Smart process applications, intelligent business processes, adaptive business process management – you may have heard such terms more and more in 2014.
And you can expect to hear a lot more of them in 2015 because they are all names applied to an emerging wave of applications that will pull context-relevant information from the content associated with a business process, and use it to select, modify or redirect successive workflow stages.
Case management has always been a challenge for most workflow systems, because they work best when there is a predictable path through the process. But, by its very nature, case management frequently involves variations to such processes that may only become apparent as the case progresses – and which require a high degree of adaptability in the workflow rules.
For many organisations, case-based processing makes up more than half of their main business processes. Applications can range from payment management, contract bids, claims handling and loan origination through to traditional healthcare, crime or legal cases.
And it is the increasing impact that case management is having on organisations’ customer service ambitions that make it especially relevant. We recently carried out a major research study of our members – the global information management community – to find out why. The research, Case Management and Smart Process Applications, looked at the adoption of adaptive case management, the drivers and early experiences of users.
The research showed that increasing customer expectation for speed of response is the biggest business pain point for those surveyed (44%), and dealing with unstructured inputs and connecting to key business systems is the next biggest issue (42%).
Download AIIM’s report on case management
Meanwhile, 46% reported that they are struggling to handle case-based processes through rigid workflows and inflexible ECM systems, 29% are using an ad-hoc collection of file shares and content stores, and 16% still have manual paper and email-based processes.
As part of the research, we asked respondents what experience they had in smart business applications. We found that 7% consider they have adaptive and intelligent workflows in live deployment, and a further 12% are experimenting.
We then asked what the outcome has been. Some 41% claim to have already achieved their initial objectives and a further 52% are seeing promising results – with only 7% reporting they are “disappointed”.
For such an early-stage technology as adaptive case management, these results are encouraging. Indeed, business users see myriad benefits from case management. Faster and more consistent customer response was said to be the biggest benefit, and shortening the end-to-end process time was also cited.
Flexible, rules-driven compliance processes can make response to regulatory changes much simpler and is a major benefit in finance and insurance.
As the importance of providing a good customer experience increases, so will the need for modern case management solutions.
Doug Miles is director of market intelligence for AIIM, the global community of information management professionals, and head of the AIIM Market Intelligence Division