Last month, we released the sixth edition of our "Customer Communications Management (CCM) Solutions Market Study." When reading the report, you may notice a common theme, which can be summarized in a single word—change. The CCM industry is constantly changing, which is no surprise to the veterans of this space who have witnessed this firsthand. However, what is interesting is the magnitude of change in a relatively short amount of time and that the primary driving force behind it has been technology.
In the last decade, the CCM industry has witnessed an explosion of technology advancements and innovation that has changed the way businesses interact with consumers. Smartphones and mobile applications have given consumers the ability to obtain information anytime, anywhere, and from any device. This technology has driven consumer expectations higher; thus, organizations are under pressure to deliver on those expectations with communications that are personalized, relevant, and timely. The world is a different place than it used to be, and advancements in technology have changed communication methods and business interactions. The consumer is now in the driver’s seat and will conduct business based on the most convenient and preferred channel. Because consumers have the ability to move between devices and channels, organizations recognize that creating a seamless digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it is a must-have.
CCM software is more than a document composition tool used to create transactional documents, such as statements, bills, letters, and policies. The software manages the entire communication life cycle, from data to delivery. Despite the available technology in the market today, enterprises may still be burdened by a complex CCM technology infrastructure that contains legacy systems, disparate workflows, thousands of document templates, and multiple repositories for digital assets. To remain competitive, it is critical for an enterprise to undertake a technology refresh to reduce costs and mitigate risk. Unfortunately, some organizations do not know where to begin, or worse yet, they start the process, hit a major roadblock along the way, and then abandon the project altogether.
The solution providers that we evaluated in our research have enhanced their software to help enterprises overcome the challenges associated with CCM. Some of the key enhancements by these solution providers include:
- Business user empowerment: Many tasks previously managed by information technology (IT) can now be performed by the business user, thereby, expediting the change control process. Tasks, such as template design, complex document creation, workflow and approval design, and data mapping, can easily be completed by knowledge workers through user interfaces that are designed for the non-technical user.
- Integration with core processing systems: Real-time data collection at the time a communication is generated is supported through the use of web services and application programming interfaces (APIs), enabling faster delivery of legacy applications to other channels, such as mobile and web.
- Cloud technology: Acceptance of cloud-based technology within certain highly regulated verticals, such as healthcare, insurance, financial services, and government, remains slow, with data security concerns cited as the primary inhibitor. Other verticals such as utilities, manufacturing, and telecommunications are early adopters.
- Inbound communications: Capturing data from electronic forms, email, and SMS communications are some of the response management capabilities offered for inbound communications. Some solution providers have integrated data from inbound communications with the outbound communications life cycle; however, this remains an area of growth.
While customer experience has become a top priority to maintain a competitive edge for many organizations, these providers have also come to understand that the user experience (UX) is just as important. Complex, legacy CCM infrastructures often prevent enterprises from being agile enough to manage the changes to their customer communications. Simple requests, such as changing a logo, updating a customer service number, or making changes to regulatory text to ensure compliance, may take weeks or even months to complete. CCM technology providers have recognized this and figured out a way to simplify certain tasks by keeping the complex technology “behind the scenes” and designing user interfaces that allow a non-technical user to easily design new communication templates, map data fields, create complex business rules, and even design workflows. By doing so, this has increased productivity and reduced completion times for change requests.
All of the solutions evaluated as a part of our research effort offer technology that can optimize a legacy CCM environment and reduce the burden on IT. The challenge can be understanding the requirements and selecting the right solution that meets the needs of all lines of business across the enterprise. One thing for sure is that technology will always be a driver of change, and how these CCM solution providers continue to enhance their offerings will definitely be exciting to see.
Gina Ferrara is a Senior Analyst with Madison Advisors and provides advisory services to organizations in the financial services and service provider industries. To access the full study, "Customer Communications Management (CCM) Solutions Market Study," visit www.madison-advisors.com.