by John Mancini | 9/24/14
The customer is and always will be right. This old adage is as applicable to business now as it ever was. But the digital age and the use of social media has given consumers power they could only have dreamed of decades ago. They can share their experiences and praise or criticise brands to potentially millions of people around the globe. This open and direct dialogue has forced companies to look carefully at their Customer Experience Management (CEM).
AIIM’s latest Industry Watch, Case Management and Smart Process Applications (SPAs), puts case management under the spotlight and looks at how it can enhance CEM and what enterprises should look for when planning to deploy a case management system.
The Emergence of Smart Process Applications (SPAs)
Smart Process Applications (SPAs), Intelligent Business Processes, Adaptive BPM: these are new types of applications that basically use computer intelligence to extract context-relevant information from the content linked with a business process, and use it to select, modify or redirect the next steps in the workflow process. In essence they systemize so-called human-centric business tasks. One of the main applications is case management. Applications here can range from payment management, through to finance, healthcare and legal. Finding the right system for the job, however, can be a daunting task.
Case management dialogue with business processes management
Case management has always been a real test for any BPM or workflow solution. These systems work to full capacity when there is a predictable path through the process to follow, with straightforward qualifiers such as order value or bank loan amount thrown in. To run efficiently they need true flexibility built into the workflow rules.
This is highlighted in the research undertaken for the AIIM Industry Watch: of 51 percent of the organizations we polled, half or more said their business processes are not straightforward or predictable. Only 37 percent have a case-capable support system, whereas 28 percent said they need to use customizations, workarounds and add-ons to handle case scenarios. Surprisingly, 18 percent still use an entirely manual process, and 17 percent don’t really manage cases as processes.
In some organizations, dealing with cases is key to what they do, but in others there may be lots of straightforward processes working alongside, and these may run quite contentedly on the standard workflows provided in most document management, ECM, or scanning and capture systems.
From our survey it is easy to glean that some enterprises are utilizing several systems to deal with different case applications. Some of these are working better than others.
Early adopters collect a gold star
For enterprises thathave taken a leap of faith, the rewards are starting to roll in. According to the enterprises we polled, 41 percent have achieved successful outcomes, and 52 percent feel the results are promising – but it is still early in the deployment cycle.
For an early-stage technology, these results are really positive. Users are seeing the benefits of case management too. Faster and more consistent customer response was cited as the biggest benefit — a crucial element in today’s competitive social media-driven business environment. Shortening of the end-to-end process time was also seen as a real benefit, helping customer service and making cost savings.
The best approach
Case management systems don’t normally operate in isolation. They need to be connected to email systems, often to capture front-ends, and also to some form of records management, although as we have seen, none of these are a given in the majority of enterprises. Connection to transactional line-of-business, ERP and finance systems is also important, especially for payment and contract processing, but also for many other tasks where customer data and case content need to be accessed together.
Case management has a broad range of applications beyond conventional healthcare, crime and social administration. Active, adaptive or smart business processes are, as we have seen from our survey, already producing good results for early users Managing input across multiple channels and directing it automatically to the case file is the biggest need, but automated classification into records archives is also high on the agenda.
Cloud or hybrid cloud can make the external workings of case applications much easier. This will also underscore the mobile roadmap for mobile devices to interact with each other as part of the arrival of the Internet of Things, a market which analysts are estimating will be worth nearly $10 billion by 2020.
Firstly you need to look at your BPM and workflow potential and monitor how it works with predictable business processes and case-based processes. If your system has uncompromising workflows it may hobble case management. Customization may be a way forward, so look at what add-ons or alternative solutions are available. Ensure that you look for smart or adaptive capabilities that monitor content as well as process context to redirect workflows within rules based or compliant scenarios to get the best results.
Encapsulating multiple case-handling tools from other areas of business into a single system could potentially boost productivity, especially in tasks such as contract management, for example. In addition, always use the best monitoring, analytics and alerting tools to make sure your system is running at full capacity.
There is much talk about the importance of case management to business and the role it plays in customer experience management. Sixty-one percent of our survey respondents agreed that intelligent automation is the only way to improve both productivity and service levels, and 57 percent were keen to try out smart business processes. So it seems that as the importance of providing good customer experience grows, so will the need for solid, well-thought-out case management systems.
John Mancini is an author, speaker and respected leader of the AIIM global community of information professionals. He believes that in the next five years, a wave of digital transformation will sweep through businesses and organizations, and organizations now face a fundamental choice between information opportunity and information chaos.
AIIM’s John Mancini believes that there is real value to be gained from content analytics – both in business insight and risk mitigation. But enterprises need to have a well-thought-out strategy in place to gain the biggest advantage.