Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another analyst report on Be Informed

By: Frank Buytendijk, chief marketing officer

Two weeks ago, Forrester published an analyst report on Be Informed. I have had a few questions already if there are other analyst reports as well. I think I have found the ultimate analyst report on Be Informed. Even more, it has been out for many years.

The analyst in question is Rene Descartes (1596-1650), a French philosopher, and father of what is now called "rationalism". He validated Be Informed's way of meta-modeling the business, although I must admit I am doubtful whether he was actually aware of this particular use of his philosophy.

Descartes tried to establish a fundamental set of principles of what is true. What cannot be doubted. Like any good philosopher, interested in what is true, he looked at phenomena and the world around him and asked if there were different explanations possible. Testingbe whether the existing explanations were correct. The safest way of asking these questions is to have no preconceptions at all, to doubt absolutely everything. The only way to establish truth is to reach a certain sound foundation, or in Be Informed terms an ontology, of which the rest can be derived.

Descartes eventually reached the conclusion that everything can be doubted, except doubt itself. You cannot doubt your doubt, because that would mean all would be certain, and that is what you are doubting. The thought of doubt itself already proves that doubt cannot be doubted. And because you cannot separate a person from his thoughts, therefore, cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I exist. In fact, you have to exist. If you think you are dead, the fact you are thinking you are dead, proves that you are alive, as thought implies life. Trying to doubt your doubt is a metathought (thinking about thinking).

Still with me? Let's apply this thinking to Be Informed. Basically Descartes said that the only thing that cannot be doubted is the metalevel. The rational and pure thought. Everything real in the world can be doubted. Every process. Every system. Every way of working. What cannot be doubted is your description of your business model, or as Peter Drucker called it, your theory of the business. In fact, it is the only thing you can rely on. Your understanding of the world around you is changing all the time, because of new insights, but it is the only thing you in the end are in control of. The rest is questionable.

This exactly is Be Informed's approach. By building a business process ontology, you shape your world. Any specific process, any specific transaction, any instance of reality is simply derived from it. It is not needed to predefine every single process or exception, the only thing you do is describe the rules that every process instance (or in Be Informed's terminology: case) needs to obey.

Any more questions on the validity of Be Informed's ontological approach, in comparison with the common “best practice” approach of defining concrete processes? I doubt it...