DCM and analytics: Better together—and better for customers, too

Among the hottest trends in dynamic case management (DCM) today is the idea of enhancing DCM’s task-management capabilities with the power of analytics. “This is a pretty new area,” concedes consultant Fern Halper.

On the other hand, some early adopters have experimented with combining the approaches for three or four years now, says Halper, a partner at Hurwitz & Associates, a strategy consulting, market research and analyst company. For instance, one pioneer in the education industry has combined DCM with analytics to help identify “at-risk youths”—that is, potentially troubled teenagers.

“He was using analytics with a text-analysis engine to go through the structured and unstructured data in documents, email, reports and notes, and whatever else was in the [case] file,” she explains. Using natural language, the analytics technology parsed sentences for patterns that might offer insights about the young people in question.

NEW HORIZONS FOR DCM AND ANALYTICS

Now, with the market poised to move out of that early adopter stage, the marriage of DCM and analytics appears to be offering new opportunities.

For instance, Halper says, in organizations that use case work to handle customer problems, analytics can be used to keep everyone better informed. In a busy environment where many people may be calling or e-mailing with complaints, not every agent will hear about every issue. That’s where analytics can help.

By analyzing notes, emails and other documents, analytics can help highlight problems common to multiple cases, clients or customers. “In the case of a call center, you could actually start to see a trend revealing what customers are calling in about,” she says. “If enough people talk about the same concern, the analytics will spot the pattern.” Armed with that information, customer-facing employees can quickly tailor appropriate responses.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF VALUE

Analytics in DCM work differently than search analytics, where you’re typically looking to find the proverbial needle in a haystack: the occurrence of a term or a character string in a quantity of data. In the kind of analytics deployed with DCM, “the software can do some of the thinking for you,” Halper says. For instance, it can pick out recurring patterns and bring them to your attention. Ultimately, she says, “it’s really more of a discovery process than a search process.” And that, of course, is exactly why it can be such a valuable adjunct to DCM.

Halper says there are examples across industries where DCM and analytics could add value. “If content is a key component for decision-making, then you can use this to target cases for detailed review,” she says.

For instance, case managers in social service agencies might harness analytics for DCM in much the same way as that education-industry pioneer did. “Caseworkers are often overwhelmed with work. Individual workers may be observing similar or related things, perhaps in [one particular] neighborhood, but aren’t likely to find the time to talk about it,” she says. “Analytics can help to sift through the records they produce to identify at-risk individuals or other challenges that merit attention.”

Consultant and author James Taylor, CEO of Decision Management Solutions, says analytics can also be helpful for identifying fraudulent claims and accurately estimating the risk associated with particular cases. Other industry observers note that analytics in DCM can also be crucial for trying to meet the requirements of service level agreements, where, of course, good information is crucial.

MULTIPLE CHOICES

At this point, many analytics applications for case management are “bolt-on” additions or designed to address specific business problems. However, building analytics into a DCM system is getting easier, with some solutions promising complete or near-complete functionality right out of the box.

“But there will still be work to do,” Halper cautions. To make the most of analytics in case management, you’ll also need to engage the right people with appropriate skills or invest in training the ones you has got.

Still, the effort will be worthwhile, she says.

“I did a survey on text analytics and one question I asked is; ‘Are you going to be using content management and text analytics?’” Halper says. The majority of respondents said “Yes.” The reason: They want to understand all the content that’s sitting in their systems. As Halper notes: “It’s a huge source of potential insight.”

READER FEEDBACK: Have you combined analytics and case management specifically to improve customer service or address customer problems? ebizQ's staff would like to hear what you did, how it's working and what you'd recommend to others who are considering doing the same. Please e-mail Site Editor Anne Stuart at editor@ebizq.net.



About the Author

Alan Earls, a journalist who specializes in writing about technology and business, is based in the Boston area.

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