Business process transformation: Process mining meets communications mining

combining  process mining and communications mining business process transformation

Process mining has achieved much for operational efficiency in recent years. Yet, when combined with communications mining, they open entirely new avenues for business transformation. Process mining drives important efficiency gains; communications mining closes the loop on business processes, enabling end-to-end automation and capturing the complete customer journey. Alongside technologies for automation, both are needed to achieve a better, more competitive business.

The emergence of process mining has been a turning point for operational efficiency in the enterprise. Analyzing event logs and data, process mining lets operations teams sidestep the time-consuming task of process mapping. Instead, they automatically see where inefficiency exists in the business. Process mining shows you ‘how’ a process happened and where it could have broken down. When combined with other tools, we can begin to understand the ‘why'.

Businesses tend to have the tools they need to explain the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of their operations. But they so often lack the means to recognize ‘why’—and you can’t build a successful process until you understand the demand that drives it. To understand that demand, it’s crucial you make sense of your organization's unstructured conversational data.

To make sense of all your business conversations—from email to support tickets—communications mining is critical.

People, not processes

Communications mining is an even more recent development than process mining. Yet, the full potential of both technologies is realized when they’re used together.

Communications mining is a new class of enterprise software that extracts value from unstructured conversational data. It uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to understand business conversations at scale and converts them into structured data that can then be actioned by the business. Communications are analyzed in real time, giving businesses complete visibility into key business processes.

Unstructured conversational data—such as emails, tickets, instant messages, and notes in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems—represents a growing but largely untapped source of valuable insight into root causes. Up to 90% of business data is thought to be unstructured—much of it from communications channels. It could be a customer requesting an update, or an employee flagging a systems issue.

Communications mining can be deployed anywhere in the company where communications channels are embedded in business processes, pulling the most valuable information from employee, customer, and prospect conversations. It could, for example, reveal the most common causes of customer complaints or highlight the manual, repetitive processes that waste employees’ time.

In this way, communications mining is key to understanding and delivering a complete, end-to-end customer journey. Structured data will give you a detailed picture of how a process is performing, but you need to analyze unstructured conversational data to understand how the user is interacting with it and other connected processes. The focus is on the person, not the process. The demand rather than the path taken.

The real advantage of communications mining is that it enables businesses to measure the counterfactual. When looking at customer interactions, this isn’t about understanding what has happened in a particular process—it’s about discovering what could have happened and what the user wanted to happen. What need did a customer express, and why wasn’t the need met? This insight into the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’ or ‘how’ is best revealed by communications mining.

Consider a typical help desk workflow. Process mining accurately tracks the movement of a support ticket as it passes through the case management system towards resolution. What it doesn’t capture are the key points of conversation in the process. This is where the service agent and customer communicate (usually over email) to understand and solve the issue. When viewed through process mining, the ticket appears stuck at the ‘awaiting further feedback’ stage. But communications mining shines a light into the tunnel, extracting the key data from the messages bouncing back and forth. It helps the business understand the issue and how it can be solved.

Process mining drives efficiency gains—and for that reason it’s an essential tool for business improvement. However, processes often fail not because they aren't efficient, but because they simply don’t meet the demands of the customer. They don’t deliver what users want or expect. Making a redundant process more efficient won’t achieve much for an organization. Instead, a business has to understand how a process should change to deliver better outcomes for employees and customers.

Better when working together

There’s no cure-all for superior service or a better business. Communications mining is only the first step along the road. It identifies points of friction in communications data, flagging relevant areas for deeper analysis—the perfect opportunity for process mining. If surfaced issues are shown to be causing inefficiency, the organization can then consider ways of streamlining them. The fact that communications mining already converts unstructured conversations into structured data creates many new opportunities for intelligent automation.

A business can’t improve its processes without first understanding its customers—internal and external. Similarly, improving the back end won’t necessarily enhance front-end experiences. There needs to be an understanding of what’s going on and why. The role of communications mining is to act as a guide, helping businesses find the best locations to mine for gold. Process mining acts as the engine, helping you understand and optimize these processes even further. Both tools also create the data needed to directly automate some of the most costly and time-consuming processes in the business.

Consider how UiPath Process Mining and UiPath Communications Mining work together. Both tools drive opportunities for business automation and improvement through UiPath Automation Hub (all available via the UiPath Business Automation Platform). In this way, they work together to enable the automation of end-to-end business processes with both structured and unstructured elements. Employees complete tasks by communicating (with customers and colleagues) and interacting with corporate IT systems. With both communications and process mining, every stage of the process is primed for analysis and in scope for automation.

The order-to-cash process is a great example. Monitoring emails and customer relationship management (CRM) notes, communications mining can surface issues like consistent late deliveries to a high-value customer. It not only identifies and alerts the business to complaints and negative sentiment, it discovers the root causes of these issues. The reasons for contact creating work for your people. Process mining then helps to visualize the end-to-end order-to-cash process. It reveals the bottlenecks behind the mismatch between expected and actual lead times.

Communications mining and process mining also extract the data needed to automate key parts of the order-to-cash process. All the important data from customer orders are automatically logged into the order management system for faster processing, delivery, and payment. Customer complaints and delivery delays surfaced by communications mining can be automatically triaged to the requisite service teams for speedy resolution. The result is improved cash flow, increased revenue, enhanced customer satisfaction, and improved operational efficiency.

Greater efficiency is only one outcome of this combined approach. Once a business knows where its challenges lie, it has the insight and data it needs to transform itself for good.

For more on how process mining and communications mining drive continuous discovery and improvement, watch our on-demand sessions from UiPath Continuous Discovery Summit.

George Barnett UiPath
George Barnett

Product Management Director, Communications Mining, UiPath

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