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In 2019, news about the latest acquisitions, continued market consolidation, and maturing technology capabilities (like robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, cloud, and intelligent automation) dominated the headlines and held most of our attention throughout the year, and for good reason. These changes are not only redefining the technology infrastructures within the four walls of the enterprise but also the competitive landscape in which industry suppliers will operate in.

When we look at the stories that fascinated and captivated our readers this year, it’s obvious that the march toward digital innovation won’t abate anytime soon. Rather, as we head into 2020, it will be about how we get there that will stand the test of time.

15. Is Your CCM Strategy Mature Enough to Take On AI Innovation?
At long last, the age of customer communications management (CCM) seems to have arrived, aided by advancements in AI and intelligent processing technologies. From the shadows of the back office, CCM is emerging as a true enabler of customer satisfaction and lifetime value to the organization. However, this will require consistent practices around CCM investments and processes. To evaluate the role that digital communications can have on business transformation, IDC lays out the five key levels of maturity for adopting a holistic view of customer communications.

14. 10 Processes Primed for Robotic Process Automation
Robotic process automation (RPA) poses an attractive entry point for automating repetitive tasks and manual processes. While AI presents an uncertain future of human augmentation, RPA offers much more concrete and immediate benefits: redesigning inefficient business processes to meet the evolving needs of our customers. At the same time, the number of processes to target are vast. In this post, Daniel Schmidt breaks down 10 basic functional areas in which to consider applying RPA.

13. Smart Communications Expands Cloud Dominance, Acquires Digital-First Software Provider Intelledox
In the first of two major acquisition announcements to make the list this year, CCM cloud pioneer Smart Communications dialed up their digital transformation footprint this Summer by scooping up the Australian-based software company Intelledox. This pairing brings advanced capabilities in mobile forms, onboarding workflows, on-demand customer communications, and digital-first business processes to Smart Communications, a firm that’s uniquely focused on CCM development and services. In 2020, it will be interesting to see how this partnership will further advance Smart Communications’ foray into SaaS-based applications and their work in connecting digital interactions across the customer life cycle for hyper-personalized communications.

12. Here Are the Top 5 Keys for Digital Innovation in 2020
Even the threat of new security risks and rising global uncertainty hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm for digital initiatives inside of organizations. In fact, 82% of CEOs surveyed reported that they already have a digital transformation initiative underway to speed up new products and revenue-producing channels for the digital business. But unlocking the true value of this transformation can’t be accomplished without overhauling the right business and operating models first.

11. Big Bucket vs Small Bucket: Finding the Right Size for Your Records Retention Schedule
As of late, it seems like the records management industry is going through a renaissance. The intensifying spotlight on the legal and compliance requirements of our corporate governance programs is pushing the records retention schedule back to the forefront of discussion. In this post, Cindy Zuvich tackles the age-old debate on whether one approach for developing the retention schedule is truly better than the other.

10. What the Rebirth of OpenText Means for Enterprise Information Management
The continued transformation of one of the most established players in enterprise information management kept most of our readers hooked on this particular story. Announcing an expanded collaboration with Google Cloud (and their multicloud platform Anthos), we saw the OpenText stock price skyrocket to an unprecedented high, as it became clear that their cloud-first agenda would be a major source of growth for them in the future. With plans to release their Cloud Editions in 2020, OpenText has fully committed to this modernization strategy. As Google continues to battle Amazon and Microsoft for cloud market share, this particular alliance with OpenText could be a harbinger for some bigger shakeups in the new year.

9. Neopost Looks to Evolve, Changes Name to Quadient to Focus on Customer Experiences
In late Fall, one of the most historic brands in the mailing and document solutions industry announced plans to restructure their business lines and rebrand their 90-year-old corporate identity under the newly realigned company of Quadient. This story represents one of the more recent additions to our annual list, and its position reflects how much attention we all place on the strategic shifts in the supplier marketplace. Like other established players, Neopost is in the midst of its own digital transformation, balancing the needs born from their historic roots while seizing new opportunities in the customer experience management (CXM) space. While the announcement in September was more strategic in nature, we look to 2020 for Quadient to make some moves in their CXM evolution.

8. 5 Ways to Use the SharePoint Framework
For a lot of organizations, the SharePoint platform has been the long-standing solution for building their intranet, document management, or other collaborative system. However, as Microsoft expands their cloud footprint and pours more of their resources into these offerings, they are rethinking the SharePoint development environment. Hence, the arrival of SharePoint Framework (SPFx). In this post, Sandra Lupanava outlines why your developers might need to exercise a different range of competencies to make way for SPFx.

7. Why Digital Communication Is Key to a Good Customer Experience
This year, our focus on digital communications sharpened, as these key interactions were proven to be key enablers of customer engagement and fostering trust with organizations. In fact, research found that these highly engaged consumers are six times more likely to try a new product or service from their preferred brand, four times more likely to refer this brand to their friends and family, and twice as likely to make a purchase with their preferred brand. But this work isn’t as easy as it appears. In this post, Brent Haumann explains why connecting your digital communications to the customer experience might take you three to five years to get it right.

6. Pitney Bowes Sells Off Their Software Solutions Business to Syncsort for $700 Million
In one of the biggest announcements to hit the customer communications management (CCM) market this year, the third largest marketshare holder Pitney Bowes completed the sale of their Software Solutions business (which includes their entire CCM portfolio) to Syncsort on December 2, 2019—and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020. There are many avid onlookers out there waiting to see what this large data management software firm will do with Pitney Bowes’ plethora of services in data analytics and quality, traditional document output, and customer engagement solutions, like personalized videos and chatbots.

5. Kofax Bets Big on New Intelligent Automation Platform
The competitive landscape of robotic process automation, cognitive capture, and process orchestration reached a fever pitch this year, as both new entrants and more established suppliers looked to capitalize on this exploding segment. In 2019, Kofax joined the "platform" arena, joining together five key technologies collected in their years-long spending spree. Their new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered automation platform cemented Kofax’s evolution toward broader automation as a whole. At the end of the year, Kofax waded into the software as a service (SaaS) market with the addition of its cloud-based TotalAgility solution.

4. 2019 Automation Survey: The Path to Digital Transformation
In an exclusive partnership with IDC, we surveyed our readers to better understand how businesses are using technology to improve their operational efficiencies, reduce costs, drive new revenue, and build deeper relationships with employees, partners, and customers. We found that the vast majority of our respondents (roughly 81%) have already deployed software to automate their business tasks and processes. While real-world deployment of RPA technologies remained nascent, IDC expects this toolset to be the fastest growing segment of automation technology, especially as it becomes more “intelligent” with the injection of artificial intelligence technology.

3. Customer Communications Management in 2019
The changes in customer communications management (CCM) remained top of mind for most of our readers throughout the year. In this powerful market overview, Kaspar Roos outlined how technology integrations, the evolving services-led business model, and the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) would continue to impact the vendor landscape and overall CCM technology space. Looking toward 2020, it’s clear that communications-as-a-service and AI will drive CCM to be a much more active participant in the digital transformation efforts of the organization.

2. OpenText Exstream Previews New Web-Based Communications Designer and Orchestration
At our annual conference and expo in Anaheim this year, OpenText offered a sneak peek into their highly anticipated web-based designer, along with enhanced customer journey modeling capabilities for omnichannel orchestration. Their modernization efforts, including full-scale browser-based environments, cloud installations, and drag-and-drop functionalities, displayed the most tangible evidence of their transformation journey to date. Their appearance in the number two spot on our list this year isn’t a coincidence. We anticipate further functionalities in predictive analytics (i.e., recommending next best action in the communication life cycle) to push OpenText Exstream to the next phase of its evolution.

1. Forrester Says Customer Communications Management Will Improve Digital Adoption in 2019
And finally, coming in at our number one spot is our look at Forrester’s 2019 evaluation of the customer communications management (CCM) market. Forrester Vice President Craig Le Clair points to the use of mobile, analytics, and customer experience technology as the main vehicles for moving customers closer than ever before to digital channels. As investments in structured, print-centric CCM capabilities continue to decline and become table stakes, it will be the emerging domain of interactive output and cloud-based solutions that will put CCM on the customer engagement radar.

Allison Lloyd serves as the Editor of DOCUMENT Strategy Media. She delivers thought leadership on strategic and plan-based solutions for managing the entire document, communication, and information process. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonYLloyd.