It's not news to anyone who runs a business or works in IT that today, budgets are tighter than ever, and technology purchases have become limited to only the most critical systems and solutions. The solutions that are approved must be spare and offer a great deal of value to a company, and even work to help an organization actually reduce costs in other quarters. In short, they generally need to pay for themselves.
Automation software provider Redwood Software recently released the results of its 2010 IT Priorities study. The report was based on a survey of 347 companies in the U.S. and Europe. Sixty eight percent of respondents, all of whom worked in business process management, enterprise resource management or application architecture, reported being under pressure to deliver tighter applications and business process integration solutions that help add value without significantly adding to IT budgets. In other words, a majority of process management professionals today are looking for ways to extract more ROI out of existing assets. Gone (for the moment) are the days of installations of enterprise-wide, business-changing solutions, and instead companies are pursuing more narrowly targeted purchases that help companies improve their processes quickly and get more work out of the solutions and processes they have in place.
To help broaden the solutions offering in this targeted business process automation arena, unified IP business communications provider Interactive Intelligence recently introduced a solution to help companies facilitate what is being called “communications-based process automation” (CBPA). The module, called IPA for “Interaction Process Automation,” plugs in to Interactive Intelligence's (News - Alert) IP-based unified communications platform, Customer Interaction Center (CIC). IPA allows companies to use the multimedia routing and presence capabilities of the CIC platform as a framework for managing business processes: IPA essentially piggybacks on CIC's existing infrastructure and provides support for documents in a wide range of formats in addition to the multimedia contacts (phone, email, IM, conferencing, etc.) CIC currently supports.
To help companies make the most out of solutions they have in place, IPA offers insight into, and control over, business processes critical to operations. It keeps track of work, progress, people, skills, qualifications, availability and resources, and helps companies make the best use of those processes and resources by automatically prioritizing and routing work to the best qualified and available worker – regardless of location – for timely completion.
Through CIC's presence feature, IPA knows who and where those people are and delivers the work to them, eliminating delays, bottlenecks, replicated work and tasks falling through the cracks because employees all believe that “someone else” is attending to the problem. The process mimics the way that Interactive Intelligence's CIC platform handles calls: IPA has built-in re-routing and failover mechanisms that ensure tasks get handled properly. If an employee is unavailable to handle a task, IPA will know this from the employee’s presence and the system will automatically re-route the task onto the next available employee qualified to handle it.
Companies can use IPA to ferret out inefficiencies, then create and implement customized workflows based on specific business rules and employee skill sets that work better, faster and in a way that reduces errors and bottlenecks. In this way, IPA can help an organization increase its productivity by cutting the fat out of its processes and making the most out of existing resources, both technological and human.
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Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard