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Communications Mining

Uncover hidden business insights at speed and scale

Communications Mining

What is Communications Mining?

Communications Mining, or Comms Mining, is an application of Conversational Data Intelligence that focuses on understanding and extracting value from communications processes. It’s the practice of converting the unstructured information these processes are built on into structured, machine-readable data that can then be used for analysis and automation.

Communications Mining uses machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to help you understand everything that colleagues, customers and partners are saying, at speed and scale.

It provides complete visibility into communications channels like email, tickets, instant messages, and notes in CRM and ERP systems. With this insight, users gain a deeper understanding of their business and customers, and the ability to direct process improvements to where they will have the biggest impact. 

Learn more about the history of Communications Mining and how it works.

Why is Communications Mining important?

Communications Mining is important because traditional business analysis usually ignores processes that are heavily based on communications and conversations. This is despite the fact that email and communications are some of the least inefficient - but also most important - processes in the enterprise.

Emails, online chats, instant messages and service requests are the glue that holds an organisation and its people together. They contain invaluable insight into customer intents, the causes of workflows, the reasons for breakdown and process failure. Yet the scale of digital communications is growing unsustainably. Almost 320 billion emails are sent every day, and this is expected to grow to over 376 billion by 2025. The average employee sends or receives 126 emails a day, and up to 40% of their time is spent in Outlook alone. 

The vast scale of digital communications is too much for human workers to process. But analytics tools have also been largely ineffective at simplifying and building understanding of all this information. This is because conversations and messages are created using the freeform natural language of humans, producing unstructured data that most analytics tools aren’t built to understand. As a result, invaluable operational insight is being lost and can’t inform attempts to make process improvements.

Communications Mining changes this. It converts unstructured communications into structured data that is machine-readable for traditional analysis and automation. Communications Mining platforms can also group common themes and sentiments together, removing the need for manual categorisation and providing a holistic overview over all key information in a communications channel.

This is a first for process analysis and improvement. For the first time, business users - whether they are executives, managers or front-line workers - have visibility into their critical communications channels. They gain unprecedented insight into the running of the business, and the confidence to make positive changes that matter.

What are the benefits of Communications Mining?

Communications Mining is a crucial component in building an organisation’s Conversational Data Intelligence. Having a complete overview of communications channels helps a business drive key improvements:

Better compliance

Communications Mining gives compliance teams real-time insight into the business’s communication channels. Operational risks are surfaced and can be addressed more quickly.

Data-driven decisions

Gain visibility into opaque channels and processes to identify problems, inefficiencies and quantify change opportunities.

Happier employees and better business intelligence

Communications Mining reduces the need for employees to manually process emails and other messages, allowing them to focus on more interesting work.

Improved customer intelligence, experience and personalisation

The factors impacting customer loyalty and fuelling churn are more visible when you can process what they are saying en masse and in real time.

Improved productivity

Employees spend less time investigating issues and validating opportunities, giving them more time to focus on value-adding tasks.

Increased cost savings

Communications Mining speeds up many of the processes related to customer service, product intelligence and service monitoring. This cuts handling times and costs across the board.

More value from automation

Communications Mining reveals valuable automation opportunities that were previously hidden behind a screen of unstructured data.

Operational scalability

Communications Mining uncovers the costly processes and blockers slowing down the business, while providing automation and workflow tools with the structured data they need.

Where can Communications Mining be used?

Communications Mining can be deployed anywhere that email and communications-based processes - such as tickets, chats, CRM and ERP system notes - are core to the running of an organisation or operation. It works best when there is a high volume of messages passing between colleagues, customers, suppliers and partners, and where the use of shared mailboxes and systems is prevalent. All that Communications Mining needs to extract value is a large quantity of unstructured data, and people ready to take it through a quick and easy training process.

Powered by the latest advances in AI and NLP, Communications Mining is not limited to processing low complexity messages. Following successful training and deployment, it is able to understand and extract insights from the most complex conversational language used by humans.

Communications Mining has already seen strong adoption in industries that run on high-volume, high-complexity transactions between different parties. It’s being used across banking, asset management, insurance, ecommerce, telecommunications  consumer and business travel, and in the back offices of enterprises with large service functions. Communications Mining has also been lauded as one of the AI-based technologies transforming the wealth management industry.

Learn about the most common uses of Communications Mining:

What features and capabilities are important for Communications Mining?

Communications Mining forms part of a technology stack for intelligent automation and digital transformation. It’s important that a Communications Mining tool can easily integrate with other systems - such as Process Mining, RPA, optical character recognition and intelligent document processing. The number and quality of partnerships a given solution has with system integrators, leading consultancies, and technology vendors is a good indication of how easily it will integrate with your existing technology infrastructure.  

Ease of use is also very important as it determines how quickly Communications Mining can start creating value. Communications Mining platforms make use of machine learning and natural language processing to develop a constantly improving understanding of human language. This needs to be trained, however, which it achieves through a process called Active Learning. This is where subject matter experts (SMEs) - usually employees - train a model by consistently correcting and ‘grading’ its predictions until the model is accurate enough to be deployed. 

Depending on the application of Communications Mining, SMEs can come from anywhere within a business. Given a persistent shortage of technical - and especially AI - skills across industry, it’s very important that a Communications Mining solution is simple enough that it can be used without any prior specialist training. This is why the most popular Communications Mining platforms are low-code or no-code in nature. These platforms are built around the user experience, giving business users the ability to move through every stage of the model training process solely through guided on-screen actions, prompts and button presses.

Is Communications Mining the same as Process Mining or Task Mining?

Communications Mining, Process Mining and Task Mining are complementary but distinct tools.

Process and Task Mining rely on structured data to measure and monitor business performance. Process Mining extracts insight from event logs that are already available in an organisation’s information system, to monitor business processes in real time. Task Mining captures user interaction data - such as the frequency of mouse clicks on a desktop - to help businesses understand how their people are getting work done.

Process, Task and Communications Mining all use various AI technologies to understand business processes, with the aim of continuously improving them. Where Communications Mining differs is that it is designed to extract insight from unstructured data - specifically communications data like emails, service requests and support tickets - from purely conversational business processes, something neither Process Mining or Task Mining can do.

Communications Mining also has a very different overall objective than Process or Task Mining. While the latter two are focused on discovering where improvements can be made to boost process efficiency, Communications Mining helps businesses identify the causes of failure and process inefficiency so they can resolve them more effectively. Process and Task Mining show the ‘how’ of process efficiency, while Communications Mining addresses the ‘why’. All three play a role in delivering a more effective and competitive organisation.

Learn more about how Process Mining and Communications Mining are working together to drive insight and growth.

See what Communications Mining has achieved

How do I get started with Communications Mining?

Developing your own solution for Communications Mining, and maintaining it during deployment, can be time and resource-intensive. There’s no guarantee that the finished product will work as intended, and many in-house projects are abandoned before they can even begin. This is because building a production-ready NLP solution is a challenging multi-year commitment that won’t deliver value for some time. Key decisions must be made at every step, from choosing the right algorithm to model governance, with mistakes causing costly delays or scuppering a project entirely. 

It’s recommended that you adopt an existing Communications Mining solution that is constantly maintained and which has been steadily improved over many years. The Re:infer Conversational Data Intelligence Platform is a powerful tool that offers Communications Mining capabilities. Re:infer has worked with many companies to extract the value from conversational data and build intelligent products, services and workflows.

Request a demo or get started with a free trial.

Related resources on Communications Mining