More About the Author
I have been on a 25 year journey to try and find the keys to technology that will help people work together better. I started at the time that "Local Area Networks" were being invented, the promise of making an environment which could facilitate co-worker communication was evident, but not yet invented.
1980's: I participated in development of "Integrated Office Productivity Software" which was a market trend at the time to bring word processing, spreadsheets, database, etc together into a single package. At Software Products International we made a multi-user database, a multi-user spreadsheet, and even experimented with a multi-user word processor. At Ashton Tate, I worked on the Framework product which was the first to have email capability built into it, so sending documents, and even parts of documents, around to others was easy. We experimented there with automatically generated mailing lists, and collaborative working groups.
Early 1990's: I started a "Groupware Team" at Fujitsu to make a product to allow for "Collaborative Planning". The idea was this: you have a large team of people who need to accomplish a project. Different people are experts in different parts and different levels of the project. A manager or director may be able to identify the major steps that project has to go through, and how the work is divided up among sub-teams. Then each sub-team would extend the plan with their standard practices for their part of the work. Finally, each team member would extend the plan in ways that their experience has taught them. It is not just that everyone is doing what is optimized for them, but that everyone else on the team has visibility into what they are doing. Thus when the VP wants to know the current status, they can see the overall status, and drill down to the current details. It was evident to me that in a typical job an individual will be doing thing that are similar to what they had done before, they will want to reuse the process fragment that they had used last time, and possibly modify it slightly to fit the current situation. To do this, we need portable process fragments, and we need a graphical notation that non-programmers can use to describe the process fragments. Beyond planning, and showing status, this technology can also let people know when something is now ready to be worked on, so that is how "Regatta Technology" and "TeamWARE Flow" came into existence.
2000's: After the dot.com bust I came back to Fujitsu where i-Flow and Interstage BPM had been built upon the earlier design of TeamWARE Flow. This took the original collaborative planning ideas, and updated it for stronger integration to web services and REST integration. Because portable process fragments is still a key, I have spent a lot of time in recent years helping with the development of XPDL, Wf-XML, and most recently BPAF and Workcast. I agreed to chair the WfMC Technical Committee. The standards are secondary to the real goal: Global Collaborative Planning. The standards have to be in place to that all the pieces can talk to each other, without exclusion caused by proprietary implementations.
Future: There is still a huge potential for "Global Collaborative Planning". My original goal of increasing the effectiveness of workers in the office, and now moved to increasing the effectiveness of workers wherever they are, and however they are connected to the cloud. At the heart of all this is quite simple a way to communicate to each other about our tasks, plans, and processes. Each person needs some level of skill in communicating this, and then we need ways of reflecting this information around the Internet to the right person at the right time. When we succeed in this, and I have no doubt that we will succeed, then much of the drudgery of getting things done will be taken care of, and we as humans will be able to focus on new ideas for creating new things more effectively that we have ever done before.