This article first appeared in the Summer issue of DOCUMENT Strategy.
In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business world, organizational agility has become more important than ever. Today’s businesses must quickly adapt to new market conditions, respond to unpredictable events, and bring new products and services to market faster. How they respond, and the speed of their response, might end up being one of the most critical factors in long-term success or failure. Cloud-based, multi-tenant SaaS solutions, particularly in customer communications management (CCM), have emerged as key enablers of organizational agility, helping enterprises transform the way they create, deliver, and manage customer communications, forms processes and customer engagement strategies.
What’s Driving the Increased Need for Organizational Agility and Speed-to-Market?
Agility is a capability that is hard to measure empirically, but when compelling events occur and the need for change arises, the lack of agility within an organization can be all too evident. Continuing economic uncertainty is just one factor that’s leading some companies to explore new markets to enable margin expansion and profitability. Their ability to be agile as they look to serve these new markets, create new offerings and services, and go-to-market frameworks will have a lot to do with their success in these new ventures. These challenging global headwinds require companies to have tools in place to quickly respond to unpredictability and bring new products to market faster.
Another important factor driving the focus on agility is the changing behavior of customers. Customers, across all demographics, have adopted newer technologies and expect to have intuitive experiences with businesses as a result. In fact, research from Salesforce showed that 84% of users said the experience a company offers was just as important as the products and services provided. These changing customer behaviors, which continue to evolve, need companies to consistently match pace by adopting technologies to manage complex tasks while still diminishing customer burden. As a result, employee experience will remain a top priority in terms of giving employees the right tools and technology they need to be agile and innovative. Finally, organizations especially those in insurance, financial services, healthcare, telco and local and state government entities are constantly required to change their business practices, their processes, and their communication content to conform to the changing regulatory landscape. These changes can be incredibly disruptive to businesses as they grapple with tight deadlines and unwieldy and outdated technology ecosystems in attempts to reduce their compliance risk. The IT debt that companies are forced to face in situations like this results in significant impact to operational efficiency.
Cloud solutions and multi-tenant SaaS CCM software can help mitigate some of these issues by delivering rapid innovation, enabling operational agility and simplifying the management of data. This allows companies to learn what works best for their organization by failing fast, making way for agile sprints that allow them to get customer feedback quickly.
Building a Communication Technology Foundation That Promotes Agility
If what we’ve established is that change is inevitable, building a technology infrastructure that is adaptable, flexible and malleable to change should be a no-brainer. These intelligently architected solutions can help to foster agility inside organizations. Everything from multi-tenant SaaS solutions to cloud deployment to business-friendly tools and utilization of modern technology are all critical to achieving agility. Interoperability is also an essential factor in creating an environment that is responsive to change.
For instance, many organizations are still solely reliant on their IT teams in order to make any changes to their communications. This can be a long and arduous process as lines of business are forced to create tickets that are added to IT backlogs and could entail months of delay even for the simplest changes. Empowering business users with the ability to make changes to communication content — while still including other key stakeholders such as legal and compliance — can have a significant impact on the speed of change when alterations do need to be made.
Situations like these are compounded when there is no common framework or architecture for understanding the various locations of where specific content might be included amidst their jumble of document templates. This often means that companies spend as long trying to locate all the various instances of a certain content fragment, or logo, or disclaimer as they do enact any changes to it.
A sophisticated CCM solution can solve these issues and more. It can provide multi-channel document creation and management, enabling businesses to manage and distribute customer communications across various channels. When it comes to digital forms management, the right forms solution will do more than simply automate forms processes in a business — it will empower business users to create, manage and automate customer communications, reducing the burden on IT, allowing IT to support strategic initiatives and double down on customer experience.
Cloud-led agility is also critical. On-premise solutions can be costly, slow and difficult to scale. Cloud solutions provide speed, scalability, elasticity, extensibility and business user control. Take for example, the financial institution that was tasked with redeploying hundreds of their employees to work from home during the start of the pandemic. Providing access to the critical communications infrastructure needed to happen immediately — with new users being provisioned within minutes resulting in uninterrupted business continuity. Empowering employees with the tools they need to do their jobs properly — and scaling when the need arises — allows organizations to drive agility and innovation.
Low-code or no-code solutions can also be used to reduce IT dependency, enabling business users to take control of their communications and reduce the time it takes to make changes. And by diminishing the use of paper-based forms in favor of digital forms, delivery speed and cost reduction can be improved.
A Focus on the Future
It’s essential for businesses to be agile and to quickly respond to changing market conditions and customer needs, a fact that will continue to change how organizations manage processes and workflows. Multi-tenant, intelligently architected SaaS solutions can enable businesses to transform the way they manage customer communications and forms processes, helping them to be more agile, innovative and future-focused.
Whether the initiative to enhance organizational agility and customer engagement is led by IT or business users, it is crucial to identify projects that can deliver fast ROI to gain the trust and approval of leadership. This not only ensures continued support for future projects but also helps to build confidence in the organization's ability to leverage technology to improve its operations and customer experiences. By focusing on initiatives that can deliver measurable benefits quickly, organizations can demonstrate the value of their efforts and build momentum for broader digital transformation initiatives. Onboarding new tech that helps an organization achieve rapid ROI, while empowering business users to be more agile and innovative, can be the initiative that rockets a business into the future of work.
Chris Murphy is the Vice President of Product Marketing for Smart Communications, a customer communications management technology leader focused on helping businesses engage in more meaningful customer conversations.