Although it is yet to make an official announcement, Interactive Intelligence
has revealed that its new business process automation solution, Interaction Process Automation
(IPA), is now generally available.
The new offering -- a module that plugs into Interactive Intelligence's (News - Alert) Customer Interaction Center
platform -- facilitates what is being called “communications-based process automation” (CBPA). Basically it enables companies to use the multimedia routing and presence capabilities of the CIC platform as a framework for carrying out routine, “people centric” business processes.
IPA, which has been in developpment for two years and has gone through sucessful trials with several Interactive Intelligence customers, includes support for documents in a wide range of formats, in addition to the multimedia contacts (phone, email, IM, conferencing, etc.) the platform supports currently.
The concept is this: Much the same way a contact center agent can route a call or other contact to any designated end-point throughout an organization, based on pre-defined rules, any worker (or automated system) in any department can use IPA to automatically route documents to any other end point on the network. What’s more, the same automated re-routing and failover mechanisms found in the contact center apply: For example, if a worker is unavailable to handle a task, at any given time (as indicated through their presence), the system will automatically re-route that task onto the next available employee who is qualified to handle it.
One way to think of it is “piggy-backing” business processes onto an IP communications platform. Another way to think of it is integrating the features and functionality of a unified communications system with those of a business process automation system.
Company officials claim this new offering is ideally suited to automating routine “people centric” business processes – such as the processing insurance claims, loan applications, student registrations, requests for government services, order discount approvals – just about any routine process you can think of that involves paperwork and people can be automated using IPA. The goal isn’t to take the people out of the processes -- rather it is to streamline and speed processes, as well as to give managers increased visibility into processes.
One of the main advantages of IPA, Interactive claims, is that it enables companies to unify their business processes with their communications processes – up until now these have traditionally been “siloed” systems. By having both on a single platform, companies will be able to make a direct correlation between all the events occurring inside the business, as they occur.
For example, the phone call placed and recorded as a part of the processing of an insurance claim can be combined with other customer data, such as the online forms which the customer has already filled out (and which have perhaps not yet been processed) into a single, common process. Furthermore, just like how customer information can be passed along from agent to agent in the call center each time a call is transferred (thanks to the power of IP), all data is automatically passed on, point-to-point, to each employee responsible for carrying out a specific task in the process chain.
As such, the software gives managers the ability to create and implement customized, 'communications-based' workflows based on specific business rules, as well as employee skill sets. Perhaps most importantly, the solution helps drive increased productivity, as workflows become more efficient and streamlined. Interactive Intelligence claims that with this new offering, organizations will be able to harness additional power out of their UC systems to drive new levels of efficiency and productivity.
In addition, managers and employees gain better visibility into business processes, with the ability to get detailed status on any project, in real-time, as well as detailed reports that will enable managers to track the productivity of all employees (not too unlike how a call center manager tracks the productivity of agents). As such, the system will enable managers to perform proactive monitoring and quality management of business processes.
With this new offering, Interactive could potentially significantly broaden its customer base. Providing IPA is successful, the company could become known for more than just contact center and enterprise phone systems it currently sells. What's more this means Interactive could find itself going up against the likes of Oracle (News - Alert), SAP, Savvion the other major business software vendors -- something which the company certainly can do, since it has already been selling contact center and telephony systems into the enterprise space for more than a decade now, and has a very established and loyal customer base.
In a recent survey of CIOs and IT leaders conducted by IDG Research in conjunction with CIO magazine, 87 percent of respondents said they saw a “clear relationship” between UC and business process automation, with 50 percent stating that they believed communications technology could effectively be used to automate business processes. Interactive Intelligence certainly hopes this research is accurate, as it is banking on the success of this new offering, with the hopes that it will bring the company to the next stage of its evolution.
To learn more about Interactive Intelligence’s new Interaction Process Automation solution, check out this recent podcast with senior vice president of worldwide marketing Joe Staples.