In the midst of shifting workforces, rapidly evolving customer expectations and newly emerging channels, upgrading to cloud-based B2C communications solutions has never been more attractive. Modern customer communication management solutions (CCMs) not only improve retention and satisfaction through effective communications, but also streamline workflows with easy-to-use, browser-based tools.

That kind of an upgrade can be a tall order, however. A lot of enterprises have evaluated migrating to a modern CCM platform only to have the project fall apart. So many of these migration initiatives never complete or are deferred.

Why do so many attempts fail? Moving all of an organization’s existing content to a new solution is a huge, costly, and overwhelming hurdle. It’s often made even worse by legacy processes that struggle under the weight of multiple tools and systems.

A daunting maze of clutter

Who hasn’t been under time pressure, or working on multiple projects simultaneously where the quicker solution was in duplication, copying or cloning existing content and modifying for the sake of short-term efficiency? This works for delivering the project result on time, but when you evaluate your content for what is and isn’t important to a new system, you realize you have created a monster.

That content is likely scattered across your organization in hundreds (maybe even thousands) of pieces in various formats. That means a lot of time (often more than expected), increased costs, as well as likely errors and/or poor-quality migrated content. As staff struggles to manually reconcile duplicates and depreciated content, there’s a high risk of redundancies.

Migration is more than just manually having to review each piece of content looking for repeating content or correspondence that looked very similar. Finding that match is only the start. You must also note the differences and figure out why they existed, in order to determine if they can be consolidated or should remain as is.

Escaping your old CCM

For the longest time, many organizations have delayed or postponed modernizing their customer communications platforms, preferring to stick with the “if it isn’t broke” approach. I personally know of multiple organizations still using tools that I developed, and consulted on, over 25 years ago. That’s staggering.

That said, some — compelled by necessity and the significant long-term benefits of a modern CCM tool — do decide to take on the painful task of migration. A colleague of mine once spent six months on a services engagement, assisting three of the client’s staff in a conference room. They went through thousands of pieces of correspondence looking for similar or outright duplicated content in order to optimize a new CCM. In the long run, due to the savings of having fewer pieces to maintain going forward, it was considered worth the cost.

Until recently, there really hasn’t been a better way. Now the same technology that you implement for your CCM can also assist in the dreaded migration.

Making sense of the mess with rationalization

Rationalization is defined as “the action of reorganizing a process or system so as to make it more logical and consistent.” It’s about finding the content that is shared and re-used across all your touch points, removing unnecessary copie, and implementing variables rather than hard-coded text to prevent future proliferation.

Rationalization is that vital step for optimal go-forward use in a modern CCM platform. After all, would you really want a one-to-one “lift and shift” migration that simply moves the disorganization from the old to the new solution? Rationalization reduces the components required in your communication system, lowering management costs but also increasing optimal operational efficiency.

Great cloud-based CCM systems offer automated comparison analysis and the ability to detect even the slightest of variances (such as a bad grammar or spelling). They can ingest existing content, typically using the output from your legacy system, and find repeating patterns, reducing your content inventory to make it truly efficient. These innovations have made migration projects more efficient, almost entirely error-free, and achievable in a fraction of the time they would take to do manually.

Beyond the basics

But CCM rationalization can also be so much more. It’s one thing to find repetition, similarity, small errors of spelling and grammar as well as other possible content consolidation options… but what if the same tool could also improve content? With recent innovations in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), the process of rationalization, migration and content analysis has resulted in a very powerful toolbox for CCM.

Do you want sentiment analysis where you can be made aware that multiple pieces of content, despite differing words, say very much the same thing? Perhaps you need to define a readability score based on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level or index. How about deviations from corporate standards and brands that you can define and even allow for acceptance tolerance?

It’s about improving the migration process to the degree that what you bring over is not just optimized, but can be corrected or improved within a flexible, definable degree.

At your own pace

If your organization is like so many others we’ve seen, it’s unlikely that a migration would be all done in one go. It’s far more likely to be planned in stages built around the importance or priority of communication types, or perhaps organizational divisions, one by one.

This means it’s vital that any rationalization takes into consideration content that has already been migrated as well as content that has already been created and used on the new platform.

The future of rationalization

Ultimately, your new streamlined and modern communication systems should be engaged when authoring new content, but rationalization doesn’t need to end when your migration does. Imagine the power of ongoing rationalization to prevent reoccurrence of the issues of the past. Ongoing, intelligent assisted authoring to make those same content suggestions during communication development will future proof your investment from the creeping plague of redundancy, inconsistency and low-quality content. There may not yet be a tool that does all these things. But many do most of them, and the playing field is constantly evolving.

It’s a very interesting time in the customer experience solution space, and vendors recognize that you cannot be delayed in making the most of your new communications investments. When you take the plunge with a new CCM system, you take on the challenge of migrating with the desire to start with optimized content. If you harness rationalization capability integrated into your new CCM solution to achieve that end, you’re not just stronger now. The next migration years hence (if any), will no longer be the challenge it has traditionally been.

Andy Feest, Sr. Manager, Product Management for Opentext, is a 30 plus year professional experienced in Product and Program Management and leading global product, customer support and development teams. With 25 years of experience in the CCM space including consulting and development for enterprise and service providers in the United Kingdom and the United States.
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