For the past three decades, organizations have invested heavily into core enterprise software applications like enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), and other transactional systems. The billions of dollars spent on these core transactional applications most certainly saved organizations money by helping to eliminate paper, reducing the amount of interactions by people and processes, and serving as a system of record.
Despite these cost savings, when we look around an organization today, we still see a tremendous amount of inefficiencies. Why is that? Given the changes in how organizations conduct business and the ways in which they interact with customers, the dynamics around many processes have become highly complex. Workers today leverage their expertise within a very dynamic, social, and mobile environment. This leads to activities that are very collaborative or that require human involvement which cannot simply be handled with systems that are geared towards transactional processes.
This doesn’t mean that structure can’t be put around parts of a process – it just means users may need to adapt to the situation based on the information being presented to them in order to complete a task or make a decision. This changing work environment is leading businesses and governments to invest in the next generation of packaged software applications that combine enterprise capture, business rules, business process management, event processing, collaboration, analytics, and the ability to deploy within the cloud.
In the recent report: “The Forrester WaveTM: Smart Process Applications, Q2 2013”, Forrester Research, explains this new generation of applications as “Smart Process Applications”. According to the report, “smart process applications are a new and emerging category of applications designed to help CIOs and their firms improve the effectiveness of their human-centric business activities.” The goal of smart process applications is to increase the productivity of people actively engaged in a highly collaborative business process or set of activities by connecting systems of record with systems of engagement.
While there are business forces driving this change, technology is also fueling the growth around smart process apps. Those forces include Cloud computing, mobile content access from anywhere, modernizing collaboration in the workspace, and new sources of data that lead to improved decision making. All of these technology shifts are driving changes in businesses today.
EMC has over 80 EMC Certified Solutions available today from EMC’s Information Intelligence Group (IIG), partners, and systems integrators, who have developed solutions that fit the definition of a smart process application. One example is the Beach Street Contracts Lifecycle Management Solution that delivers an end-to-end solution for automating processes throughout the contract lifecycle from creation or reception, negotiation and approval, contract renewal and closeout, and archiving. The Beach Street solution leverages the latest releases of EMC Documentum, EMC Documentum xCP, and EMC Captiva, to help customers make effective decisions and drive better business outcomes by managing the contracts process and drawing on information from multiple systems and sources.
Contracts Management is just one example of a smart process application, and there certainly are many types of vertical and horizontal industry applications involving collaborative business activities that can be classified as a smart process application.
In their recent 2013 Global Excellence in Case Management Award, the Department of Transport South Africa outlined how their application based on EMC Captiva and EMC Documentum xCP enables department staff to initiate cases electronically and automatically forward them to the appropriate employees or public officials for review and approval. They incorporate guidance and timelines into the workflow to indicate what the appropriate response options are and when a response is required, while users can append notes, comments, addendums, and signatures to support the workflow and enable future audits.
Smart process applications are primed and ready to address these collaborative business activities and processes that have largely been left untouched by earlier transactional systems. Knowledge workers are critical to the operation of a business, so it is important that we help them become more productive participants in their day-to-day business activities. That is where smart process applications will help them be more agile and make more effective business decisions.