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Customer Communications Management - a Convergence play on Four Unstoppable Trends

 1st Jan 2013


The emerging space named Customer Communications Management (“CCM”) by industry analysts Gartner, combines large scale Document Management Systems with Integration of organisation-wide solutions and four paradigm changing trends. These trends are now upon us: Mobility, Big Data Analytics, Cloud and Social Media. The commensurate IT shift from “Systems of Record” to “Systems of Engagement” is maturing as the two begin to merge.  Watching this happen and reviewing recent research from AIIM (the global Association of Information Management), there are a few ‘got it’ messages that I’d like to share.

1. Mobility technology means Freedom to Work - whenever, wherever - is here


The expansion of coverage and capabilities of our voice and data networks means with previously dreamt about levels of speed and capacity, data can be transferred in seconds. As network technologies deploy on a mass scale, the mobile hardware industry continues to innovate. The phone I always have with me is as important a work tool to me as my laptop¯but not only because of technology, but because of a change in business process.  As we’ve become more mobile in our ability to communicate ubiquitously, business is catching up.  By eliminating a lot of the paper bottlenecks that tied me to a desk, I’m able to collaborate with co-workers, submit paperwork, and view presentations wherever, whenever. 

If your company is not there yet, I encourage you to check out BPM in the Mobile Era and the research behind it in Process Revolution ­ moving your business from Paper to PCs to Tablets.

2. Big Data is going to change how we work


We all know the amount of data around us is multiplying ­ and it is doing so exponentially. Intelligent sensors add another dimension that will soon reach into almost every part of our lives. But companies struggle to find that “Big Data” moment that allows them to understand and envision how to service their customers’ needs in new breakthrough ways. A range of technologies classed as “Content Analytics” are starting to make significant inroads ­ in ways that will unquestionably impact how many organisations work. 

Again, it is going to take a shift in the way we currently work, and a vision that largely comes from information professionals, but the input will be paid back many-fold.   It's time to get started but do you know where?: how would you form teams for information mining and analysis, what would you want to know, what could you do with that knowledge, and would the ROI support the technology investment? Check out the Big Data ­ Using Analytics to Improve Your Business. This may look heavy going, but gives an insight into the skills required. I’m seeing the future of business, and it really isn’t that far away if harnessed with information management processes and enabling technologies.

3. Apps and Cloud model brings ease of use to many areas



I finally doubly broke down and got my wife a smartphone and my parents a tablet for Christmas this year. Word on the street was that it was going to totally change their lives. For my parents it might just do so.  The ability to always be connected by email, Skype or Facebook, or the opportunity to kill time with web browsing or video or a book, is entertaining.  The range of apps is daunting. But eventually, they found the apps that really made life simpler ¯ depositing a cheque using the portable scanner, finding the best lunch option closest to current location, and their favourite, real-time cross-checking prices to ensure the best price!  And all of this ease of use is now transferring over to the workplace.   

So it’s hardly surprising that the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend is growing fast across many organisations. Employees demanded “Why shouldn’t my work environment be as easy to manoeuvre in as my home one?” The consumerisation of IT is actually making the T part much more accessible to the users if embraced by the company. But companies can struggle with defining and implementing significant process changes, which is where external perspectives can help.

4. Social Media includes B2B as well as B2C

Traditional Correspondence in the form of physical letters is facing decline, with many of the younger generation preferring e-media. Yet regulatory pressures and other obligations mean we need to often produce the same message content for two different forms of output (and many more variants of each). Social Media has led to the development of tools for collaboration not just with friends but also in the workplace¯ones which result in a more collaborative effort than a physical office space. 

When one talks about social media and consumerisation, information professionals are, again, needed. Guidance is required on how to optimally combine data from Systems of Records with a System of Engagement to get the right balance of personalisation and automation ­ with speed, cost, engagement and effectiveness implications of each choice fully understood. Some of the implications are explored in this Social Business White Paper.

The implications for organisations to maximise their use of existing and new IT and related processes are as big as the shift from Mainframe and dumb screen to the PC “Client Server” model. To deal with this paradigm change, AIIM foresees a fifth trend; that large companies will need both appropriate software solutions and people with the right skills to help navigate this bold new world. Such “Information Professionals” will work closely with more pure IT types, business process types and end users.

The future of Customer Communications Management is being created around us by customer visionaries assisted by such teams sourcing and integrating the best software solutions with improved business processes. Perhaps Shakespeare’s advice should be considered:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
which when taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage on their life
is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat:
and we must take the current when it serves,
or lose our ventures.
(Julius Caesar: Act IV, Scene III)


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