For EASY Software’s Michael Reiserer, to really start digitally transforming organisations, we’ll have to better link related content
Content is at the core of every business process. It naturally follows then, that Content services and successful process digitisation have to be very closely linked.
But the real opening for transformation actually comes when data, drawn from multiple sources, can inform and trigger next actions. This is especially true when human involvement is strategic, rather than intrinsic, to a process—which also means AI (Artificial Intelligence) will likely play a much bigger role in digitisation than we’ve really seen so far.
Why? Because AI is so much better at working out connections between related data. It’s now getting to the stage when it can also recognise context and complete routine processes while flagging anything which seems out of the ordinary. Take a core business process, invoice approvals and processing; if you’re dealing with the same suppliers regularly, it will be relatively straightforward to teach the system to identify relevant documents, extract the relevant information and progress to payment without requiring that each single transaction is manually (humanly?) checked.
So—train the system to recognise the invoice cycle, the amounts involved, and to cross-check the billing with materials received, and (expensive) human involvement can be held back for managing exceptions. An AI-enabled system can spot a discrepancy and raise an alert, and another example of a process you could do something similar with is management of promotional materials in the automotive industry.
‘The first step is to be able to extract meaningful data from documents’
The efficiencies you’d get out of this are pretty self-explanatory, as work begins to flow more speedily and consistently and you are able to make better use of human skills. But improvements like this only work if there is good end-to-end visibility of content and all your data assets, and good quality and currency of that data. But absolutely, the good news is that once there is transparency, brands can start to join the dots, linking related information between systems to build up a holistic picture of what’s going on, perform smart analyses, and make better-informed decisions.
But how to get there? After all, the jump from traditional content management/business process management scenarios to all this is significant. The first step is to be able to extract meaningful data from documents, and the second is to be able to recognise and link this with other related data held in adjacent systems.
It is through interconnections and smarter process management that organisations can begin to make real breakthroughs with process improvement… not merely accelerating processes, or delivering them more cost-efficiently, but also creating scope for doing things in new and better ways, and delivering new experiences. And that could be for internal teams, for customers, or for suppliers.
Even better, once companies can extract data from invoices and combine this with information stored in other systems, or out in the wider world, they can start to make smarter buying decisions too, in line with internal KPIs. It becomes easier and easier to compare what you’re paying for utilities such as telecoms with amounts paid by other similar-sized businesses, for example. This, in turn, can be used as leverage to get a better deal with the relevant supplier—or go out to the market to look for a more competitive source.
When businesses become data-enabled and data-driven, the scope for creating new experiences is considerable. It is by unlocking data that visionary companies like Lufthansa are changing the game in their industries, for example.
Rather than try to predict and fulfil every possible new experience that customers, employees and suppliers might wish to have in their future interactions with the airline, Lufthansa has created a strategic project to provide open access to certain operational data so that external developers can take up the baton. As a result, it’s now starting to tap into a broader ecosystem of talent who may have bigger and better ideas for innovative new apps and value-added services that will enhance the Lufthansa brand in multiple ways.
Choose a content management partner who’s on the same journey as you
My prediction is that, within three years, intelligent data-driven processes will take care of most standard transactions, while people’s experiences of dealing with companies (whether they are customers, employees or suppliers) will become lighter, more convenient and more intuitive, all via whichever channel the individual prefers (desktop, mobile app, voice or web chat).
This doesn’t mean that you need to reach for the stars immediately. Rather, you should start mapping out a vision for data-driven transformation—one that can be delivered incrementally, as the business gains confidence in the possibilities and its ability to adapt the way it works.
At the same time, making sure your content management partner is on the same page. If they’re not, look to work instead with a software or integration provider pursuing its own data-driven transformation strategy and which can support your business as you both get there.
The author is Head of Sales and Digital evangelist over at EASY Software Germany
EASY Software develops smart, futureproof, open standards-based software solutions that optimise, automate and digitise business processes, taking full advantage of the latest technologies and the agility of the cloud