I’ve just finished up several months of research digging into the best practices of how leading organizations aspire to implement outside-in, customer-focused, cross-functional processes that transform the organization and set it on the path toward continuous improvement. I found that these companies are moving from isolated business process management (BPM) and/or front-office customer relationship management (CRM) projects toward broader transformation initiatives across the organization. At the core of this trend is a desire by these organizations, especially in services industries, to domesticate their “untamed” or “invisible” processes that touch customers.
My report on the best practices for process-centric CRM will be published soon. A key finding is the growing convergence of data-centric CRM, BPM, and dynamic case management (DCM) solutions. The right mix of these solutions, of course, depends on the use cases you are designing for. For example:
- BPM vendors focus on customer-facing process management use cases. Pegasystems, a leading BPM vendor, has long focused on CRM-type use cases through templates as part of its Customer Process Manager offering. In 2010, it acquired Chordiant to beef up its decision management tools to help companies analyze data from many customer touch points so that they can understand outcomes and apply rules to improve each interaction. Sword Ciboodle (formerly Graham Technology) is another BPM platform vendor that has focused on multichannel customer management processes for years — primarily in the customer service and inbound/outbound telesales areas.
Appian reports an increasing number of customers using its BPM platform to support complex customer service scenarios. Cordys Software provides an open BPM platform for customers to build highly customized solutions for service requests, managing incidents, and, investigations. numero claims to deliver a best-of-breed, enterprise-class, multichannel customer interaction management solution called “numero interactive.” The solution delivers a single agent desktop built on a strong BPM and content management platform.
- Case management vendors spotlight the management of dynamic processes. Case management vendors like Singularity (acquired by Kofax in December 2011) have zeroed in on organizations that need to improve untamed processes though DCM solutions, particularly for customer service call centers. Metastorm acquired by OpenText in early 2011, makes it possible for customers to purchase leading solutions in enterprise content management (ECM) and BPM from a single vendor.
- CRM vendors incorporate BPM capabilities into their solutions. NexJ Systems, a CRM solution that specializes in financial services sectors like wealth management and insurance, finds that customers value its ability to integrate with legacy systems and process management capabilities to support end-to-end process use cases such as customer onboarding. CDC Pivotal CRM, a long-standing Microsoft technology-centric CRM solution, has a very flexible core platform and architecture that lets organizations tailor the CRM software to fit their unique business needs. SAP offers standalone BPM software capabilities that complement SAP CRM. Similarly, Oracle, over the past few years, has focused on unifying different BPM assets acquired from BEA Systems and Collaxa. Oracle BPM Suite 11g represents the culmination of bringing these different products together. Salesforce.com offers its Visual Process Manager and is contemplating how to further strengthen the BPM capabilities within its Force.com platform.
The NICE SmartCenter unified suite of workforce optimization products and business solutions maximizes the value businesses generate from their communications with customers by helping companies manage interactions across all communication channels and in real time. KANA offers service managers the ability to design and orchestrate service experiences and listen to feedback to continuously improve service in a model-driven environment without any need for coding or changes to source code.
- Leading systems integrators staff up BPM practices. Cognizant Consulting has long had an integrated customer solutions practice comprising strategy and technology implementation capabilities for marketing, sales, customer service, master data management, and BPM — with a focus on helping clients deliver a differentiated customer experience. Cognizant maintains the largest group of professionals to implement Pegasystems solutions in the consulting industry. Accenture also maintains a global BPM life-cycle practice and has published extensively on BPM best practices.
HCL’s customer solutions group (C2SG) practice has a strong focus on customer experience design and uses the Pegasystems framework to develop solutions for clients seeking to create differentiated customer interactions. Customer Effective, a Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner, uses Microsoft CRM platform in combination with core Microsoft tools like SQL Server, Windows Workflow Foundation to address clients’ process management and data integration needs.