One way to trace human history is to follow the evolution of work.
First came the artisan, who labored over one pair of shoes at a time, basically an ad hoc process. Next came the Industrial Revolution, with its standardized parts and repeatable processes, vastly improving productivity but at the expense of variety. More recently, the norm has been adaptable processes, in which the same people and equipment can be adapted to provide more variety. But the adaptations often come slowly and are fraught with both process design and execution risk.
Now there is a new game in town: intelligent processes, which have been made possible by the explosion of digital technologies, and which are set to reinvent much of the way that businesses are run—in as soon as the next five years.