Business Process Management Meets Blockchain

12/28/2017 07:37 am ET

As a small business flourishes and grows into a big company, or even a multinational corporation, sticky notes and smartphone reminders start to become grossly inefficient. Complex business processes require a simple and effective way to model, automate, execute and optimize activity flows – and large enterprises have elected a clear favorite – business process management (BPM).

However, the worldwide preference for BPM does not mean that the approach is completely faultless. On a company level, it only provides a certain level of workflow visibility, and operational technology standards are lacking. Interoperability is a challenge, which, along with the lack of trust, makes inter-organizational business process choreography too complex.

Blockchain technology, being a distributed and decentralized system, could present a solution. A modern BPM will implement blockchain technology and smart contracts and reduce costs, risk, and time delays phenomenally, while also increasing consistency, security and quality.

But needless to say, blockchain technology comes with its own challenges. Capable developers are few and far between, and in high demand. At present, companies’ only two choices seem to be parting with a big bag of money, or risking their business and reputation to a rare bug, that can land their embarrassed faces straight on page one (examples seem to be easier to find than blockchain developers).

A blockchain startup is trying to kill these two birds with one stone. Estonian-based Niquid Tech plan to extend BPM to fully support blockchain abstractions, while also turning BPMN, the widely-accepted and well known standard process notation into a programming language for blockchain software. The Fabric Token (FT) ecosystem is still in its early stages, but according to its White Paper, it is going to “empower individuals and businesses with easy access to blockchain technology and smart contracts, thus allowing virtually anyone to participate, in one way or another, in building a decentralized and trustworthy world”.

The paper also specifies that The Fabric Token platform will consist of 4 main components – The Fabric Token, TokenGen, DApp Workbench, and the Fabric Store.

The Fabric Token will be the payment means within the ecosystem and can be acquired by potential users of the platform via the upcoming FT token sale.

TokenGen, due to be released in February 2018, will allow people to easily generate smart contracts for the token economy by going through a simple step-by-step process.

DApp Workbench, the main product of the ecosystem, will allow businesses of any size to easily integrate blockchain technology and smart contracts into their BPM. The software will include a desktop application, which will feature a drag-and-drop UI, allowing users to graphically build their workflows. On the back-end, DApp Workbench will use smart contract components for specific use cases to cover businesses’ needs for operations. The product will also have a cloud, where smart contracts will be tested, compiled, and monitored.

The final component of the FT ecosystem is the Fabric Store, which will be a decentralized marketplace for smart contract components, similar to the Atlassian marketplace. The Fabric Store will allow third-party developers to contribute smart contract components to the platform, further expanding the functionality scope of the proprietary software.

In summary, business process management could be radically improved, on many levels, by integrating blockchain technology and smart contracts. While most of the blockchain-based projects are currently quite similar to one another i.e. trading platforms, gaming tokens, etc, the Fabric Token project seems to be a unique idea that is really worth more attention by the industry.

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