I just spent the last several weeks circling the globe, speaking to customers about their critical needs and our vision for the future. One of the things I noticed was customers were universally surprised that we have done so much in the area of Case Management with our heritage so deeply rooted in Enterprise Content Management (Documentum). “Case Management is about process and workflow,” they would say. Close, but no cigar. I believe effective case management is about connecting People, Process and Information with information being the “driver” of the process.
For the unfamiliar, the simple way to describe Case Management is that its goal is to improve business efficiency and decision-making by automating and monitoring case-based processes. Case-based processes are everywhere in business and often drive the most critical front-office activities. Unlike transaction processing where virtually every transaction is handled within software, case-based applications are much more dynamic. They require a mix of automation with human interaction and the overall process is driven by information. An easy example of a case-based application is claims processing in insurance but there are literally millions of potential applications. From getting a dog license to courts case management – case-based applications are literally everywhere. Unlike transactional applications (CRM, ERP, etc.), they do not cluster around back-office functional support applications but tend to focus on the actual service and/or revenue-facing business functions.
OK, that’s the Cliffs Notes version. You can read up on case management elsewhere if needed.
To me, the more interesting discussion is how an application can be information centric. Let’s take a simple example. Say a company wants to improve the way customer complaints are handled with the goal being to both improve customer satisfaction and reduce the internal operational costs. If we look at this from a pure process perspective, the idea would be to simply create an efficient complaints process and to automate to as great extent as possible. It sounds reasonable but the “one size fits all approach” might not be the right choice here, even though this is largely how business has largely been done.
Looking at this from an information perspective, the idea is to adjust and accelerate the decision making process based on the information. The process becomes much more dynamic or “intelligent” if you will. For example, the application might look for certain keywords in the complaint to route it to the proper organization; it also might identify the customer to determine how much they have purchased and then set a priority queue. In these cases, the information dictates the process further improving both efficiency and effectiveness of how work gets done.
I believe that Enterprise Content Management actually provides a foundation for Case Management applications in a way that can change the game in terms efficiency and effectiveness of these applications. Just like in most areas, the most successful are not those with lots of data but those out can turn data and information into knowledge.