MicroPact Blog

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2014: Can You Really Digitize a Process?

Data and Humans Remain Central to Improving Business Operations

Roger Hughlett's avatar

By: Roger Hughlett

November 20, 2014 | EventsCase Management/BPMAnalysts

Processes – from the very structured to those that may change on an hourly basis – drive much of what enterprises do today. Because our operations and the processes we use to conduct them are so vital, the idea of digitizing them is a very real concern and a very important opportunity for organizations looking to make the transformation to a digital business.

All this, however, begs the question: Can you really digitize a process?

Bruce Robertson, VP Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, believes organizations of all sizes can digitize processes. It’s not easy, but it can and needs to be done if businesses and organizations are going to truly realize their full potential. In his presentation at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo titled "What Does It Mean to Digitize a Process?" Robertson introduced a number of business case studies that showed how the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) is having a profound effect on digitizing processes.

He gave example after example of machines – from medical devices that monitor patient vital signs to micro-cameras that help visually diagnose a mechanical problem on a piece of machinery in the middle of the frozen tundra.

These two specific case studies and the rest of those cited in his presentation all featured the major benefit of using technology to free up workers to do what they do best. This concept reminded me of something John Dixon, at Gartner, said at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo. Dixon, attributing this to a conversation he had with a former boss who said of workers on a plant floor: "We pay for their hands, we get their minds for free."

Changing Processes

The bottom line: Digitizing processes means changing processes. And one way to change a process is to rethinking what that process actually is and why it’s needed. What does it do and why? It’s not so much about how the process is conducted as it is about the outcomes that the process produces.

At MicroPact, we’ve known for years that the process is not nearly as important as the information or data that is driving a particular operation. Is how you conduct an investigation into Medicaid fraud more important than the results of those investigations?

While Robertson jumped into the Internet of Things (all very interesting and potentially society changing for us all), I latched onto the idea of changing processes through redesigning the workflow through digitalization. And my line of thinking was given a vote of confidence when Robertson introduced Case Management as a prime example of the importance digitizing processes can have on operations.

"If we digitalize the process, we can support less structured work," Robert said. A digitalized process is better able to adapt and change as the workflow and other factors demand. A digitalized process also centers around the data or information that is needed in order to drive the operation to a successful outcome. For instance, a digitalized process for monitoring and collecting the vital signs of diabetic patients centers on the data. The process of managing background investigations is all about the information and supporting evidence that is gathered during the investigation.

Putting Data-Firstâ„¢

MicroPact’s Data-First approach to Case Management and Business Process Management (BPM) creates systems that are ideal for nonlinear business processes and case-centric workflows.

Most of what organizations do as part of day-to-day operations takes a nonlinear path from beginning to end. We see this in everything from human resources to insurance claims to background investigations. These processes may involve structured or unstructured data, but they always involve data, and that should lead you to consider a dynamic case management platform instead of a more traditional BPM platform.

To return to Robertson’s presentation, digital businesses need to have the ability to be flexible as well as rock solid. It’s a combination of both that will benefit the enterprise the most in the long run. To find out how the entellitrak platform provides the stability and flexibility a digital business requires to succeed, check out this Data Sheet or download a complimentary Gartner Research paper titled Critical Capabilities for Case Management Frameworks.

About the Author

Roger Hughlett was a member of the Marketing Team with MicroPact from 2013 - 2015.