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Making Automation More Flexible

BroadVision will introduce software for designing automated business processes that require human intervention or collaboration
One of the main goals of business-process-automation software is to remove the need for people to get involved with business processes. But with a new product due March 31, BroadVision Inc. will make the point that some business processes require human intervention.

BroadVision Process is software designed for use by business analysts that lets them map out the requirements of business processes, including areas where human intervention is or might be needed. Technical staffers then build ties between the diagrammed processes and the underlying infrastructures, with BroadVision Process generating the code of the finished applications.

Too often, business processes are rigidly focused on automation, making it difficult for a person to halt or redirect a process, Forrester Research analyst Laurie Orlov says.

One early user, Telecom Italia, has a new business process for managing customer relationships. Italian systems integrator Etnoteam used BroadVision Process to build an application that lets customers go to Telecom Italia's Web site and enter questions or complaints. Customer-service representatives can perform both the machine-oriented checks, such as consulting the customer account database, or they can consult colleagues on how to proceed, says Marco Zamperini, research and development manager at Etnoteam.

If a customer claims she was offered a discounted installation charge at the time she ordered DSL service, for example, the service rep could query the advertising department to see if such an offer had been available. A collaborative dialogue window lets staff members discuss the issue or exchange documents, Zamperini says. "If the [customer-service rep] has trouble or is in doubt, he can ask for help."