By Business Solution: Business Integration / Automation
Many business processes can be automated more easily than ever before using recent products and technologies. Because these processes are typically a key part of your business, supporting them with IT can result in very quick returns of investment. Automated processes can lower costs and increase revenue in ways that are frequently very measurable.
At first glance, Business Process Automation (think workflow) and Business Integration (think Electronic Data Interchange with business partners) may not seem very related; but they are quite so. Each requires the following functionality:
These features are incorporated into “Message Oriented Middleware” products such as Microsoft BizTalk Server. Some sample applications of this technology may help to illustrate its capabilities:
- Input to the system from electronic documents (data from another system, a web-based form, or an office productivity application)
- Processing of that input using a set of business rules that depend on the input and may change relatively frequently
- Handling exceptions that may occur in this processing.
- Creating output documents
- Monitoring the process for performance, bottlenecks, and potential problems (Business Activity Monitoring) and logging all process steps for audit capability
- Doing all of this securely and authenticating the process participants.
- Workflow: Managing “long running,” document-centric business processes such as loan underwriting, proposal creation, or Sarbanes-Oxley compliance documentation.
- Analysis: Reviewing transactions from Point Of Sale systems using business rules to detect fraud.
- B2B eCommerce: Handling automated interaction with business partners including order processing and claims handling, or implementing the “back end” functions of an online store.