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Gaining Automation, Speed and Agility with Cloud-Based SaaS CCM

BY Patrick Kehoe

KPMG recently completed a survey of U.S. CEOs that yielded a number of interesting findings. Among them was that fact that more than two-thirds of the CEOs believe that the next three years will be more critical for their industries than the previous 50 years. Major drivers for this outlook include the rapid progression in technologies, a more informed and powerful consumer and the intensifying pressure to innovate.

According to Steve Chase, KPMG’s U.S. Management Consulting leader, “Firms that focus on the customer experience while bringing automation, speed, and agility to the back office will be well-positioned to respond to market dynamics.”

True as that observation may be, for many organizations it is a task that is easier said than done.

While customer communications management (CCM) software systems play a critical role in the overall customer experience, the reality is often that multiple departments and multiple systems are in place for different aspects of customer communications, each with its own distinct process and requirements that take time, resources and specialized expertise. Strategies and investments in one area, such as customer statements, for example, may be planned for and implemented in isolation from other customer-facing communications in areas like marketing, compliance or customer support.

These overly complex and siloed systems fail to support the rapidly evolving needs of CCM, but a rip and replace strategy may not make sense—especially in a short three-year time period. So how can organizations meet the customer experience challenge that lies ahead?

An alternative to on-premise CCM software

One approach worth consideration is to leverage cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technologies for CCM that are agnostic to the delivery system and integrate with existing print composition and digital channels to accelerate the delivery of agile and responsive customer communications, and take advantage of content re-use. With this approach, editing content will not require any programming or specialized IT resources. Rather, a collaborative, self-service ecosystem can be created in which business users leverage easy-to-use, web-based editing tools to enter or change communications content. Self-service proofing and testing can enable users to see what content will look like in real-time. It also facilitates the easy creation of web-based approval workflows to ensure that only the content changes approved by the appropriate person or persons make it into production.

Cloud computing deployments of this kind continue to grow as organizations seek to take advantage of the quick provisioning, reduced costs, scalability and other benefits that are possible in a cloud environment. The popularity of the hybrid cloud was confirmed in a recent survey of more than 100 IT and business executives by IDG Research Services, which found that 72 percent have either deployed or plan to deploy hybrid cloud solutions within 12 months.

Addressing security

Security is one important reason for the popularity of the hybrid cloud. One of the primary considerations for any organization servicing the B2C space is maintaining the privacy and integrity of their customers’ personally identifiable information, or PII. Whether an industry is regulated or not, leakage or loss of customer data can have a significant impact on the brand, as it breaks a bond of trust with existing customers and establishes doubt with prospective ones. With the increased cost of new customer acquisition and the negative impact of customer churn, these are significant challenges. The financial impacts can be further felt by regulatory penalties associated with the breach of customer information.

For organizations desiring to keep customer or other sensitive data behind their firewall, the hybrid cloud model offers a means to get the flexibility of the cloud and the security of keeping data protected on-premise. SaaS hybrid cloud CCM solutions can address these concerns if designed so that customer data is only required when digital communications are being generated at an organization’s premises or at its trusted print service provider. With this approach, business users can use the cloud component to manage all messaging content and rules and collaborate with one another to preview and approve content for use in production, while the on-premise decision engine software and sensitive data remains within the organization’s secure environment.

Once content and rules are approved for production by the business users, a set of files containing all approved messaging content and rule instructions can be processed by the decision engine and the organization’s composition tools for production.

Of course, consideration should be given to ensure the hybrid cloud provider aligns with any applicable compliance and regulatory standards and also provides secure connectivity and follows the organization’s controls related to the access of customer data.

Finding the needed agility to enhance the customer experience

Businesses continue to need the ability to communicate new information quickly. Whether supporting marketing objectives or compliance, time to market with new information is more important than ever before. New and changing regulatory mandates are also putting pressure on many companies to get information to market faster.

As organizations plan for the immediate future, a SaaS CCM approach is worth a closer look, especially if it integrates with existing delivery systems that the organization has heavily invested in. It offers a means to simplify the complexity that exists in the CCM infrastructure of most organizations, making it possible to deliver the agility and automation needed to ensure the highest customer experience.

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