ROI key to melding BI, business processes

Embedding business intelligence into operational processes can help workers make better decisions, but such IT initiatives must be designed with the help of business users and quickly show a significant return on investment.

Several users with experience building such systems offered that advice at IDC's Business Intelligence and Business Process Forum here last week. All of the users said they have launched projects to infuse business processes with analytics to allow front-line workers to use exception handling to make decisions.

At Capital One Financial Corp., intelligent process automation or operational BI projects focus on high-level strategic areas such as cost cutting or outsourcing to ensure ROI, said David Hummelberg, managing vice president of IT at the McLean, Va.-based financial services firm.

In general, he said, "the value proposition [of a BI project] is pretty foggy going into it. That is why ours have been drafted behind a specific business issue."

Capital One uses intelligent process automation to route calls to 10,000 to 15,000 call center representatives, based on capacity and volume, Hummelberg said. As a result, the company has trimmed the operational costs of its mostly outsourced centers by 12 percent annually over the past several years while boosting customer satisfaction, he said.

The company has also placed a call center application on the desktops of workers in its outsourcers' facilities. It uses analytics to determine potential cross-selling opportunities based on the demographics and previous buying patterns of callers, he said.