Much like the evolution of systems design, IT-enabled process change ebbs and flows over time. We see this in history as each technology revolution brings with it a refactoring of business operations.
With the rise of client/server computing in the 1980s, and the introduction of database servers and visual development tools like PowerBuilder, “business process re-engineering” became all the craze during the 1990s.
By 1993, 60 percent of the Fortune 500 developed IT systems to automate mundane tasks like insurance claims processing or AP invoice/purchase order reconciliation, channeling the mandate of technology-led business transformation in Michael Hammer’s infamous 1990 HBR article, “Don’t Automate, Obliterate.”
Twenty-odd years later, we’re about to see another “flow” of transformation thanks to resurgent interest in artificial intelligence and the emergence of the AI-powered business application. What’s different this time around is the transformation will be driven bottom up by rank-and-file employees, making it potentially more disruptive than any “flow” of process change that came before. What are AI-powered apps, and what do they have to do with business process re-engineering?