Communications has always been at the heart of business, but an exciting technology lets you integrate your business communication with your business processes in a far more powerful way, Communication Enabled Business Processes, or CEBP for short.
What is CEBP? Think unified communications (UC) with added intelligence, integrating tools such as Microsoft Lync with existing business processes and adding automation, cutting out the human latency.
To help explain the power of CEBP, I have put together a few examples from real customer experiences and scenarios.
From M2M to iPads in the operating theater, health professionals are embracing technology. Extension Healthcare’s Extension Engage helps harness CEBP for healthcare.
It works by constantly monitoring all manner of patient data and can automatically inform the closest available caregiver if it detects (or even predicts) problems.
If a patient is showing warning signs of a heart attack, the system knows where all the care givers are, and what they are doing. It then informs the nearest available helper and emergency teams. It does all this through an app all members of staff log onto and use throughout their shift.
Consider the work that the accounts department has to do to process every expenses claim, invoice, or order document. In many cases the team must seek approval from people inside the company before they can expedite any of these important tasks, and this can take time.
By integrating communications into account team’s workflow, much of the process can be automated. For example the system can automatically recognize an incoming claim and direct the task to the next available team member. It can analyze documents to see if they need authorization, in which case it sends an IM to the staff member noting this.
The system knows who is available because all staff register into the enterprise app at the beginning of their shift. That member of staff can then check the document and send through authorization requests to the relevant member of the team. This means the approval process can be completed within minutes rather than days.
Communications can even be integrated into processes on the factory floor, such as an assembly line. If the machine detects a fault, it can flag the problem up and alert the correct maintenance team. If help doesn’t come it will send reminders to staff and escalate the request.
In fact CEBP has great potential in many industries to automate and improve management of facilities including agricultural, energy and infrastructure locations.
Communications can even be integrated into business intelligence. These systems continuously analyze data from a wide range of sources in order to detect important events.
When these happen, it automatically selects the most appropriate people from across multiple groups and locations to invite into a multi-channel meeting in order to respond to those them.
For example, at a financial services firm the system might detect market changes and automatically alert both affected customers and their advisors, arranging immediate response.
Or manufacturing systems may identify quality control problems, alerting key staff to take action. Or retailers may be warned if inventory of key products becomes low, the system will alert responsible staff and – potentially – even be capable of ordering fresh supply.
The promise of CEBP is only available to enterprises that have adopted digital business processes. Those with paper-based (non-digital) systems will need to find a way to digitize to keep pace with CEBP-enabled competitors.
However, once CEBP systems are in place most enterprises should easily identify how to unlock hidden value for their business. Colleague Anthony Plewes has an insightful piece into building CEBP systems here.
Jon Evans is highly experienced technology journalist and editor. He has been writing for a living since 1994. These days you might read his daily regular Computerworld AppleHolic and opinion columns. Jon is also technology editor for men’s interest magazine, Calibre Quarterly, and news editor for MacFormat magazine, which is the biggest UK Mac title. He's really interested in the impact of technology on the creative spark at the heart of the human experience. In 2010 he won an American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee) Award for his work at Computerworld.