The modern workplace expects far more "jack of all trades" rather than specialists, meaning it is more desirable for an individual to wear multiple hats and perform more than one role to provide the most value to a business. This is not a new phenomenon in traditional CCM, as the roles and responsibilities that revolve around data normalization, programming communications layouts and adding business rules, as well as managing the CCM infrastructure in addition to orchestration of communication creation through delivery, are highly technical tasks; putting a heavy dependency on IT teams. Increasing concerns around security, expanding business operations, infrastructure management, cloud deployments and more adds to the responsibility of IT, and the cost of operations. With the shift to cloud-based CCM solutions operating with microservices and thin client user experiences, is there a case for business users to take the pressure off of IT, and take over some of these responsibilities? The answer in this case can be a resounding yes given the right tools in the hands of the appropriate expertise.
How is your business organized today regarding your communication creation?
It’s amazing to reflect on how our lives have advanced over the past few decades. Technology has allowed us to take significant leaps forward, enabling us to do business in better, more efficient ways than ever before. Customer communication creation tools have evolved just as quickly, but not all businesses are as quick to adopt newer, timely and cost-effective approaches to this side of their business. For many, the process of communication content management, creation and delivery is still very much the job of a set of specialized folks within the company. These ‘hats’ are template designers and IT users with a myriad of tools and constraints to manage while they make the regular updates requested of them to maintain consistent and relevant content output for the customer.
Depending on the size of the company, this approach to customer communications can very quickly become a bottleneck of regulatory issues and time constraint factors caused by heavy workloads. When business and marketing professionals need to communicate something important to customers, such as a new product or service, it can be frustrating to wait for IT to make changes — the content is ready, the time is right, but it can’t be sent. Often, when the communication does go out, that window of opportunity may have passed, or the message has lost some relevance. Companies know that the quality, timeliness and accuracy of those communications greatly impact consumer perception.
It would make sense to empower someone else to carry out some of these tasks and duties. So, is there a hat that fits here? Certainly, with organizations looking to shift their customer communication strategy and update their legacy systems to more modern, often cloud-based, solutions, the opportunity is there to realign your expertise around the tools you use. And the modern CCM systems available these days offer that very opportunity to distribute the content experts accordingly.
Having a traditional communication designer create and manage the basis of any communication is still critical. Certain things will always be outside of the scope of a typical business user, such as output delivery channels, data inputs and mapping. But a shared environment, tailored to each persona in a communication development and maintenance scenario, allows users to simplify customer communication processes and easily create, change and personalize marketing and business content within the boundaries of their role. After all, your business users know their communication content better than anyone else. So, if you had a tool that allowed them to contribute that content, manage versioning, apply rules around the same data that your IT developers were using and do all this within your organization’s regulatory requirements, why wouldn’t you want your CCM hats shared?
What about communication orchestration and delivery?
But it’s not just content creation and design that can benefit from a solution that empowers your business users. There are many critical operations tasks within the orchestration of communications that fall on the shoulders of IT resources that business users could easily take over with the right user interfaces that provide the ability to visually construct orchestration flows and manage communication creation and delivery.
Communication orchestration is simply the collection of processes required from data receipt through communication delivery. These are steps often managed by operations teams responsible for ensuring that communications get created and delivered within the required SLA or regulated timeframe, often technical business users or business analysts and not IT.
The steps in these processes are often defined by an operations person and handed off to an IT person to develop; from defining the input channel where the expected communication payload will be received, data merging and normalization, processing the data against the right template during composition, any channel preference database checks, postal sorting or suppression list checks, and ultimately what channels or business systems are available to deliver the final communication. These orchestration flows are rarely linear, often requiring additional processing steps based on outcome mapping that looks to response data during runtime to determine the next step to take or after attempted delivery of digital communications, looking for soft bounces or delivery failures so an alternate delivery path can be attempted.
It's safe to say these processes can be rather complex and if they exist in a black box programmed by IT, often found in traditional CCM, there could be missed opportunities for optimizing production processing in a single job run.
Configuring complex communication workflows is just the start. What about adding a new communication channel as quickly as possible? Trying to get IT scheduled to add new channels like Push Notifications, WhatsApp or the next big output channel can be a challenge with other security or maintenance responsibilities, sometimes taking months. Giving more of this responsibility to an operations team that can manage everything from creating the new design layouts for the latest channels and configuring the orchestration delivery channel while also testing the new output before moving to production enables agility in responding to new channel preferences as quickly as possible; improving overall customer experience.
If business users have control over setting up the communication design, orchestration flow and delivery channels or business process integration, the natural next step is to give a business user real-time control over communication job management. The ability to watch for incoming communication payloads, monitor how these jobs are progressing, troubleshoot any errors in real time, generate job reports and more optimizes operations processes by giving the teams responsible for these tasks direct control. While IT may want to maintain control over the overall CCM systems infrastructure, the data and communications running through it are best managed by the operations teams most familiar with the processes being executed and the ability to quickly troubleshoot and keep communications moving. Additional post-job analysis or auditing are also tasks that with the right tools, the appropriate business users can easily access the information they need to report on.
Business user empowerment is not just an opportunity to take some pressure off IT resources who have a growing list of responsibilities to manage. It is putting the control over the customer experience that is better suited to a business user and giving these personas the tools to react and respond to opportunities that directly impact experience and satisfaction. From being able to quickly pull in new data sources to increase the value and impact of messaging in a communication, to quickly add new communication channels, business users should have the ability to put these changes into daily operations, allowing IT resources to focus on more critical technical and security responsibilities.
Stephanie Pieruccini is a Senior Manager of Product for OpenText CCM. In this role she is responsible for CCM Orchestration for OpenText Exstream as well as the StreamServe and Exstream platform solutions. Her experience comes from a strong knowledge of communication and production management from creation through delivery acquired from covering the print, marketing and CCM markets as an analyst and consultant with InfoTrends as well as serving as the channel development manager for CCM and digital transformation solutions at Neopost USA (Now Quadient).
Andy Feest is a Senior Manager, Product Management for OpenText CCM. Andy 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.