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ManyWho was launched in May 2013 by two former Salesforce.com executives, Dave Norris and Steve Wood. They branded it the Cloud Workflow Company, It offers an innovative approach that allows organizations to create workflows, automatically convert them into business applications and run the apps on multiple types of devices. The key to its success lies in the second and third steps, which differentiate ManyWho from most other business process optimization vendors; the process maps that users produce are not static representations of how business processes should work but instead become apps that monitor what is happening and enable the next step in completing the process.
The ManyWho platform has drag-and-drop capabilities that enable users to map business processes as flow diagrams. These can include forms (or screens) in which to display or enter data, APIs to support pulling or pushing data to or from applications, and data-dependent logic – rules that alter the flow depending on what data is accessed or entered. The layout of the forms (or screens) is flexible and need only be developed once as the system can change the visualization to match the device it is being displayed on. ManyWho’s tools include collaborative capabilities so groups of people can work on developing maps before they are finalized and turned into a working app. This final step is achieved by clicking on a button; without IT intervention, the system produces a working app from the flow charts. The resulting app runs on the top of existing business apps so it doesn’t have to have its own data store; it pulls and pushes data to those underlying applications.
In essence ManyWho manages cross-functional processes that use data already in existing apps or data entered into a form to determine the next step. The next step can be virtually anything, such as ask the user to enter more data, gather more data from other sources, create an action or answer a customer query; it depends on the type of process being automated. Likewise the user interface changes automatically depending on the device on which it is running, so, for example, the same form can appear in appropriate form on a laptop, a mobile phone or a tablet. The system captures data about every step taken during the processes. This can be aggregated and input to third-party analytic tools to determine the efficiency, effectiveness and business outcomes of the processes; in this way organizations can optimize processes as they move forward.
ManyWho has examples of how customers use its product to automate a range of processes. My interest is in using it to improve customer engagement. Two of my research studies, next-generation customer engagement and the agent desktop, have uncovered a number of challenges companies face when trying to improve the customer experience. These are among the most important:
- Employees in multiple business units handle customer interactions.
- To resolve interactions employees have to access and enter data in multiple systems.
- The typical agent desktop includes multiple systems that manage communication channels (such as telephony), business applications, dashboards and notice boards. This complexity contributes to increasing average call-handling time and reducing agent satisfaction which are two of the top five goals for unifying the agent desktop according to the research.
- Interaction handling process have become more complex because customers use self-service to resolve simple issues. This complexity impacts customer and agent satisfaction as agents have to concentrate more on the process and systems rather than the customer.
- A key goal for improving the outcomes of interactions is to improve the use of best practices, which requires identifying how the most effective agents handle interactions and using technology to get other agents to follow the same process.
It appears that ManyWho could be used to address all of these issues. For example, it could be used to generate a smart agent desktop app that guides anyone handling interactions through the agreed process, displaying only the data and information the person needs at different steps in the process and changing the process depending on the customer. It also seems possible that a variation of such an app could be made available to customers, either as a smarter web portal or a mobile app, to guide them through resolving their own issues.
Other smart agent desktop applications and self-service systems can be used to achieve the same objectives. However the flexibility and ease of use of ManyWho can help organizations automate more processes, make them specific to defined types of interactions, customers or users, and for back and front-office processes. ManyWho provides more than its marketing description of “workflow in the cloud”; it offers a new way of developing applications that automate and simplify business processes. I recommend that organizations evaluate how it could help them improve the ways they conduct their businesses.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director