Business processes and business communication are not just related issues, they are a single entity. Business communication takes place within the company as well as with the outside world and is always linked to a process. A request, a document, a report, an e-mail, a note, an EDI message, a webform or html webpage or even a phone call – all of this is business communication and part of a business process.
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is the technologies used to capture, manage, store, prserve, and delivery content and documents related to organizational processess.
A business event is the trigger for the business process and as a consequence a communication-flow is started between the actors of the business process. Some examples of business events where you can imagine the communication-flow are: a refugee arrives in our country or yourself asking the tax authorities for tax reduction or a customer applies for a loan or health insurance, or you claim money back for a car-repair of surgery or you sent in a request by phone or email for a statement overview (e.g. bank statement or utilities bill) or a company wants to open a bank account in multiple-countries, or you start a marketing campaign and follow-up the customers responses, and so on.
Is there a way to control all communication processes in a company? I’m talking about inbound (mail, e-mail, web form, phone) and outbound (high-volume and add-hoc personalized documents from different applications with information from different sources that has to be developed, produced, printed and distributed). Plenty of roadblocks are there to pass just think of the usage of different text formatting tools, interface mechanisms, output channels, platform dependencies, different document formats and above all inflexible IT-infrastructure and IT-departments. You may conclude with me that each developer, application and PC user is in a way its own document developer.
There is clearly a need to close the loop between inbound and outbound communication to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the business processes. The business needs to come back in control. For that we need to centralize the creation and management of content in such way that a consistent enterprise communication across all channels can be ensured and in the same time to improve business agility and time-to-market business has to become less depended on the IT-department.
In the SOA discussions there is a lot of talk about re-use of business services but the low hanging fruit is the introduction of a Utility-based infrastructure and Services for Business Communication and Processes. Those businesses that have stepped away from implementing fragmented solutions for inbound, outbound communication and have implemented a Utility-based infrastructure and Services for Business Communication and Processes will reap enormous benefits day in day out.
My next blog will explore further which requirements a Utility-based Communication infrastructure and Services should support.