Still Optimizing Business Processes After All These Years

By Laurence Hart posted 04-05-2012 10:38


At 11am Eastern today, AIIM's tweetchat returns, reincarnated. Formerly the ECMJam, it is being rechristened as InfoChat. This isn't just a random change. AIIM is a Community of Information Professionals. Not just Content, but Data and all the technologies that help today's Knowledge Worker to have what they need to be productive.

Of course, today's chat coincides with the annual rite of Baseball's Opening Day. Those that know me know that I always spend the day with friends watching games and generaly celebrating the return of the Boys of Summer.

This all means that I'm going to miss part of the chat, so I'm sharing my answers to the announced questions now and will participate if my "busy" schedule permits.

The Topic: How Social, Local, and Mobile tools are Revolutionizing Business Processes

The Skinny: A couple of decades ago, scanning and digital Content repositories initiated the revolution. However, we've stalled. There is still a lot of paper and projects still fail. New technologies are arising that can add more efficiencies while simultaneously changing how we do everything.

1)  What impact does paper still play in business processes today?

Too much. It should be a convenience for those that prefer to read something on paper due to eyesight or mobility. With the advent of tablets, reviewing content on the go is easier to keep digital. The two things holding us back completely? Trust in digital signatures (the CYA effect) and form factor. If people can't read it easily on their device displays and readily take notes, they will print.

2) What new technologies are changing how business processes are automated?

As I said before, tablets can change everything. Though that example just showed how convenience printing may be reduced, enabling processes to be completed when people aren't at their desk is important. This isn't working at night, but working when you are at an off-site, conference, or your bus is stuck in traffic. Smartphones also can do this, but to a lesser extent as the ease of reviewing information is harder on a smaller screen.

That said, the proliferation of cameras on all these mobile devices offers us an ability to change the scanning paradigm, but more on that in the next question.

3) How can you improve business processes using capture on a mobile device?

If everyone has a phone, why do we have to provide large amounts of scanners? Yes, there is potentially better quality and OCR technologies are better integrated at this point, but I don't need either for receipts. Sometimes, the image serves as evidence and these things aren't needed. Take expenses. I only need the receipt as proof. They are likely only reviewed randomly, when the totals look incorrect, or if I develop a reputation for errors. Mobile capture allows processes to not get stuck while someone looks for a scanner, which is likely back at the office. It is very practical as well since it enables periodic process participants to capture documents w/o having to provide them equipment.

4) What role can social media tools play in business processes? Are they parallel? Baked-in?

Nothing new. Collaboration has been around for a while but the tools weren't widely spread. The spread of all these Social Media tools makes the ability for people to collaboration digitally outside of email (a widely misused communication tool). If these tools are implemented as part of the processes, these collaborative interactions can be captured as part of the history, providing more context process.

5) What extra challenges are there automating the collaborative business processes of knowledge workers?

Not everything is a defined process. There are common approaches, but many things vary from activity to activity. Social Media tools can help collect and document these processes. From there, some standard processes can be defined but not always. The real key is to get the knowledge worker collaborating in the organizations systems and not doing everything on their laptop or around the water cooler.

....And that's it. I hope to see you at InfoChat shortly and I look forward to reviewing the transcript.

Play Ball!!!

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