AWD Advance Opening Keynote

AWD from DST Technologies is one of those well-kept secrets in BPM: I know about them because I’ve done a lot of implementations with mutual fund companies, which is one of their primary markets due to DST Systems’ transfer agency solution and their involvement in business process outsourcing (do not ask me to explain the web of companies that make up DST and its parents/children/siblings). When you mention DST and AWD to most people in the BPM space, however, you’ll get a faintly puzzled look. And when I mentioned that I was going to be attending their conference in Kansas City this week, I got a few raised eyebrows, because it appears that analysts aren’t usually invited along. It’s like a secret society or something. I’m still waiting for the initiation ritual.

John Vaughn, VP of business process solutions, gave the opening keynote about business process and customer experience as competitive differentiators: if you do it better, and make your customer while you’re doing it, you have a killer combination. If you read about my experience with Zipcar, you’ll know that this is true. Competitors in the future aren’t necessarily going to be who you think they are now; they’re going to come from places that you don’t expect, in terms of geography, company size and current industry focus. DST’s customers here today, many of them financial services and business process outsourcers, aren’t going to just be competing with other current financial services and BPO companies: at some point, Walmart is going to start selling mutual funds, free agents are going to develop financial planning software, and China’s going to ramp up their outsourcing capabilities. All of this is going to be seriously disruptive for companies that aren’t expecting to compete outside their current base of competition.

AWD as a product has been around for 20 years, and I expect that many of the customers in this room are still on older versions, wondering why they should convert from the old system that runs their business perfectly well to something new and potentially risky. This disruptive business and economic environment is exactly why you can’t just upgrade your server and keep doing business as usual.

Lisa Williams, officer of product management for AWD business process solutions, followed on from that to talk about where they’re taking AWD in the future: empowering knowledge workers, customer engagement through mobile and social, and generally enabling business transformation. AWD 10, which we’ll be hearing more about later today, provides a lot of capabilities to move this forward, but you also need to consider reinventing the customer journey rather than just incremental improvement. Then, you can use the AWD 10 capabilities that you already have to implement that platform to engage your customers.

Mike Lovell, director of product management, finished up the opening keynote with a focus on supporting knowledge workers by getting the technology out of the way and allowing them to engage with the customers. Productivity, throughput and quality are table stakes with AWD, and will never be compromised; rather, you need to up the ante with case management for a more flexible yet powerful environment to support those workers with prioritized task lists, activity feeds and team collaboration. There are also new monitoring and analytics capabilities for better visibility and more intelligent processing.

Good kickoff to the conference, and lots of interesting things to come.

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