KANA To Acquire Sword — Gets Serious About Dynamic Case Management Market

KANA Software is acquiring Sword Ciboodle — a Scottish case management and BPM company and a strong performer in Forrester's 2011 Wave™ on dynamic case management. The Ciboodle platform has a strong presence in the service request area of case management and scored particularly well in the application development, automation, and event management criteria. It also proved you can build best-in-class software while headquartered in a Scottish castle.

The acquisition makes a lot of sense. Both companies circle around the customer service area — with KANA focusing on the self-service channel with advanced email and knowledge strategies that leverage the social channel, and Voice of the Customer text analytics. All with the goal to reduce service costs by having customers help themselves — without going crazy in the process. But KANA had very little in contact centers themselves. Sword plugs this gap with over 50 customers in contact centers that use BPM and case management to provide a process layer on top of systems — where green screens are not uncommon. But Sword had virtually nothing for the email and self-service channels.

Together the acquisition will free up KANA's R&D. Instead of beefing up core BPM and case engines, and internal enterprise social capabilities, it can now focus on mobile apps and enhancing overall outside in "listening" capabilities. Geographically the acquisition helps as well. KANA was 70 percent North American, but with the addition of Euro-centric Sword is now closer to a 50/50 split between North America and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

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Enterprise Social, Meet Dynamic Case Management

I must be direct. I never got the hype about social business process management (BPM). Sure, it's great to collaborate better when creating process models. No group could use more help communicating then the process geeks that do this work. And I used to be one. And leveraging social data — voice of the customer — as input into transforming processes. Well, isn't this the whole point of "outside-in" process transformation? So who can argue with that. But here is my twist on this which I am researching now —which means I really don't know anything yet. I think the killer combination is enterprise social platforms and dynamic case management. The former is a much discussed area today, and why not? (Our guy Rob Koplowitz BTW has written some geat stuff in this area.) Enterprise social serves goals like innovation, collaboration, and workforce productivity that few can argue with. Yet real productivity has to connect to core business processes and enterprise social has yet to do that. At the same time, growing interest in dynamic case management, to reform and transform processes, continues, with a growing interest in providing stronger human connection at scale — and this is where the two can help each other. We are seeing a pendulum shift toward people needing a more "localized" and human experience to increase overall happiness (one happiness index for US residents peaked in 1956). Bottom line: we believe companies will be evaluated — brand-wise — on a fourth dimension — a human and "feel-good" dimension — not just on price, intimacy, and service. I want to examine the link between these two growing areas and take a deep look at the trajectory of these emerging areas and review the enterprise social plans of primary case management providers, but more importantly find some companies actually exploiting both.

Dynamic Case Management — Do Enterprise Architectures Realize The Potential?

The answer is a simply no. I’m finding that enterprise architectures are not well-grounded in this emerging area. Many enterprise architects, and particularly those who focus on business architecture, think that dynamic case management (DCM) is a newfangled marketing term to describe an old, worn-out idea — a glorified electronic file folder with workflow. Yes, enterprise architects can be a cynical bunch. But DCM goes far beyond a simplistic technology marketing term — it’s a new way of thinking about how complex work gets done, and often enterprise architects are so consumed with technology planning that they may not see new patterns of work emerging in the business that require new ways of thinking.

“Dynamic” describes the reality of how organizations serve customers and build products in a world that is changing constantly. If you doubt that assertion, think about volcanoes disrupting airlines, oil rigs exploding, product recalls, executives being investigated for fraud, new healthcare legislation, or more common events such as mergers and acquisitions. Most knowledge work requires unique processing, and processes need to adapt to situations — not the other way around. For enterprises, DCM provides a transformational opportunity to take the drudgery out of work and enable high-value, ad hoc knowledge work — much as enterprise resource planning (ERP) did for transactional processes. And, in fact, our research points to a growing use of DCM to add agility to systems of record including packaged apps and legacy transaction systems.

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Big Data, Analytics, And Hospital Readmission Rates

The US government will start tracking hospital readmission rates. Why? Because we spend some $15B each year treating returning patients. Many of these would not need to return if they followed instructions — which involve meds, follow up out patient visits, diet, and you get the picture. To be fair, it's sometimes not the patient's fault. They often do not get a proper discharge summary and in some cases they are just not together enough to comply. They may lack transportation, communication skills, or the ability to follow instructions. Doesn't it make sense to figure out those at-risk patients and do something a little extra? It does. No question. And translates to real money and better care, and this is where big data comes in — and it's nice to see some real use cases that do not involve monitoring our behavior to sell something. Turns out — no surprise here — the structured EMR patient record, if one exists, is full of holes and gaps — including missing treatments from other providers, billing history, or indicators of personal behavior — that may provide a clue to readmission potential. The larger picture of information —mostly unstructured —can now be accessed and analyzed, and high-risk patients can have mini workflows or case management apps to be sure they are following instructions. IBM is doing some great work in this area with the analytics engine Watson and partners such as Seton. Take a few minutes to read this article.

Will Humans Make A Comeback In Customer Processes?

We all feel the  loss of human connection due to relentless automation, the emerging behavior of Digital Natives (who prefer online interaction to direct human interaction), and the inability of current systems to support “personalization at scale.” So I’ve been wondering whether we will start to see real pushback against the straight-through and self-service procesees we endure daily — what I am calling “faceless” processes. In short, we are starting to see inklings that the pendulum is swinging away from faceless processes and a back toward more personalized human-driven interactions.

There are a few things that seem to  point in this direction, such as community banks taking customers from the big guys, or the well-documented hatred of foreign call centers and voicemail hell. An “I’ve had enough” shift is also advanced by more vocal consumer attitudes — witness, for example, the recent consumer pushback on debit card fees. The question is, will we start to see companies start to differentiate based on injecting humans back into the process? Does social have a role to play here? And is there a way to measure whether this is actually happening?

Stuck In Cement: When Packaged Apps Create Barriers To Innovation

My “Stuck in Cement” research is up on Forrester.com today. I have to say, I really wrestled with the title. It’s just incorrect to say “stuck in cement,” because technically cement is only the active ingredient and needs to be mixed with sand and water to make concrete. So it should be “stuck in concrete,” although somehow this doesn’t quite sound right. But really, who but a chemist would lose sleep over this or even catch the distinction? The real issue is whether packaged apps really are a barrier to innovation at this point — or does our research just reflect the high level of frustration that our clients feel trying to manage technology in a world changing so quickly?

The basic idea is that industry-specific or packaged apps — and these are currently mostly on-premises applications — aligned with organizational silos have worked well for well-defined, highly structured processes where volume, scale, and straight-through processing dominate system design. But these apps are difficult to change, appear increasingly less relevant, and form a barrier to innovation for companies in fast-moving industries like energy, healthcare, and financial services now facing advancing consumer technologies that threaten business as usual.

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Kofax Buys Singularity: Investing In The Growing BPM And Dynamic Case Management Markets

Kofax is the latest investor in the BPM business (and for Kofax, this means capture-driven BPM). What Kofax has envisioned for more than a year is now reality. The first step will no doubt be to link the Singularity BPM platform with the capture process and lift data that is then filtered and cleansed and move it to straight-through processes. This provides a lighter-weight approach; for some processes, this will bypass the packaged application or ECM platform. Yet more automation leads to more challenging exceptions — and the more we move to STP, the more those exceptions require case management handling and even more serious human intervention. That’s where Singularity’s case management platform will help; Singularity was a Leader in the 2011 Forrester Wave™ for dynamic case management solutions. Overall, there is a lot to like here. Rather then partnering for BPM, building from within, or trying to leverage 170 systems more fit to purpose workflow, this investment shows that Kofax understands that the real customer value is in process transformation rather than in supporting tasks like capture or document management. More tactically, Singularity fits well with existing Kofax SharePoint solutions. But the real synergy is around distribution: Singularity, as a private company based in Ireland with $15 million in annual revenues, suffered from poor recognition in the bigger markets. Now the 700-plus Kofax partners around the world could change that, and quickly, although not all of the partners may be up to the task. Kofax’s recent investment in MobiFlex, which has mobile technology for capturing PDFs and rich media, can also be tied to capture and now case management apps. Overall, there are many positives to this, and I don’t see a lot of conflict with the recent

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Lexmark Joins The BPM And Dynamic Case Management Markets

Lexmark International acquired Netherlands-based Pallas Athena and will combine the company with its recent acquisition of Perceptive Software, a fast-growing ECM provider. Together this is a very complete software unit for the ECM, BPM, and dynamic case management market. Pallas received good reviews well in the recent Forrester Wave™ for dynamic case management solutions and has a strong overall BPM technology. North American exposure, and distribution in general,  was the big issue. Perceptive had an easy-to-deploy workflow management solution but lacked case managenent or extension beyond departmental applications. Combining Perceptive and Pallas Athena should should work well. The challenge and potential is to create synergy and focus with Lexmark’s growing managed print services business — which means focusing on office document automation that supports the knowledge worker.

The Five Tenets Of Business Processes In 2020

We are seeing  firms migrating away from traditional IT-centric approaches. Why? They have to: Customers are now empowered — and companies are not. So you have to ask yourself a few questions:

  • How long will packaged apps survive?
  • How long will it take before customer engagement wins out over the desire to control?
  • How do enterprises prepare to move to a federated deployment approach to meet process goals?

Federated deployments grab best-of-breed functions from the app Internet and SaaS-based solutions and use emerging technologies like dynamic case management, analytics, and collaboration. Figuring out how to implement these types of deployments to meet the business process needs companies will have in 2020 requires Big Thinking — and we will be addressing this as one of the main topics of discussion at Forrester’s Business Process Forum next week in Boston.

Adobe Enhances E-Signature Position With EchoSign Acquisition

Electronic signatures are gaining momentum and becoming an increasingly popular topic of discussion among Forrester clients. In retrospect, today’s e-signature users will be seen as early adopters. And in 10 years, the dominant form of signature will be digital, with adoption driven by rampant uptake in consumer technology — particularly mobile applications with embedded signing authority. It’s a vision that helped push this SaaS-based acquisition — but it’s only part of the story. Today, many vendors integrate with Adobe LiveCycle, which has a digital signature available in its Forms product. Adobe Forms has a strong signing capability, but did not provide a well-integrated platform  for handling documents or executing agreements, including such functionality as hierarchical signing, embedded PKI support, separate forms management, adding fields at the time of signing, or electronic evidence. These had to be developed with other LiveCycle components, such as BPM, or with other e-signature solutions such as those from Silanis, DocuSign, and ARX.  As it’s Monday morning, I’ll make it simple. Until the EchoSign acquisition, Adobe allowed you to send a form for signing — but had limited signing applications out of the box. Further, EchoSign is a hard-charging company with a SaaS solution that emphasizes simplicity, but it did not focus on IT buyers and had fewer authentication options. This acquisition is a great fit for both: Adobe will provide more solutions capability and IT focus and gets a full e-signature application. Initially, EchoSign will be part of Adobe’s online document exchange services platform and be integrated with Adobe’s SendNow for FormsCentral for form creation.