When giving consideration to the communications that support your customer experience strategy, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the long-term impact of your choices. There are currently customer communications management (CCM) systems that have been operating continuously since the 1980s. Those systems most likely aren’t meeting today’s needs for clarity, maintainability or flexibility. While many of these systems are being refreshed, the average enterprise CCM system’s lifespan is approximately 15 years. When compared to average C-suite job statistics, that is equivalent to the lifespan of 3 CIOs, 4 CEOs or 5 CMOs.

When you think about updating your systems, you need to understand that your new system will likely outlast your executive team, their successors and their successors’ successors. You don’t need to remind them, but you need to think of your colleagues 10-15 years in the future before giving in to the fads, whims and fancies of people who aren’t going to be there to support you when their requirements no longer help you communicate with your clients.

Let’s look at your current communication requirements and project them into the long-term future. If you think 10 years out, it’s fair to assume there will be more channels rather than fewer channels. If you are designing a system today that needs to last a decade, what are your vendors’ track records for adding new channels? Do they adopt new channels at a reasonable speed? Do they leave the new channels to new vendors in a way that multiplies your design, support and approval efforts? While new channels often bring in new design elements, the communication is generally driven by the same core data and system integrations.

A system that is built to access a variety of data from files, databases, APIs or other sensor feeds will be generally more flexible as time goes on. If a system requires you to take responsibility for complex integrations to simplify input data today, your workload will multiply as new channels require you to manage more decisions based on that data. Imagine your CCM team’s response if your customers demand communications that use augmented reality (AR) technology. Will you have to request a separate budget, buy separate technology and build a separate team? If so, who will enforce consistency between these new teams and channels to avoid customer confusion?

Consider platform requirements for yesterday, today and tomorrow. Many enterprises are opting for cloud-based infrastructures today. Twenty years ago, there were still many mainframe systems in production that would not consider client server deployments. Today, many vendors, and even analysts, are pushing a false choice that you need to pick either an on-prem or a cloud-based infrastructure. If we’ve learned anything from the past 20 years, it is that architectural infrastructure tastes change. How will you move your templates, rules, content and workflows to new infrastructures if regulations, technology or competition changes the predominant infrastructure? Check to see if your vendor has shown an ability to support more than one architecture at a time, to ensure continuous operation during technology shifts.

The most important lesson we can learn from the last 20 years of CCM technology is that you will need to adapt to rapid changes. Sometimes that means moving to another type of technology, so select the technology that your colleagues will be using for the foreseeable future, which may not be the way you’re using it today.

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