Knowledge a key driver to client service

Streamlining business processes is by far the most effective way to take advantage of existing infrastructure without tackling a complete overhaul.

While transparency is at the forefront of business application needs, streamlining business processes is the driver for all operations, large or small, to move from a reactive to proactive organization.

The best method is to tweak internal service-orientated architecture (SOA) and applications into knowledge-based services; organizations with an existing online presence are turning to software to push a service-orientated business model, not only for customer satisfaction, but for robust and integral data management.

Ross Dawson, author of Living Networks and Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, said there are four key drivers for transforming to a service-based approach: client sophistication, connectivity, commoditization, and transparency.

"Currently there is a high demand for visibility and to understand what customers are looking for," he said.

"There are two types of services, black box, in which a customer receives an outcome and is left none the wiser; this type of service is readily commoditized and leaves little scope for client interaction.

"The second type is knowledge-based, which allows the client to be able to make better decisions. A knowledge-based service gives far greater value for both, drives interaction and builds a stronger customer/client relationship," Dawson said.

Once such organization that has recently transformed a static environment into a knowledge-based environment is the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC). Using Enterprise Service Automation, an XML-based Web service suite from Epicor, the engineering consultancy introduced real-time Web-enabled functions that lets engineering project staff worldwide simultaneously review current engineering projects.

Peter Busbridge, managing director of SMEC, said the solution will improve contract win rates, increase revenue and improve cash flow. "It will enable us to move from working with reactive and historical information systems to one where we can access and create data in real-time using facts from the ground," Busbridge said.

Epicor Asia Pacific director, Jason Du Preez, said through implementing the software, the 800-plus SMEC employees can work collaboratively and view key performance indicators for projects instantly.

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