Smart Contracts are Enterprise Process Railroads

Enterprise processes are designed around existing units and capabilities, most of which are selected from within the enterprise. Each of the units and capabilities have their own existing set of functionalities. Most of these functionalities are (i) designed and optimized individually and separately, often before the new process is designed, further (ii) the functionality of other units and capabilities are generally taken as a given set of inputs and outputs, (iii) the units are connected locally in a point-to-point way.

This approach leads to a (i) lack of visibility across the process, (ii) duplication of work, (iii) propagation of errors, and (iv) need for reconciliation of events, all of which are costly.

Enterprise processes are generally designed around and connected through existing enterprise functions …

This is like the old wild west with townships connecting through messengers on horses …

As a simple analogy we think of this as a few townships across the old wild west, where the  governor of the state had a series of tasks for a number of towns across the state. To instruct each town on its task, John Wayne and his posse would mount their horses and head from town to town. As old westerns taught us there are obstacles along the way: (i) no one knew exactly where they were, (ii) the sheriff might need to send another posse to deliver the message, (iii) each town took the message that came from the town up river and handled it, so if a town along the way made a mistake, that mistake will repeat most of or all the way down river across the towns, (iv) likely the message that was received down the river would be different from the one the governor sent, which means sheriffs and clerks would need to convene at the state assembly to sort out their differences...

…  until railroads came along, and the future was forged ...

Railroads connected the towns as stations, and the train had folks on them who checked that a town has done its job, the train won’t leave a station until folks on the train were happy that the town has done its job and all agree, and finally when the train arrived at the final destination there is a full log of what happened when and who signed and agreed every step and every event.

… in our analogy the train cargo is data, information, documents and events ...

The governor can now send the message on board a train, (i) everyone knows where the train is, and (ii) the train won't leave a station until the town has done its job and folks on the train are happy with it, so the sheriff of each town knows when the train came and went mistakes are far less likely as folks on the train agree that the town has done its job before moving to the next station.

… the smart contract is the railroad,

the functions along the process are the stations along the railroad,

and the future of enterprise is forged ...

 

Smart contracts connect the units across the process and remove the friction between each of these functions, as well as providing full visibility, to all units, into the current execution status and data flows of the process. The whole itinerary is clear to all the participants and they are all aware of what has taken place and what is yet to come in the process.

You can find details of concrete products demonstrating the analogy and the benefits of smart contracts HERE.