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IBM Advanced Case Management Technology


After the intro on Advanced Case Management, a more technical session. The idea, Carl Kessler says, is to take all the technology IBM has and create a real improvement in their case management capabilities. Carl explained how IBM takes what they see industries and customers doing and capture storyboards for these different scenarios like new physician credentialing for a hospital or unemployment benefits approval in a government agency. These storyboards drive development. and Carl walked us through one such storyboard – unemployment benefits.

The storyboard showed how background tasks might be run before routing the claim to a knowledge worker (identify verification, collecting related information) – though I wonder why the storyboard would not include a first step with more automated decisioning as lots of the decisions being assigned to the case worker can and should be determined with basic business rules management. Anyway, moving on the storyboard showed how a knowledge worker should be able to dynamically add new activities. The case worker does not need to assign these activities, just define them, and the system routes them effectively.

It was nice to see that the storyboard includes an automated step to score the claim to see if it is  fraudulent (using SPSS and its automated scoring/decisioning capabilities) though I would have liked to see the score be included with eligibility rules and just say “she is eligible for X benefit”. The focus, though, is on case workers so the ability to see interesting documents and decide that new activities should be triggered (such as a concern that the person applying might have been illegally terminated) quickly. These activities might be handled by other people, including some who might not be part of the core department such as legal, driving a need for collaboration. All the activities, of course, become part of the record including chats with team mates, scores, notes typed etc. This is essential for records retention and audit but also creates a record for future analysis.

Finally the managers view of all this was walked through. This was dashboard-centric, reporting on multiple programs and pulling everything together. This environment should allow the manager to drill into results, slice and dice the data available to see what can be learned. Part of this cross-case analysis involves structured data about the cases but part should also involve analysis of the unstructured information. Management of complex case management environments needs this kind of holistic overview.

Carl went on to show how all of this might have been defined by focusing on the role of the business analyst. The business analyst can start from scratch, start by cloning an existing solution or by using an existing template. This last scenario should be the most common, with business partners providing these templates for very specific solution areas. Having selected a template the next step is to define the kinds of cases involved. The cases involved lead into the roles, document types, forms, reports and rules required.  These can be defined as part of the template and added or extended by the analyst. If a new role is added, then activities can be reassigned etc. An analyst can also manage the activities directly, easily changing preconditions, documents and other inputs.

Overall an interesting storyboard but not clear how much of it is ready to go.

Carl was joined by a panel to discuss IBM’s approach to ACM. The panel was Karen Parrish, VP Industry Solutions focused on vertical frameworks, Beth Smith, VP WebSphere including ILOG and Lombardi, Graham Mackintosh, Cognos Product Strategy and Innovation, Mary Beth Raven, Lead User Experience Designer for Workplace/Portal/Collaboration tools including Lotus. Critical thoughts from this panel:

  • A consistent theme was that Advanced Case Management includes all the products that are needed, regardless of how they report inside IBM
  • Social collaboration, live links to people’s names, collaboration within your own context is important – don’t make people change applications just to collaborate
  • In-context access to all the analysis capabilities of Cognos is critical – not just pictures or summaries. Indicative of the degree to which IBM wants ACM to pull things together
  • Want to make case management easily available to people using other products, so someone using Cognos can spot something odd (potential fraud, say) and kick off a case to investigate
  • IBM sees its obligation to make more of its products work together  better and share underlying technology to deliver capabilities like ACM
  • Analytics has a role within a process – helping make better decisions by delivering “decision-ready” information (or better yet, in my opinion, decision-ready insight) and helping improve the process by providing an overview of the process
  • Text analytics could also improve unstructured activities like email – detecting, for instance, who might have action items within an email thread.
  • How do all the new mobile technologies affect this, change collaboration, change content
  • Designed all this with partners in mind – ISVs, regional SIs, those with vertical/domain expertise

Great session but not enough on the roadmap. Let’s see what we see.


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