业务流程成为一个可理解的图表。此外,图表可以很容易的进行调整。

State of digital business automation today


The current IBPM remains focused onimproving business processes, and unlike earlier versions that favored thetechnical or the business aspects, this version attempted to strike a balancethat can “improve collaboration between IT and business teams.” They alsoinclude built-in process
accelerators, a self service portal, and alearning library.


IBM recently took a step forward this yearto their next generation of digital business automation,
and debuted their IBM Automation Platformfor Digital Business, which promises “an integrated
platform of five automation capabilitiesthat help business people drive virtually all types of
automation projects at speed and scale.”Their five pillars are:
Tasks - automation of repetitive human work
Content - collection and management ofbusiness data with connectivity to digital business
Workflow - the ability to analyze andimprove business processes for improvements
Capture - digitization of businessdocuments, with extraction and analysis of data while obviating a manual entryprocess
Decisions - application of business rulesto fuel on the fly change in processes, while being able to
audit the process
With such a robust platform, all types ofenterprise work can be automated including tasks, decisions and workflows, withthe capability to grow, and add multiple pieces as needed.


Other implementations of digital businessautomation


Another less known company is offering adigital business automation tool. Much of digital business automation hasfocused on analyzing and streamlining a process at an organization. As the datais available, and stays within the confines of the organization, this is a lesschallenging scenario. Ultimus wants to take on a more complicated scenario, oftransactions between organizations.


Here, things are more bumpy, with majortrust issues between the parties involved in the
transaction, including customers, suppliersand partners. These types of transactions, from a
purchase order, to a loan, or an employmentcontract, are typically quite time consuming.
Documents need to be completed, and theyare usually paper based, with physical signatures,
notaries, and the dreaded faxes back andforth- hardly the speed that a nimble business aspires to.
The blockchain functions quite well as adistributed ledger, most commonly for crypto currency
transactions these days, but it could alsobe applied to these types of business transactions as well.
In order to take the theoretical to thepractical, Ultimus is moving towards applying blockchain
technology to business transactions withtheir Composed Process Solutions (CPS). Some practical
challenges that their solution addressesinclude the accuracy of timestamps (within two hours given current blockchaintech), scalability and keeping the cost of preserving the data at an affordablelevel.


A case scenario of Ultimus’ CPS is for ablockchain enabled car loan. Here a digital business
automation approach gets applied to astreamlined user interface. Via a web portal, with data stored in theirblockchain, the documents for the loan are tracked for uploading, verification,and review.

Ultimus CPS 的一个案例场景是用区块链实现汽车贷款。这里的数字业务自动化被应用于一个简化的用户界面。通过门户网站,以及存在区块链中的数据,可以跟踪贷款所需文件的上传,验证及审查。

Gone are the pile of manila folders, aswell as waiting for the notary public to return (who is
invariably at lunch in our experience), asthe documents are now ‘e-notarized’ via a highly secure
login process. Along the way, an audittrail is created, and in another example of an automated
business process, automated emails aregenerated to update the concerned parties on how this is
We also discuss digital transformation ingreater detail here