When it comes to the decision-making process, Coach Jimmy Johnson has some good advice. He says, “Give people enough guidance to make the decisions you want them to make. Don't tell them what to do, but encourage them to do what is best.” This is a philosophy I really like and try to employ in my daily life. There are times in business, however, where the decision-making process can be enhanced and automated, like the routine and mundane task of classifying and categorizing content.

    In the multi-dimensional world of enterprise content management (ECM), we can review organizational processes and content types and develop an enterprise-level strategy to capture, categorize and classify information automatically, directing it to the proper repositories and notifying those who need it. Where once a human would carry out this function, we can now set up machines to manage the bulk of it and have humans manage exceptions.

    There are many opportunities to leverage recognition, auto-classification and analytics technologies to enhance and streamline the capture process. In case management, profiles can be set and used as the identifying marker for inbound information. Analytics can be used to match inbound information to the case profiles and direct that information to the case worker. I know I am making it sound simple, but when all is said and done, the results can reap great benefit.

    Consider this
    Most information used in business today is born digital, whether through a productivity app, email or other means. So when I talk about capture, it is not just scanning paper; it is also the capture of digitally born information. This digitally born information can reside anywhere, including on social media sites. When we expand use of search and analytics software, we can monitor internal and external sources for relevant information, capture it, classify it and bring it into our knowledge base.

    I know, this sounds like Big Brother, or what we see in the news about governments monitoring social media, but in business, it can be of benefit as well. Think about an unhappy customer who tweets dissatisfaction. I did this with an airline—one of which I am an elite member. I was not happy about the number of gate changes being made on a particular day. I tweeted it, and the next thing I know, I was called to the counter, given an apology, awarded points for the inconvenience and was told this was the result of my tweet. I then tweeted a thank you. Monitoring information, analyzing it and taking action is key to businesses of all types.

    What to think about
    Look at your business processes and content types. Document how it is captured, categorized, classified and added as part of your knowledge base. Look for opportunities to eliminate the human interaction using technology and save the human interaction for exceptions rather than normal processing.

    Leverage analytics to enhance the decision-making process, not only to capture and store but reuse and direct for appropriate actions. It might be aligning inbound information to a case profile or social media with customer service. Whatever the case, explore the options to create a dynamic content and information-sharing environment rather than a static repository or, as some refer to it, a digital warehouse.

    In my view
    Automated capture and the use of analytics can provide great benefit and enhancement to the decision-making process. Redirection of vital business information for action is essential to success, productivity, growth and even compliance. We have seen what automation can do in manufacturing plants and are now beginning to realize the benefit that can be gained through automation of business and decision-making processes.

    It is not an easy thing to accomplish, requiring planning, focus and hard work to get there, but in the end, the results can often outweigh the effort. Pick an area of your business, and begin the process of assessing how automating capture, categorization and classification can help in managing and streamlining that part of the process. Consider the use of analytics technologies can help further identify vital business information, bring it to light and interact with business processes for redirection and reuse. Information valuable to one case worker may contain vital information for another in a different department. Unless the second case worker is made aware of this information, it is of no value. Analytics can help in identifying this information, match it to the other profiles and share it, automatically.

    Decisions must be made every day. The best decisions made are those made based upon the most relevant, up-to-date and accurate information sets available. While humans can carry out this process, machines are much faster, more consistent and, in some cases, more accurate against the business criteria. It is possible: You just need to take the first steps.

    Bob Larrivee is director of custom research at AIIM and an internationally recognized subject matter expert and thought leader with over 30 years of experience in the fields of information and process management. He is an avid techie with a focus on process improvement and the application of advanced technologies to enhance and automate business operations. Follow him on Twitter @BobLarrivee.

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