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IBM Advanced Case Management


At the IBM Advanced Case Management event in San Francisco today. Mike Rhodin, SVP of the newly formed Solutions Group within IBM Software, introduced the role of Advanced Case Management in Smarter Planet.

Smarter Planet is IBM’s umbrella concept for building systems to add intelligence to an increasingly instrumented and interconnected world. The changing kinds of solutions that this approach develops (like an intelligent transportation system for a city) means that just buying a packaged solution isn’t going to work. IBM sees a shift in customer buying behavior as a result – they no longer want to buy monolithic packaged solutions yet they don’t want to go back to custom SI projects either – they want a balance. To create these integrated solutions you need a collection of assets and frameworks organized around industries and business outcomes. IBM is trying to create reasonably repeatable, yet flexible, systems using this approach and sell them to line of business executives (solution-focused) rather than to IT. Across these frameworks IBM is starting to see a standard collection of components that go into every one. A substrate of middleware is in all of them, and IBM wants to harden and integrate this set. Other elements appear in many frameworks but not all and IBM wants to make these standard across the frameworks. Advanced Case Management is one of these.

Case Management across industries varies by the type of case in different industries – invoices, contracts, projects, complaints, change requests etc. These have different timelines, different numbers of collaborators and so on. Yet a common set of capabilities around content management, rules, analytics exist and this is what IBM is trying to harden and package. After a great video case study with Zurich Insurance talking about their use of case management, Ken Bisconti (VP ECM Products and Strategy) took over to drill into the details.

Case Management is not new for IBM or its customers and it is an area where IBM feels it has a strong portfolio of products with plenty of customers. However, the changing environment means that new capabilities are required. Knowledge workers in all industries must do more with less (limited resources need to be applied effectively and, I would add, basic decisions need to be automated so they don’t need knowledge workers) while their employers improve service at a lower cost. The environment in which these folks work is more complex with more information, more communication and collaboration tools, more of a focus on exception handling (thanks to automation of basic processes) and continued regulatory issues. Smarter decision making, using business rules and analytics especially predictive analytics, is becoming increasingly critical within and around case management processes. Ken defined case management like this:

  • A solution pattern
  • Collaborative and ad-hoc processes
  • Event driven, knowledge-intensive
  • Content and judgment not just regulations is critical
  • Outcomes are goal-oriented and processes are not fixed

As a result you need a collection of content management, BPM, collaboration, social software, business rules and analytics to make this work well. In particular the recent growth of rules and analytics in decision making, especially micro decision making, within case management.

IBM’s new Advanced Case Management takes a very case-centric approach as you would expect, focusing on designing case applications, case templates, a 360 degree view of the case etc. This is built on a platform that handles content, events, workflow, rules, collaboration, social software and analytics. The product pulls these elements together to support structure and unstructured activities and to provide trusted information for cases. The platform is designed to make it possible for vertical/domain experts to extend the platform to specialize it for particular solution spaces and so take advantage of the IBM partner network.

IBM sees multiple paths to evolve to this approach, starting from ECM software like FileNet to manage the content of a case or BPM software like WebSphere for routing and orchestration, even collaborative tools like Lotus Domino or enterprise applications. Each path involves adding some of the capabilities from other areas as well as bringing in analytics and business rules across the board.

A panel of customers (from a variety of industries, all good names) discussed their use of IBM’s advanced case management capabilities. Some key thoughts/statements:

  • Lots of different starting points for folks on the panel
  • Processes are assets – culture shift to invest in business processes and manage ownership of it
    And I would add that decisions should be managed this way also
  • Need to bring unstructured content into the modeling environment so that predictive analytics can use unstructured and structured data
  • Business rules embedded to mange work allocation and to make business decisions – process rules and decision rules
  • Eligibility is critical in lots of case management processes and this is clearly a place where rules can play
  • Compliance important for process steps followed, content used/managed and decisions made/rules executed
  • Lots of interest in turning data into insight using analytics, especially predictive analytics e.g. in onboarding

Will be back with some product information.


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