Editor’s Note: In this Q & A, ebizQ’s Peter Schooff speaks with consultant Stephanie Quick about trends and hot technologies in collaboration, social networking and dynamic case management (DCM). Quick, a frequent contributor to the ebizQ Forum, is the owner and managing principal of IQU LLC, which specializes in business process analysis and modeling. This interview has been edited for length, clarity and editorial style.
ebizQ: What are some current organizational trends in case
Quick: There are a number of them. The main one is providing a higher degree of customer engagement via the channels a customer wants to use. The second one is empowering knowledge workers to be innovators.
Then there’s moving the users away from being administrators of their task toward giving them more flexibility and time to invest in getting the work accomplished. Then there's addressing the changing needs of today's workforce, which is moving into more telecommuting and job-sharing.
And then, of course, you have people who are always on[line]. A large percentage of the workforce are the mouse-click, Internet-born generation who are [deeply] involved in connecting and communicating. And [another] main trend is improvement to workflow.
ebizQ: How exactly can collaboration help case management?
Quick: In a number of ways. It [transforms] the ad hoc work environment that so many of us have experienced to one of connecting and communicating—for instance, using an expert search to find others, whether internal or external, who have similar expertise. It’s also a means of providing immediate help [for solving problems].
Human interactions are a normal part of work. The synergy is there to bridge this natural part of work with a repository containing large amounts of data for the life of the case. For example, information that is captured during collaboration and saved as a record in the case can later be used in audits, analysis, information mining, determining patterns and trends and as a learning tool. Most of all, it becomes an asset to the organization.
ebizQ: What are some other key trends around collaboration, social media and case management?
Quick: There’s the development of apps that weave social media, collaboration and mobile technology software into the legacy application architecture. This goes to support the lifecycle of a case from end to end and [support] the ability to automate within the context of the case.
On the customer side, organizations are allowing customers access to certain case information, which they consider a “high touch” via the channels they want to experience, as I spoke about earlier. You see a lot of this with banks and the insurance providers. With some insurance providers, you can see your whole policy from beginning to end in any given moment, at any time of the time or night, as well as find [related] documents digitally.
ebizQ: What are some best practices to try, and things to avoid, in this type of social networking and collaboration?
Quick: We have to keep in mind that case management is an approach to improve how work is done. You have to find your processes, you have to understand them and make them efficient, and you have to have visibility into the processing landscape. And a lot of organizations are not [up to speed] with that, so they need to take a step back and make sure that is addressed.
You also have to acknowledge that all knowledge workers don’t work the same way. You have to understand how each one works, what the application requirements are, what the user requires from the application, who it is, what they do, what are their paint points. You need to take a historical analysis.
And, of course, rules for collaboration must take place in the context of case. Therefore, you have to have your governance and your controls in place. These are very important. If you take a management approach to implementing collaboration, social networking and case management, if you address some of these issues, I think you can manage risk.
ebizQ: What are some of the hot technologies in this space?
Quick: You have chat. Chat is very big. There’s video calling. You see a lot of the mobile technology devices, such as smartphones, MP3 players and tablets, that feature video calling and integration with social networks for the people that are always on.
You have call-based applications for sharing your documents, and you have the whiteboards and bulletin-board applications for brainstorming and hosting meetings, and you have the host applications for project management and collaboration, to name just a few.
And in each one of those categories there are choices, choices, choices, choices so it is becoming a lot more a collaborative environment.
ebizQ: What do you see ahead for collaboration, social media and case management?
Quick: Well, for those organizations that already have invested in BPM, there's a great opportunity for them to further their steps and continue to drive competitive advantage. I see [increased] visibility into tasks and the integration of data with a greater ability to monitor and measure the performance of process and deployment, which is good for understanding exactly what's going on. The connecting of internal and external customers to reduce the time in solving problems and making decisions—I see that as a big plus.
A lot of companies are extending additional partners and relationships locally and internationally and they need to make decisions on the fly. They need to be able to understand what's going on with the process, they need to be able to reach out and touch it just to keep it moving. So I see [companies using] collaboration and case management to help with those decisions.
About the Author
Peter Schooff is a former contributing editor for ebizQ, where he also managed the ebizQ Forum for several years. Previously, Peter managed the database operations for a major cigar company, served as writer/editor of an early Internet entertainment site and developed a computer accounting system for several retail stores. Peter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.More by Peter Schooff
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