Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) are transforming entire industries. According to a June 2023 McKinsey report, generative AI has the potential to add $400-$660 billion annually to the retail and consumer packaged goods industry alone.
One source businesses are currently tapping to find these massive gains is that of business process improvement and efficiency. As a direct result, intelligent business process management (iBPM) has emerged as the next frontier of business process management (BPM).
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iBPM vs. traditional BPM
Traditional business process management is the practice of evaluating and optimizing individual processes in order to achieve the business goals of improving product development, customer experience, and operational efficiency. Businesses implement it as a single-platform solution through which most aspects of business operations can be integrated and automated.
iBPM is the combination of traditional BPM software with newer technologies like cloud computing, an advanced user interface, and AI — specifically its robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning (ML) components — in order to achieve BPM goals.
The power of iBPM: key benefits and innovations
Because AI is the biggest allure of iBPM, the “intelligent” attributes it provides stand out to business leaders seeking new ways to streamline and simplify business operations.
The speed and accuracy with which it analyzes unstructured data is where iBPM shines, so organizations that don’t receive or process data in large quantities may find that a traditional BPM platform works best for their needs.
iBPM delivers four main benefits which we explore below, as well as the technological innovations that make those benefits possible.
4 iBPM benefits and what makes them possible
|The benefits||The technology|
|Iteration, or the continual repetition of a task, is a powerful functionality of iBPM. Bots that understand and continually analyze unstructured data are invaluable to businesses with large amounts of customers and varying types of data.||RPA software robots are a key aspect of AI technology. They can perform tasks (like filling in forms and extracting data) quickly and ceaselessly. They’re easy to implement, build, and use, making them a star of recent technology.|
|Collaboration between many people dispersed across the globe, be they clients or co-workers, has moved from a benefit to a necessity for many businesses. Cloud-based iBPM tools allow for collaboration via most mobile devices from just about anywhere.||Cloud computing uses servers, apps, and development tools for hosted services and computing resources via the Internet. This allows mobile access to the platform, nearly unlimited data storage, and extra data security measures.|
|Predictions and recommendations based on analysis of entered data make iBPM a must-have for a number of industries. Banks leverage this capability to detect fraud. Healthcare providers issue faster, more accurate diagnoses and improve patient experiences.||Machine learning is one of the jewels in the AI crown. It processes entered data (or input), analyzes it, and continually makes predictions and recommendations (or output) based on detected patterns and inconsistencies. It doesn’t just “learn” — it mimics the ways humans learn.|
|Accessibility is an asset of iBPM tools. Those tools are designed for employees and stakeholders who don’t have previous coding knowledge or IT training. This reduces user training time and IT workloads.||BPM elements of iBPM join with AI to provide fast data analysis and convenient interfaces, including dashboards, for ease of use. Employees are empowered to build their own workflows using simple drag-and-drop tools and visual workflow builders.|
Examples and applications of iBPM
In the present state of its development, iBPM technology is best suited for a) speeding up and accentuating existing workflows, and b) connecting systems that utilize both structured and unstructured data. Let’s take a look at ways in which businesses are leveraging iBPM for customer satisfaction, time and cost savings, and previously unheard-of system integrations.
Chatbots are the most frequently used iterations of iBPM. They consist of software designed to imitate human conversation. Recent cultural buzz has shifted them from the status of “fad” to that of “game-changer.” Businesses are harnessing their power, accuracy, and ease of use both internally and externally in a couple of ways.
Chatbots are a convenient means to answer questions in a thorough, timely manner, at any time of day or night for a consumer base accustomed to quick service responses. They’re especially helpful for customers who have frequently asked questions and common issues. On the other side of the service desk, Chatbots free up IT specialists to focus on value-driven work like app development and system security.
The technology behind chatbots is quickly evolving. Their latest phase? Performing automated tasks. They combine machine learning with highly advanced automation capabilities to not only recognize human language, but use it as a trigger to perform actions like scheduling appointments, sending emails, and even building processes on demand.
Intelligent document processing (IDP)
IDP is an increasingly popular form of iBPM. It leverages the power of cognitive AI to analyze unstructured data from many source formats, including emails, hand-written notes, and images, while actively capturing and extracting information from them.
IDP is the next step toward the total elimination of manual data entry, providing massive time and cost savings. The ability to digitize paper documents is not new, but IDP’s speed and accuracy via the integration of innovative hardware — like optical scanners — is.
A recent crop of integration platform as a service (iPaaS) providers have emerged as effective iBPM solutions. iPaaS is automation software that uses connectors and rules to integrate apps, systems, and data for businesses. It can clean and transform data into formats like XML, free up IT teams’ bandwidth, and allow smaller organizations to pass security ownership to a third-party vendor.
iPaaS solutions are especially useful for handling B2B data flows securely across multiple platforms without the need for custom integrations. That multiple-platform integration capability includes cloud services, as well — both private and public. The time-saving potential of performing different business operations simultaneously within separate cloud services is significant.
Overcoming challenges in iBPM implementation
Like any newly introduced technology, IBPM implementation may not go entirely smoothly — at least not at first. A few of the challenges businesses can experience in this endeavor are as follows:
Resistance to change
An overhaul of work duties and responsibilities can be daunting; some employees may feel insecure at the prospect of learning new software. Others fear that their jobs will be made obsolete by new technology, especially when they hear the term “AI.” Those whose current processes are ineffective or difficult to navigate may cynically pre-judge the new system.
To allay uncertainty, answer all employees’ questions, give them as much information as possible about upcoming changes, and demonstrate that the C-suite is optimistic about results. Most importantly, provide customized training for each employee on the new platform. They’ll soon realize that most workers are starting from the same learning level and that their work lives will be improved by the new system.
Setting the wrong KPIs
When many outfits are in the implementation and training stages of new BPM tools, they may not yet have a firm grasp on the specific performance indicators (KPIs) to set in order to measure success. They tend to focus on individual processes that don’t have strong connections to overall financial and customer experience goals.
In addition, businesses updating current solutions to iBPM have sometimes already made deep-rooted operational changes for efficiency, and come up short when looking for new savings sources to tap. Another common metrics misstep is the failure to update KPIs to accommodate fluctuating markets.
The answer to overcoming each of these KPI obstacles is the same: Business leaders should place more emphasis on long-term KPIs that keep agility and flexibility goals at the forefront.
Departments within businesses have a natural tendency to silo into their own duties and processes. It makes sense: Teams form bonds, especially those whose employees work well together and collaborate often. When those silos already exist, however, a newly implemented iBPM tool can exacerbate them and lead to communication breakdowns with other departments.
Fortunately, these types of silos can often be broken down using the very iBPM platform in question. By adjusting existing workflows (like setting reminders and overdue alerts to all stakeholders), processes can flow smoothly among teams.
iBPM for dynamic enterprise transformation
Most businesses eager to move into the future global commerce space by making a digital transformation (DT) have already done so. BPM technology has continued developing in the years following the COVID-19 pandemic; the next step in business technology transformation is the dynamic enterprise model.
DT takes a process from one specific point to another (shifting an email-based help request system to a chatbot, for instance). Dynamic enterprise emphasizes the need for organizations to make small, frequent process changes — each day, if possible — for a flexible, market-proof strategy.
How, you ask? iBPM empowers individuals to use BPM software autonomously, building their own customized processes for almost any situation. No one knows customers, products, and financial transactions like the employees who work with them each day.
Secondly, RBP bots work around the clock, catching, recording, and sometimes repairing data inconsistencies before they snowball into problems. This AI element promotes the DET tenet of minor, recurring improvements to maintain agility.
The future of business process management: role of iBPM
At this juncture of digital technology, the future of business process innovation lies in the Internet of Things (IoT), or the network of the estimated 15.14 billion (and growing) smart devices connected to the internet and, in many cases, each other. Unsure of what that might look like? Think of smart plugs: They are adapters that convert ordinary equipment into controllable, WiFi-connected smart devices.
IoT presently flourishes in industries like transportation, where smart cars are being implemented in cities, and home appliances, many of which are now manufactured to connect to WiFi as components of voice-controlled smart home systems.
BPM, however, has a ways to go before it can fully interface with the IoT.
Enter iBPM. The same technologies we outlined above (lightning-fast data analysis, computer learning, and mobile accessibility) that interpret and organize data for businesses could be integrated with IoT devices, combining intelligence functions to collect real-time data for superior decision-making capabilities.
For example, adding a network-connected sensor to a piece of machinery could render its processes visible and send an automated alert of a pending malfunction to operators.
iBPMS vs. traditional BPMS
Intelligent business process management software, or iBPMS, is a set of integrated software and apps, some of which incorporate AI features, that work in collaboration to optimize business processes. As we pointed out earlier, iBPMS excels at quickly and accurately analyzing large volumes of data. Large companies or those companies that intake huge amounts of data (insurance agencies and law firms, for example) leverage it to save massive amounts of time and manual labor.
iBPMS is a technologically evolving branch of traditional BPM software. BPM software usually consists of one software platform. This is precisely what many companies need to streamline and improve their workflows. All stakeholders and invited customers can access the platform to find information and send requests.
Choose the right iBPMS service provider for your business
The iBPMS solution you choose should directly correlate to your business needs. Questions to consider include, but are not limited to:
- How big is your business/how many users will you have?
- Do you input large volumes of input?
- Are you expecting data output (like recommendations or solutions)?
- How complex are your processes (do they have many steps or multiple outcomes)?
- Do you deal with both structured and unstructured data?
Pipefy’s no-code BPM solution gives business teams the tools they need to stay agile while helping IT teams conserve resources. The Pipefy platform fully integrates with the systems and apps you use each day and includes the automation capability to integrate them with one another for stack extensibility.
And with Pipefy’s latest Pipefy AI feature, easily find the answers and data you need to make decisions accurately and quickly. All you have to do is ask the interactive virtual assistant. Learn more about the next frontier of AI-enhanced process automation.