From what I can tell, there are two key differences in definitions of these new terms and what we have traditionally called workflow:
- timeliness: Not that workflow didn't always tout improvements in timeliness as one of its benefits, but it seems the goal now, as opposed to just improving processing times, is to provide near instantaneous turnarounds. For example, if I am applying for a loan, leveraging one of these new technology sets, can I get instantaneous feedback on whether I qualify or not, as opposed to waiting a week?
- multi-channel capture: Instead of starting a process with a paper or even an e-form and combining that with some supporting documentation, these newly defined ECM processes can be initiated and fed through not only paper and e-forms, but also social media, mobile devices, data from other systems, and more.
I'm going to now try and put all the pieces of the puzzle together:
- Looking to communicate with an organization, you have customers, partners, vendors, analysts/media and some others.
- These communicators interact with the organization through a number of channels, including Web sites, e-forms, paper documents, social media, call centers, and mobile devices.
- All communications require a response, and the best way to manage that response is through a structured workflow - fed by a multi-channel capture system.
- This workflow must be two-way street. ECM has always had the ability to connect with back-end systems, but now, it must be able to take information from these back-end systems (ERP, CRM, etc.) and feed it back to the communicators through multiple channels. This loop must be maintained until a transaction is completed.
- The ECM system must also act as a system of record and catalog all information and documentation related to a transaction- while it's going on, as well as when it is completed. That record must remain open and interactive to be able to incorporate additions to the transaction or future related transactions.
- There is also some stuff that can be done with predictive analysis of processes to help automate this loop.