OpenConnect - a "big daddy" of ABPD and more

Simon Holloway

Written By:
Published: 12th August, 2011
Content Copyright © 2011 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

During the last month, I have had two briefings from OpenConnect around their Comprehend product which overlaps not only the Automated Business Process Discovery (ABPD) but also business intelligence and also workforce analysis and optimisation. The company describes Comprehend as a process intelligence and workforce analytics solution.

Who are OpenConnect? They have their headquarters on the LBJ Freeway in Dallas, Texas. They were founded in the 1980s and initially concentrated their software development on products to make using the mainframe easier. The company has an impressive technology development record with 9 patents granted and multiple patents pending. They sponsor a research chair at the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven in Belgium on Business Process Discovery & Intelligence.

Figure 1: OpenConnect product development timeline (Source: OpenConnect)

With Comprehend, OpenConnect have concentrated on the financial services and healthcare insurance sectors where 6 of top 20 US healthcare players are customers as well as a leading global property and casualty provider. As an example, major healthcare insurance players include WellPoint, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota and multiple others.

From an alliance perspective, OpenConnect is a supporting member organization to America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national trade association representing the health insurance industry and with NASCO, the integrated membership and claims processing system for some of the largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.

OpenConnect has 3 primary technology partners:

  • Mark Logic Corporation with its XML server, to store, manage, search and dynamically deliver content;
  • IBM: OpenConnect are members of PartnerWorld for Software and PartnerWorld for Developers programs; and
  • RSA Security: OpenConnect has integrated RSA Security's encryption technology into their products. OpenConnect has received RSA SecurID and RSA ClearTrust Certifications which validate WebConnect SSO's interoperability with RSA Security's array of identity and access management solutions.

So how do OpenConnect go to market? In the US, the company has its own sales personnel. OpenConnect's key markets in Europe, which include Germany, France, the UK, Austria and Switzerland, also have direct sales. Its EMEA headquarters resides in Munich, Germany.

So what does Comprehend do? The product was first released in 2005 at the prestigious DEMO Conference and was specifically aimed at discovering processes in mainframe based systems. Although the mainframe is still a major part of their story, OpenConnect are able to cover other types of systems as well. The product can be broken down into a number of components as shown in Figure 2.

The first component - The Collectors - captures information about an organisation's business processes using passive techniques. They are system-specific solutions to capture keystroke/click level activity from web, desktop or mainframe based systems. Currently the following collectors are available out-of-the-box and the others shown in Figure 2 are in development:

  • Web: TCP/IP intercept allows passive capture of full web interaction for internal users and external customers.
  • IVR: Log files of customer interactions are used to provide details of menu interactions.
  • Desktop: A small (less than 1.5mb) applet is downloaded on the desktop to capture keystrokes and events based on a central configuration.
  • Mainframe: TCP/IP intercept allows passive capture of users interaction with 'green-screens'.
  • Files / Databases: Log files and databases can be interrogated to discover root cause of process and workforce operational inefficiencies.

Figure 2: Comprehend Architectural overview (Source: OpenConnect)

Comprehend contains 4 intelligence engines which form the knowledgebase to carry out the analysis of the information gathered and produce the process maps.

  • User Activity Replay: the information from the Collectors can be fed into User Activity Replay to replay exactly what a user saw and did across a single or multiple systems.
  • Analytics Cluster: the information from the Collectors forms the basis of user workflow analysis in Analytics Cluster. While multiple collectors can feed the engine, it provides a system-specific (e.g. web or IVR or mainframe...) view of how users are moving from screen to screen. Activities are defined in the engine that converts keystrokes/clicks into events. By defining the set of pages/screens that makes up an activity, every time a user executes any subset of clicks/transactions within an activity, an event is generated. All of the data extracted from the pages/screens that were part of the activity become attributes of the event.
  • Process Intelligence Cluster: the events derived in the Analytics Cluster provide the basis for the Process Intelligence Cluster to discover, analyze and provide actionable intelligence for process improvement. It combines events from multiple sources to produce a single process view. The engine provides:
    • Workforce Intelligence-where are users spending time, what is the variations between workers, or job types.
    • Process Intelligence-what is the actual lifecycle of a claim, loan, or other 'job'. What's driving re-work or process delays.
    • Customer Intelligence-where are customers struggling using an organisation's applications, abandoning a self-service channel for more expensive communication.
  • Dashboards and Reporting: The analysis in the Process Intelligence Cluster can be simplified and exposed as conventional table oriented data. This allows standard reporting tools to utilize the data and insights from the engine analysis into everyday operational reports and dashboards

OpenConnect have taken their experience of working with their customers using Comprehend to deliver specific services and preconfigured versions of Comprehend to the market. These include:

  • Understanding the claims process - this is based on the auto-adjudication % and also are able to show the lifecycle of a claim.
  • Workforce management

OpenConnect Comprehend has an impressive set of capabilities that shows the company's pedigree and knowledge of their target market. The diagrams and reports are very comprehensive and easy to understand.

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