Content is at the core of every business process these days. That’s because there’s genuine scope for transforming and radically upgrading the customer experience when data, drawn together from multiple sources, is turned into an input to inform and trigger a business action. That’s even more useful when it allows human involvement to become strategic rather than instrumental.
Artificial intelligence, in the form of neural networks/machine learning technology, offers a lot of potential here as a way to trigger that. That’s because of its ability to discern connections between related data, recognize context, and complete routine processes while flagging or escalating anything which seems outside of the ordinary.
Take a seemingly basic process such as invoice approvals and processing. Train the system to recognize the invoice cycle, the amounts involved, and to cross-check the billing with materials received, and expensive human involvement can be reserved for managing exceptions; i.e., for those occasions when dates or figures do not tally, or there is no record of goods having been ordered or received.The move from traditional content management/business process management workflows scenarios to these Al-based benefits is a significant one. Nonetheless, it’s not a huge effort for organizations to realize. Click To Tweet
In such cases, the AI-enabled system would spot the discrepancy and raise an alert. As a result of this kind of very practical AI-powered automation, work begins to flow more speedily and consistently, and so the business is able to make better use of precious human assets.
New, better CX
The move from traditional content management/business process management workflow scenarios to these Al-based benefits is a significant one. Nonetheless, it’s not a huge effort for organizations to realize. It means first that the organization needs to be able to extract meaningful data from documents, and second, it needs to be able to identify and link this information with other related data held in adjacent business/customer systems.
It is actually only through this integrated and smarter process management approach that organizations can initiate the real advances with process improvements – not merely accelerating processes, or delivering them more cost-efficiently, but unlocking the capacity to offer new and better experiences, for all your key stakeholders.
This may appear lofty, but we’re actually referring to very practical problems. In the highly competitive retail world, let’s consider the example of a major retailer, whose brand differentiation depends in part on its particular blend of products from both big-name brands and niche small suppliers. Those smaller suppliers may be more vulnerable to cash flow problems, therefore relying on customers to pay promptly. Yet niche vendors are also the most likely to submit paper invoices, even handwritten paperwork, which is not as easy to process by electronic accounts payable systems.
This can cause delays in authorization and processing, threatening supply and straining critical relationships, especially if the retailer’s reputation becomes tarnished, because of these slow payments. A smart invoice processing system will really help here, as it can recognize all forms of invoice and extract data reliably from them, ensuring that everyone in the chain from maker to buyer is treated fairly, and reputations and relationships remain intact.
Once companies can extract data from invoices and combine this with information stored in other systems, or out in the wider world, they can make smarter buying decisions too, in line with internal KPIs. It also becomes easier to compare what you are paying for utilities with amounts paid by other similar-sized businesses, for example. This intelligence can be used to navigate a better deal with a relevant partner, adding yet more value throughout the business ecosystem.
Large enterprises may have huge resources at their disposal for optimizing procurement and performing detailed business analytics. But smaller organizations tend to have fewer people and resources to draw on, and turning regular business documents and transactional information into strategic intelligence can be extremely empowering for these companies.
It can also help to inform better decision making, by providing proper evidence-based cases for decisions. And when businesses become data-enabled and data-driven, the potential for creating truly innovative experiences is significant.
Testing the waters
Yet organizations do not have to go this far to exploit the broader benefits of process transformation enabled by more connected and intelligent content and data handling. In fact, it is a much safer bet for companies to start small in their ambitions to become smarter and more data-driven businesses, experimenting with the possibilities in a discrete area of their operations. If not invoice management, then HR content and process management, or contracts management.
Focusing in one defined area, companies can determine the possibilities for smart automation and digital self-service, and build confidence, so that they are later able to try bolder transformations, such as creating new value-added services and business models. To maximize your chances of success here, consider content/digital process management platforms that support multi-channel experiences, allowing different kinds of users to access and interact with the information and micro-services they need, wherever they are and whatever device they are using.
Instead of a prospective business customer having to fill in a form to request a call-back from their supplier, the supplier makes it possible for them to enter the request straight into an individual’s online calendar. Finally, don’t delay process digitization projects, as organizations risk being overtaken as their competition roll out new and better brand experiences, from faster and more responsive versions of traditional services, to pioneering new self-service apps.
Our prediction is that within a short time, intelligent data-driven processes will handle the majority of standard transactions, while people’s interaction with firms (whether they are customers, employees or suppliers) will become more light touch, slicker and more natural – via whichever channel the individual prefers to engage on.
This doesn’t mean that organizations need to radically overhaul their processes and technology infrastructure instantly, but rather that they should embark on the process of sketching out a goal for data-driven transformation. It should be one that can be carried out gradually, as the business gains assurance in the possibilities and its ability to alter the way it functions.
Ensuring any content management partner is on the same journey is crucial too. That means finding a technology or integration vendor which is following its own data-driven transformation approach and which can support the organization through its journey. This is the way data can really do what you want it to: improve the stakeholder experience.
Michael Reiserer is Head of Sales at EASY SOFTWARE Germany
EASY SOFTWARE develops smart, futureproof, open standards-based software solutions that optimize, automate and digitize business processes, taking full advantage of the latest technologies and the agility of the cloud.