Smart Process Applications: built for change, people and processes

Craig Le Clair – VP Principal Analyst at Forrester Research
Craig Le Clair – VP Principal Analyst at Forrester Research

Smart Process Applications (SPAs) are part of a new generation of intelligent information applications. They use computer intelligence and AI (Artificial Intelligence) to extract context-relevant information from the content associated with a business process, and use it to select, modify or re-direct the next steps in the workflow.

In a presentation at the occasion of Kodak Alaris Information Management’s Global Directions event, Forrester’s Craig Le Clair, who is specialized in BPM (Business Process Management) and an expert in smart process applications, put SPAs in a context of business agility, disruption, document capture, Enterprise Content Management and Business Intelligence.

“Being good at what you do is essential but no longer enough”, Le Clair says. Enterprises need to be agile in two ways: awareness and execution.

Moreover, business agility requires excellence in ten dimensions that cover the entire enterprise.

Of the ten business agility dimensions, five are process-focused:

  1. business intelligence
  2. infrastructure elasticity
  3. process architecture
  4. software innovation
  5. sourcing/supply chain.

And it’s in these process-focused dimensions that the deployment of smart process applications (on top of awareness and execution in ECM, BPM and Dynamic Case Management) comes into play.

Forrester Research coined the term Smart Process Applications, calling it a “new category of application software designed to support business activities that are people-intensive, highly variable, loosely structured, and subject to frequent change”. Craig Le Clair is Forrester’s research expert in SPAs.

Smart Business Applications – reported experience with adaptive dynamic smart process applications – source presentation AIIM on SlideShare
Smart Business Applications – reported experience with adaptive/dynamic/smart process applications

In an interview, AIIM president John Mancini, referred to Smart Process Applications as the combination of cloud (SaaS), mobile, social and big data analytics that changes the nature of collaboration, making it possible for the first time to truly address all of the grey areas of our business processes.

AIIM also conducted research on Smart Process Applications. John Mancini wrote a blog post about the “Case Management and Smart Process Applications report”.

Some key takeaways (again, it covers both SPAs and case management):

  • 58% consider their case handling system to be vital or very important to their customer experience management. However, legal and regulatory compliance rank higher with 67% of respondents stating it is vital or very important for that purpose.
  • 22% feel that the successful outcome of their cases is being limited by poor IT support.
  • For now (data 2014), 7% are live with adaptive and intelligent workflows, with a further 12% experimenting. 45% are more likely to be using fixed workflows, and 36% have very few computer-driven processes.
  • Of those using smart applications, 41% have achieved successful outcomes, and 52% feel the results are promising but it is early days.
  • The biggest deployment issues are setting up the rules and handling difficult exceptions.
  • The main reported benefits are faster and more consistent customer response and faster end-to-end process times. Staff appreciates the flexibility, and adaptive systems make it much easier to respond to regulatory change.