This article appears in the Fall-Winter 2019 digital issue of DOCUMENT Strategy. Subscribe.

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Over the past decade, the customer communications management (CCM) industry has been witness to some major acquisitions of key market leaders, with several of them touting a new business market share in excess of 20% at the time of their acquisition. By extension, this means that at least half (up to three-quarters) of all enterprises have been impacted by a major CCM acquisition.

As the ownership of your software vendor changes hands, organizations will need to adapt to new contracts, support processes, release schedules, business models, and different approaches toward innovation. Considering that many CCM applications have been in production for five years, while many more exceed 10 years or longer, it’s worth evaluating your CCM solution post-acquisition.

When a major solution company is acquired, it’s important to understand how the new vendor relationship will compare in context with your present and future needs. Here are 11 questions to ask your CCM solution provider.
  • Is my CCM technology core to the purchase? Most of the acquisitions in the CCM space are in support of a deliberate strategy to add CCM capabilities to an existing portfolio—but some are not. If your CCM vendor is a non-core asset in the acquisition, it’s important to then take into consideration how your technology will evolve.
  • Does the new company have a reputation for inorganic growth? If the acquiring company has a pattern of purchasing technology in order to add capabilities from new markets, it’s important to learn how the technology will evolve and integrate with their other assets.
  • Does the new company have a reputation for inorganic growth in specified markets? If the acquiring company has many products with similar capabilities, it’s critical to evaluate their dedication to the product you originally purchased.
  • Does the new company have a reputation for turnarounds? If the new company specializes in turnarounds, you will need to take the time to discuss any changes in their business model and how old contracts will be handled.
  • Does the new company frequently flip businesses? If a venture capitalist acquired your vendor, or a stake in their company, you will need to seek out information about their strategy for growth.
  • Does the new company have a reputation for increasing or decreasing investment in innovation? In particular, large acquirers have a clear and stated strategy for how acquisitions are treated. Make sure to look into the rate of internal investment for both pre- and post-acquisition.
  • Does the new company support users in the same way as the previous organization? Many acquisitions have impact on customer support—often positively—because they have scalable experience. Ask how your support will change.
  • Does the new company communicate a clear strategy to you and the market? If the acquiring company has a reputation for delivering on promises, you may be able to better plan your innovation schedule around a solid reputation for execution.
  • Does the new company have the same strategy for the product as the previous organization? Often times, companies are purchased because they have strategic alignment. Other times, they are purchased because they simply check a box for a missing component.
  • Has the new company forced migrations? When multiple technologies are acquired, sometimes several development streams are consolidated, pushing customers to migrate to one of the other technology lines in order to remain profitable.
  • What is the growth profile of the new parent company? Determine if the new parent company grows by adding new clients, increasing maintenance, reducing development costs, delaying innovation, or moving clients to newer platforms in their portfolio.
Even if your software provider was acquired many years ago, it’s still a good idea to assess their current business profile to make sure that it aligns with your company’s strategic goals and to ensure a solid relationship going forward. If you’re no longer a strategic fit, it might be time to check the market for other options.

As a customer, you have the right to challenge your vendors. To protect your investment, you are allowed to express your opinions, ask tough questions, and make sure your needs are met (before, during, and after the sale). After all, it’s the “age of the customer,” not just for your recipients, but for you as well. In the end, you’re in control when it comes to partnering with a CCM vendor that shares, and can support, your strategy.

Scott Draeger, CCXP, M-EDP, is Vice President of Customer Transformation at Quadient. His broad experience includes helping clients improve customer communications in over 20 countries. Follow him on Twitter @scottdraeger or visit www.quadient.com.
Many reading this joined our industry when multichannel meant producing both print and putting PDFs on the web. We all had a lot of fun making communications look better. We added color