Henry Ford’s revolutionary assembly line just got a modern-day makeover and promises businesses more efficiencies says Dave Paulding, Interactive Intelligence’s regional sales manager for UK and Africa.

100 years have passed since Henry Ford invented the assembly line.  In the same way as Ford’s assembly line brought greater efficiencies to the motor industry in 1908, today’s technology promises to automate business processes, improve customer service levels and even simplify executives’ tasks.
Using an all-in-one unified communications platform, any work item can be automatically routed through a workflow system in an assembly-line-like fashion.  The technology was developed primarily in a contact centre environment where calls and emails need to be routed to agents, but it has a broader application, which includes the processing of insurance claims, university applications or sales lead, for example.
Let’s take an insurance claim as an example.  A customer faxes an insurance claim form to an insurance company. To reach resolution, the claim has to go a workflow system – so it must pass through various departments in the company in a systematic way.  
The first step is that the claim form would be scanned and loaded onto the communications system.  From there, the form would need to bounce around to various departments for verification, investigation, final resolution and payout.  
Previously, this process would need to be driven manually, but today technology can automate the process so that the scanned form reaches the appropriate employees’ desks in a predetermined sequence.  
During this journey in the workflow system, the insurance company may need to contact the customer making the claim.  Using an all-in-one communication solution, these calls to the customer could be recorded for auditing or tracking purposes.
By using automated processes in this assembly-line-like fashion, companies can enjoy significant benefits.  Firstly, in the same way that contact centres can guarantee service levels, companies can begin to guarantee service levels in other departments.  Imagine an insurance company guaranteeing a timeline for the resolution of your claim?
Secondly, if the communication platform is standardised throughout the enterprise, the company can retrieve some valuable management statistics for each work item.  For example, the insurance company would be able to calculate how much a particular claim cost them to process, taking into account the number and duration of calls to the customer, the time taken for the claim to pass through the system.
This same approach could also be applied to streamline work processes on an individual level.  Let’s take a CEO of a listed company for example. Once a year, the CEO is required to report to the stock exchange on a certain aspect of the business.  To make his/her report, the CEO requires input from various departmental heads.  
The system can be programmed to automatically request the information from the various departments, and send it to the CEO by a predetermined date.  This enables the CEO to deliver his/her report on time, without having to personally drive the process.
The technology required to automate business processes and deliver efficiencies is here today.  It only requires some forward-thinking companies to follow in Henry Ford’s footsteps and embrace it to its full extent.