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GMC Software continues to dominate as a Leader in Gartner’s recent “Magic Quadrant for Customer Communications Management Software,” as does OpenText, who has been busy expanding their customer communications management (CCM) portfolio through several recent acquisitions. Pitney Bowes also returns to the Leader quadrant with its personalized video and location-based analytics, which is redefining how we envision a document. Making a move this year are Smart Communications (formerly the CCM division of Thunderhead) from a Visionary to a Leader and Xerox’s XMPie, stepping into the Leader quadrant from last year’s Challenger position, with their focus on marketing communications.

A Closer Look at the Gartner Quadrant

GMC Software is still “among the most highly regarded of CCM providers,” reports Gartner, with their notable support for interactive and on-demand communications. Their investments in customer journey mapping tools, using business analytics to empower context-rich communications across multiple channel interactions, are blurring the boundaries of traditional output-focused CCM business models. We here at DOCUMENT Strategy look to GMC Software to continue to push these boundaries and focus increasingly on dynamic and contextual interaction management with customers, driven by intelligent customer data.

OpenText continues to expand its CCM portfolio with its Communications Center (which includes previously acquired StreamServe and Actuate PowerDocs) and the addition of the former HP Exstream products in August of 2016, along with Document Sciences xPression through the recent 2017 close of its acquisition of Dell EMC's Enterprise Content Division. Much like its enterprise content management assets, OpenText now owns multiple CCM products with considerable overlap. Gartner Research Vice President Karen Shegda tells DOCUMENT Strategy that OpenText will integrate the Exstream products with the Communications Center under the Exstream umbrella in their 16.2 release in April 2017. As for Document Sciences xPression, Ms. Shegda expects OpenText to migrate those customers over to Exstream as well. “There’s so much overlap that I expect, over time, they will rationalize the portfolio and offer a migration path for those customers.”

Isis Papyrus returns to the Magic Quadrant as a Challenger, with its strong output management and process management capabilities, as does FIS and Oracle. Kofax (formerly Lexmark Enterprise Software) again makes an appearance as a Niche Player, with their strong focus on the business user, along with Newgen Software, boasting strong workflow capabilities and investments in mobile capture and output, as well as social media integration social capabilities.

The Digital Business Drives CCM Innovation

According to Gartner, “Modern CCM solutions are vital to enable digital businesses to continuously engage with their customers.” Organizations today are challenged to offer personalized, holistic interactions with their customers. This means companies need to understand customer behaviors and preferences while anticipating their future needs. To deliver on these priorities, however, CCM providers need to move away from their “one-way broadcasting” and toward creating more of a two-way channel that includes listening capabilities. This will require integration with other technologies, such as web content management, marketing campaign management, and customer relationship management tools.

Gartner reports that many CCM providers are focusing on an integration strategy. For example, OpenText offers specific modules designed to work exclusively with Salesforce, and many CCM providers integrate with email delivery systems, like SparkPost or ClickMail, and marketing resource management tools. At the same time, there remains a slight overlap between CCM solutions and these related technologies, such as mobile applications that offer simplistic content creation. It is yet to be seen whether customer relationship management tools will begin to move closer to the CCM domain of creating content, thereby, managing the customer interaction.

Another way CCM providers are addressing the needs of the digital business is by becoming much more business-friendly, allowing business users (such as marketers) the ability to see what their content looks like across channels. We see many CCM providers working to make their solutions as easy to use as possible.

The Time for the Public Cloud Is Now

Perhaps, this shift to the needs of the business user is also contributing to the renaissance of the public cloud and software as a service (SaaS) models. Like those in the enterprise content management market, cloud adoption and capabilities have lagged in CCM. Risk-averse industries, like insurance and banking, slowed momentum toward the full cloud. However, as the needs for managing customer interactions grow more complex, Gartner sees “demand bubbling” for the public cloud. For example, Smart Communications long ago “put a stake in the ground moving to the full cloud and has embraced a cloud-first model,” Gartner tells DOCUMENT Strategy.

In the past, we saw providers balance this hesitancy for the full cloud by offering only cloud-based solutions for customer relationship management systems, like HP’s product called Relate and OpenText’s PowerDocs. Even EMC unveiled a product called Leap back in 2016, which Gartner describes as a services-oriented, cloud-based platform built on Pivotal that was going to offer limited CCM capabilities through a composition piece. Ms. Shegda tells DOCUMENT Strategy that OpenText has “stated its intentions to build cloud-native applications on that Leap platform.” Where that leaves Exstream and their work with the cloud is uncertain. GMC Software now offers their Cloud Services, which is a Microsoft Azure-based public cloud offering for CCM.

One Answer Is Not Enough These Days

Depending on your own maturity for customer engagement and personalized communications strategies, you will need to look at filling the gaps and those solution providers that meet those needs. It’s no longer about a one-stop shop. There are many CCM providers out there not listed in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant that are innovating in their space. Some include but are not limited to Prinova (a provider of a hybrid cloud-based CCM platform), DataOceans, Cedar Document Technologies, NEPS, Xpertdoc, and Topdown Systems, with their native cloud CCM solution.

There is a lot of change occurring in the CCM space, as this market grapples with how it connects to the customer experience platform. As a result, there is considerable disruption in the technology marketplace. Gartner advises buyers to monitor mergers and acquisitions impacting the industry and to be armed with strong legal language that protect your interests and data.

To learn more about real-time customer interaction management, don't miss DSF ’17, May 1-3, 2017 in Downtown Chicago.

Alison 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.

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