Posted by: Adam Deane | 29/03/2010

BPM Communications

I’ve been playing lately with our new BPM Communications platform.
In a nutshell, it enables the workflow system to send voice messages, SMS & texts to the workflow recipients and get their responses.
BPM Communications
The scenario that I’ve been working on:
A timeslot in the medical consultant’s appointment diary becomes available.
A voice message, SMS & email are sent to the first person on the waiting list.
If they approve – the timeslot is theirs.
If they decline or don’t answer – the next person on the waiting list is notified.
The business pain: Lost revenue due to holes in the consultant’s appointment diary (people cancelling appointments)

The business value
Nowadays, employees are more mobile, more IT savvy, and expect to be able to access information from any place at any time, using their communication channel of choice. The business process can now use communication technologies to achieve faster response times.

Will it catch on?
BPM Communications is new. Those that believed that the likes of Twitter won’t work – probably won’t buy into the BPM Communications concept.
The technology is inovative, but some of the functionality that I’ve played with is cute and might be great for demos and sales, but I don’t know if it can be used in real-life scenarios yet.
For example: If there is an available timeslot, the system will ring you up, read out a message, and enable you to choose the response options. I don’t know how people will respond to machine cold calling them. Currently, people are used to calling an organization and getting a machine answer (“choose 1 for the support department, choose 2 for the sales department… or hang on the line…). I don’t know if people are ready yet for machines calling them..

Pros

  • Users can initiate interaction with the business applications, including a process or information request, by sending a message, browsing or dialing-in.
  • Provides a secured multi-channel environment for user-to-system and system-to-user communications through voice, instant messaging, text messaging, mobile browsing and email technologies.
  • The system is simple to use, easy to setup and easy to configure.
  • It integrates real-time communications into business applications and processes.
  • Requires no client installation or specific device.
  • Leverages communication standards such as SMPP, SMTP, Jabber, WAP, Voice XML, HTML and RSS

System Limitations?
Like all new technology, it still has a bit of tweaking to do.
For example: The system will tell you “Press or Say One to approve the appointment”. If you say the word “One” it recognizes the command. The downside – If you have background noises (you are at the train station or in a noisy office) the system will ask you “did you say three”. Funny…, but still needs to be nailed..
Learning curve – Responding to a SMS: send “10.1” for approve, send “10.2” for decline. Not too hard to learn, but still requires teaching the end users how to use it correctly.
Authentication – Responding to an email requires authentication. If you are in the organisation or the domain – not a problem. But if you are responding from a Blackberry – it asks for the username and password (bit of a hassle..)

Developer Limitations?
The administration and configuration is easy to do. The tricky part is creating more complicated voice messages. I now need to learn yet another development language (something like VoiceXml). Although it not complicated – it’s not something a business user can do.

What’s missing?
Although the new technology is great, most of the customers are asking for the ability to approve/decline from their Blackberrys.
Most of our customers use Blackberry and are asking for the ability to, not only receive the message/task, but to be able to approve/ decline and add a comment. I haven’t got a stable solution for that yet due to technical limitations (security, authentication, downloading an “app” to thousands of the company users is not feasible… ).

The new BPM Communications technology is innovative and fun. It might take a bit of time for it to catch on – but it is the future.


Responses

  1. This could definitely catch on. See my post about my recent problems with a missed flight (http://www.column2.com/2010/02/bad-processes-great-service-makes-up-for-a-lot/), including the pointers at the end of the post where I discuss the potential for using SMS or other mobile communication to automate some of the very manual processes.


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