Additional information about Action Technologies is available from their website (www.actiontech.com).
Some of the current workflow technologies deal with business processes, either of input-function-output type or of language-action type. Action Technologies Inc. (ATI) has established itself as a leader in the language-action type of process; this approach makes explicit the intentional human actions that lead toward the satisfaction of human requests, giving a way to manage and track them toward completion. A scientific literature is building around this kind of process, and case studies are beginning to accumulate demonstrating that technologies to help manage such processes yields measurable improvements in productivity.
Flores and Winograd (1987) proposed an approach to coordination based not on the exchange of signals or messages but on the networks of commitments people establish and move forward through their intentional speech acts. This theory holds that work consists of the fulfillment of human commitments and that coordinative processes consist of intentional actions by humans leading to the completion of work. An important distinguishing aspect of this interpretation, compared to most CSCW systems, is captured in the word "intentional". What we often call coordination among machines or software systems is often little more than exchanges of signals following certain rules (protocols), but machines have no "intentions". This distinction is vital. To ameliorate crises that arise in thwarted human intentions or unfulfilled human expectations, we need tools that explicitly help humans manage the intentional acts that advance their work.
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