Communications and Automation, a Match Made in Indianapolis

Erik Linask : Convergence Corner
Erik Linask

Communications and Automation, a Match Made in Indianapolis

Have you ever wondered why it sometimes can take several weeks for your insurance agent, hospital, or some other service provider to respond to your needs? Most of you probably think it's because they are intentionally putting you off, especially if they owe you something. Or perhaps it's merely a question of being too busy. Probably not.

There's a very high probability that the delay is a result of poor workflow management. More specifically, there is more than likely a high degree of manual processing involved, where much of it could be automated. In fact, many customer facing processes could be -- and should be -- automated from their outset, regardless of how contact is initiated.


For instance, if a customer is filing an insurance claim, they might call their agent to start the process, or they might email the provider's claim desk, or they might even fax in their claim if they have had to the foresight to download the form from their Web site. Instead of relying on a manual end-to-end process that relies on the agent delivering a file to the appropriate office, where it gets processed (hopefully correctly), then passed on down the line, with several stops left before a check actually makes it into the outbound mail.


Yes, that may be oversimplifying the process, at least in some cases. But a standard process, or deviations from it, can largely be made exponentially more efficient through automation. In fact, it's safe to say that any multi-step, people-centric process can be made more efficient be leveraging communications systems to create automated processes.


That's what Indianapolis, Indiana-based Interactive Intelligence figures to deliver with its new IPA (Interaction Process Automation), the latest add-on to its popular unified communications solution, Customer Interaction Center.


You've all heard the term CEBP -- Communications Enabled Business Process --which injects multi-channel communications into the business process. IPA is the next step, CBPA (Communications Based Process Automation), which takes the same unified communications features and functions, and adapts them into business workflows.


For instance, going back to the insurance carrier, if a new policy request comes in from Arizona, the software seeks out the most appropriate agent to handle an Arizona policy. If that person is out, it knows to route the request to the next most appropriate agent. Or, if the task sits idle for more than a predetermined period, it does the same. In other words, IPA uses the same routing technology used for inbound calls for non-voice-based communications and tasks.


In other words, it places business processes onto the IP Communications system, not only creating a more efficient business, but also increasing the value of the communications solution.


Does it make sense? According to 87 percent of executives questioned, there is a relationship between communications and automation that can be exploited to create an operationally more efficient business, allowing companies to much more with their existing resources.


The next obvious step, since many of these processes that are being automated still rely on paper documents, is to integrate an electronic document management system into IPA. In fact, that is likely to happen within the next year, according to Interactive Intelligence's SVP of Worldwide Marketing --a reasonable expectation after the company acquired a 15-year-old document and content management business recently.

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