Posted by: Adam Deane | 04/07/2012

The Future Technology of BPM

Voice RecognitionSir Arthur Charles Clarke was a British author, inventor and futurist.
He is probably best known for his three “laws” of prediction.
The one I love the most is:
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

When talking about advanced technology in BPM, the focus is currently on mobile.
But looking a few years ahead, there is a one technology that I believe will have an impact on the way BPM systems are built: Speech Recognition.

The business case is quite simple:
Most of the BPM solutions use forms.
Once forms were filled by pencil and paper, then came the electronic forms, then keyboards to fill in the forms, and now “Mobile” enables you to “tap” information into the forms.

Think a few years down the line, when employees will be able to “speak” to the computer to fill out their forms.
Faster, easier, and frees your hands to drink your coffee and scratch your nose.

Voice recognition already exists. It’s embedded into WindowsXP, Vista and Windows7
(Start -> Accessories -> Ease of Access -> Windows Speech Recognition), enabling users to control the system by voice commands
The thing is – no one uses it. And there is a reason:

Voice recognition doesn’t work smoothly (yet..)

But all that is going to change. Two big companies have invested in Voice recognition
Apple’s Siri, and Google Chrome
There is even an industry standard (, and an acrynonm (VXML).

Voice recognition used to require complex server side coding, but now that the technology is embedded into browsers, it becomes simple to use in your application.
The only browser that currently supports voice recognition is Google’s Chrome, but the other browsers will follow shortly, and then the applications including BPM systems.

Voice Recognition – Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.


  1. I think you’re right, Adam, we’ll get there! Long, long ago when I studied human language acquisition, common wisdom was quite firm on the point that a machine could *never* recognize human speech nor translate any language into another. The common wisdom was wrong; Clarke is proved right again and again. Nice connection you made here.

  2. Adam, Any “future-of-technology” item can be the “future of BPM” as well. With the blurring of Personal Technology and Business Technology, expect more of this to happen…. Speech Recognition included. My wish-list is to see the non-technology items of Personal Life being part of BPM – not tomorrow but today! For instance, “people talking (sense)”! 🙂

    • Hi Ashish,

      I agree. Technology is the easy part of BPM. Dealing with people is the hard part.

      Not all future technologies will have an impact on BPM:
      Embedding internet into your TV, barcodes, or even touch-screens will have a limited impact.

      As most BPM solutions use forms, I do believe that voice recognition will have an direct impact on BPM.


      • Adam, my feeling is that by the time Voice Recognition becomes mainstream (so much that it becomes efficient in 90% cases as against nuisance), the BPM solutions would have changed drastically, the way the work gets performed would have changed, the definition of the work items would have changed, a lot more would have happened. The nature of business and nature of business would have altered, and the way organizations look at Performance improvement would have changed as well. So, I’d rather look at how the broader implications would change, a force fit of a Voice Recognition into the form filling would be too tactical, I guess!

  3. Adam .. “there is a one technology that I believe will have an impact on the way BPM systems are built”

    You are right! And, it is happening NOW.

    Civerex has a speech application project just starting up where construction crews will call in material/equipment orders (voice + video).

    The recordings will be analyzed by speech recognition software and fed forward to a natural language parser that has the ability to select out key words and launch resource allocation/workflow software that is context/situation appropriate.

    Since speech recognition is not quite there yet, (50 years of experimentation and counting), gatekeepers will edit incoming orders and launch BPM processes.

  4. […] month ago I blogged about the future technology of BPM “Voice Recognition – Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from […]

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