DCM and analytics: Michael Dortch looks at the big picture

Editorís Note: In this Q & A, ebizQ contributor Alan Earls speaks with analyst Michael Dortch, who discusses his strategic vision for combining dynamic case management and analytics and offers advice for readers interested in trying the approaches together. Dortch is principal analyst and managing editor of DortchOnIt.com. This interview has been edited for length, clarity and editorial style.

ebizQ: Dynamic case management is a topic you discuss fairly frequently. What should people understand about DCM now?

Sadly, and what I find upsetting, is that I think there are a lot of misperceptions that are all too common. From the perspective of the user, the main thing about dynamic case management is that it really matters to them, or it should.

When I was a young analyst in the 1970s working at Yankee Group, the founder would tell us that in the previous year, stores like Ace Hardware had sold so many million half-inch drill bits. His insight was that not one of those buyers wanted the drill bit; they wanted a half-inch diameter hole. Similarly, when you ask voters whether they want higher taxes, they run away. But if you ask whether they want better retirement benefits, police protection or public libraries, itís a different story. It all depends how you frame the question.

In information technology, nobody says they want [enterprise resource planning (ERP)]. When you mention ERP, people run screaming for the exits. But if you ask them ďDo you want a more agile business that can be more responsive to customer and where your inventory is under control?Ē Well, it turns out everyone wants that.

Likewise, when it comes to DCM, practically nobody even knows what it meansóat least, not if you are one of the users. If you are a business decision-maker and someone mentions DCM, unless you are already in an industry that likes that termóhealthcare and insurance, for exampleómost of the time you will get about the same reaction as you would if you showed a dog a card trick. They donít understand it and they donít understand why it might matter to them.

ebizQ: So there is a real disconnect in terms of perceiving the benefits of DCM?

Yes, to say the least. That leads to a second question: What is it about DCM that vendors donít get? I think itís that someoneís customers, partners, prospects and competitors are not a case. They are people, and sets of people, and they want to be treated that way. That is one thing vendors really donít get. That is part of a common bottom line in discussing DCM. And that is the central core of what needs to be said about DCMónamely, in order to work it has got to be human-centric and process-driven. That observation is the linchpin of my campaign to improve DCM. It is something about which I will be blogging and yelling from street corners.

ebizQ: What about the role of analytics?

You canít do DCM without analytics. In fact, in a sense, DCM is really impossible without analytics. Thatís because itís analytics, the information about behaviors and actions, that tells you how to manage those cases.

Ideally, for dynamic case management, real success results directly from effective business processes that are informed and improved with real-life information. That includes information, behaviors and actions collected from the technologies that support the business.

So DCM presents both challenges and opportunities related to that. To succeed at DCM, you must do all those things. DCM creates a need for a business-driven, process-supporting IT infrastructure that lets you know everything you need to know, but it also creates an opportunity to go after the process of building that infrastructure. If you have been sitting on the fence, DCM creates a really strong potential point of leverage. So that is the opportunity part. The challenge is that you need to know what you are doing; you need to have a reason to pursue this.

ebizQ: How do you see people making all of this concrete and taking steps forward?

What users and vendors need to understand is that DCM is not a destination and not even a journey. It is ďalong the way.Ē It is a point along the way toward where businesses are collectively trying to get, which is to that place where every interaction with every customer, partner, prospect, or influencer is as good as it can be for that person and tells the business as much useful information about the interaction as possible.

In other words, the goal is to optimize every online experience. The term I have been using is "online experience optimization." I want every user experience to be incredible, no matter the device or connection type or who they are; whether [the experience] is through my call center or web site. Once it gets to me it is online and I want to optimize it to the business.

ebizQ: That gets back to your journey comment. So is DCM part of a larger process, in your view?

Right. You donít stop at DCM. It is a springboard to do larger business things. In part because so many of the relevant technologies are cloud-based, companies of almost any size can get started on the path tomorrow. They donít have to buy anything. They can assess and enhance, knowing about documentation and managing the relevant business processes. That is a good policy for many companies. It would help for them to go buy computers and software, but if you donít have that you can still start with a word processor and a web browser.

ebizQ: So how do you see analytic DCM shaping up relative to other trends and initiatives?

DCM involves my favorite technologies, things like cloud, information management, collaboration and so on. All these technologies, or sets of technologies, are tied to key business challenges, especially when you have got [various vendors] talking about making the enterprise more social.

If you arenít monitoring what people are saying about your company on Facebook, you have no idea why [you need] to become a social enterprise. When you learn more about this, then you have a context into which to put things like DCM, and then you have the hope for a focus that leads you to these larger business goals, which are basically to become a more social or socially aware enterprise.

READER FEEDBACK: In this Q & A, consultant Michael Dortch tells ebizQ: "You can't do DCM without analytics. In fact, in a sense, DCM is really impossible without analytics." Based on your experience with case management, do you agree? Either way, we'd love to hear your opinion. 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.

More by Alan Earls, ebizQ Contributor