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UC Mag
Paula Bernier
Executive Editor,

IP Communications Magazines

60 Seconds with Joe Staples
Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, Interactive Intelligence

Indianapolis-based Interactive Intelligence (www.inin.com) is known for its popular and well-established customer interaction center IP application suite. Now, its latest intriguing product, Interaction Process Automation, streamlines and accelerates business processes - along with employee productivity - to higher levels. To figure out what makes IPA so special, Yours Truly recently spoke with Interactive Intelligence's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Joe Staples.


RG: What was the driver for Interactive Intelligence to create IPA?


JS: First of all, we all know that different kinds of organizations share similar business processes involving such things as human resources, sales, marketing, service and support. With that, there are also business processes that are specific to each particular type of industry. Second, we noted that these business processes were becoming increasingly communications-enabled. Indeed, everyone now uses the Gartner Group term, communications-enabled business processes, or CEBP. Third, we became aware that, whether these communications-enabled processes involved contact centers, back office operations or work in the field, people were still a primary, integral part of each process, and people can bring about latency in processes, not to mention examples of human error. That's because, surprisingly, many of these processes are still done manually. People input data, print out pages, slip them in manila folders, put them in interoffice mail and drop them on people's desks. Some employees actually consider themselves ‘sophisticated' if they move from manila file folders to color file folders to keep track of things. When we ask these people about automation they already have, they'll say proudly that they can use a spreadsheet and email it from step-to-step, which means from person-to-person. But of course that's only the first phase of automation.


The reality is that there are many businesses that rely on manual processes, and those processes are inefficient and are filled with chances or possibilities of human error. After all, you can send something to the wrong person, or you may send it to the right person, but that person is out sick and you don't discover it until three days later. Or a claimant calls in and needs to know the status of something. How are you going to figure that out? So, there's a lot of latency and human error inherent in human-centric business processes, which incurs inefficiency.


Organizations have tried boosting employee productivity with innovations such as unified communications, but even the most advanced interface is still just an interface - people are operating it and are still ‘calling the shots', which means that latency and error will still exist and unified communications never actually delivers the hard ROI that everyone expects of it.


RG: So how did you compensate for "the human factor" in these people-centric business processes?


JS: Part of the answer came from business process automation. We realized that we could bring about a convergence of BPA and CEBP to yield a concept that is a step beyond either, something we call communications- cased process automation, or CBPA.


As the Yankee Group published in its report, "The Coming Shift from Contact Center Server to Anywhere Enterprise Business Process Controller," in January 2008: "We envision that business processes will be integrated into communications processes so that communications servers actually manage and control the process itself." Or, as Jim Burton of UC Strategies says, "The automation of key business processes is where enterprises will find the unified communications ROI they are looking for." We already had considerable expertise in the communications area in the form of our CIC-based contact center technology. We realized that we could take the functionality that deals with interactions in a CIC-based contact center and apply those tools to automate business processes in a centralized manner, thus moving beyond simple UC and leveraging advanced functions so as to have a quantifiable effect on a business or other type of organization. The incarnation of this CBPA idea is our Interaction Process Automation product.


IPA uses contact center-style queuing and routing to provide a flexible distribution of process work. It uses presence to indicate availability for a work assignment to speed processing time, and it has real-time supervisory monitoring to provide visibility into the step of each work process. VoIP provides location-independence, and everything is recorded for compliance and regulatory purposes.


Thus, CBPA and its embodiment, interaction process automation, squeezes costs out of critical business processes, reduces human error and decreases the time it takes to complete any given business process.


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