I recently finished reading Moneyball, the Michael Lewis bestseller and slightly above-average Hollywood movie. It struck me how great baseball minds could be so off in their focus on the right metrics to win baseball games. And by now you know the story — paying too much for high batting averages with insufficient focus where it counts —metrics that correlate with scoring runs, like on-base percentage. Not nearly as dramatic — but business is having its own “Moneyball” experience with way too much focus on traditional metrics like productivity and quality and not enough on customer experience and, most importantly, agility.
Agility is the ability to execute change without sacrificing customer experience, quality, and productivity and is “the” struggle for mature enterprises and what makes them most vulnerable to digital disruption. Enterprises routinely cite the incredible length of time to get almost any change made. I’ve worked at large companies and it’s just assumed that things move slowly, bureaucratically, and inefficiently. But why do so many just accept this? For one thing, poor agility undermines the value of other collected BPM metrics. Strong customer experience metrics are useless if you can’t respond to them in a timely manner, and so is enhanced productivity if it only results in producing out-of-date products or services faster.
DocuSign, the best-known software-as-a-service (SaaS) brand for electronic signature, just received 47.5M in additional investor funding. According to execs, this will help accelerate growth internationally and include a UK-based data center as well as further internationalization on the signing capability. When signing documents in China, it is more than just a nice feature to have native signing and sending instructions.
The injection will also help build out more industry solutions and take on more of the complete transaction — something that will be required for long-term success for the e-signature market. As part of the investment, Kleiner Perkins' Mary Meeker will join the DocuSign board. Formerly of Morgan Stanley, Mary is well versed in mobile, Internet, and cloud-based markets, and may help cultivate partnerships with emerging lighter file-sharing and cloud-based content solutions — a natural trajectory for e-signature platforms to jump on their steep adoption curves. On the heels of Adobe's acquisition of EchoSign, this shows acceleration of the e-signature market and is consistent with adoption Forrester is seeing driven by mobile and customer engagement trends.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.