Meet Messagepoint: Chris Miller, EVP, ProductBY Stefanie Neyland
At Messagepoint, we hear one question all the time: “What’s the best part about working at Messagepoint? Nine times out of ten, the answer is simple: it’s the people.
Behind the scenes here at Messagepoint HQ, there’s a dedicated team working hard to make our platform better, our clients happier, and our days more fulfilling. For this reason, we wanted you to get to know our company a little more, which is why we’re launching this new series, entitled “Meet Messagepoint”.
First up is an integral member of the company and part of our world-class product team.
With over 20 years’ experience in enterprise software product management and development, Chris Miller is currently responsible for driving development, operations and support for the Messagepoint product line.
He’s lived and worked in Canada, the United States and Europe, and speaks fluent German (his favorite expression in the German language is “lass die sau raus”, meaning “let the pig out” — in other words, to “paint the town red” (which his team does occasionally to celebrate major milestones).
From his leadership skills to his emphasis on building great products, Chris exemplifies the kind of team member who moves the company forward.
In this article, he shares his journey with Messagepoint, and explains how the product has evolved over the years into what it is today.
Name: Chris Miller
Job title: EVP, Product
Started at Messagepoint: 2011
What brought you to Messagepoint?
When I joined Messagpoint in 2011, I was attracted by this incredibly passionate, “diamond-in-the-rough” services company who had a game-changing perspective on customer communications, and a unique and compelling software offering. I saw an opportunity to guide the product through major milestones, such as revamping the user experience and making Messagepoint a cloud-based platform.
Looking back now, I can see we’ve come such a long way — acquiring customers around the globe, deploying cloud sites in three countries, and recently completing our second redesign of the platform after five years. Over time, we’ve also built an incredible team of developers, testers, and support people who I’m honored to work with every day.
Tell us about how Messagepoint has evolved since you joined the company.
When we started giving users control over their documentation with content communication management (CCM) technology, we were pretty naïve. It was during the heydays of “transpromo” — a compound expression of the words “transactional” and “promotional”, where marketing messages would be featured on statements, invoices or bills — and marketers were bestowed the right to have their little billboard of space on a statement to write and control their targeted messaging.
The original requirement was simple enough: allow a user to create a message and apply targeting, without requiring an engineering degree. Sounded simple enough. Based on that notion, a mere 10 years ago, we had some crazy Y2K thoughts like: “Our solution needs to support a maximum of 100 targeted messages!” At the time, it seemed like an insane amount. But boy, were we wrong.
It turned out that what customers really wanted was to control content across all types of customer communications, and no longer through a spreadsheet; they wanted a user-friendly experience for editing content — any and all content. Instead of a credit card-sized zone of content carved out of a composition template, the world was turned upside down, and a credit card-sized zone was left to manage the address block. The rest was a canvas for creative and highly-customized communications.
Not surprisingly, the nature of enterprise content in correspondence, policies and statements is very rich and diverse; once you bring content out of the darkness of a composition database into the light of a business authoring tool like Messagepoint, you quickly realize the power of what was lurking in the machine, and the power of what you now own and control in real-time.
You also realize that with that ownership comes the need for manageability and control. In other words: it’s high scale, and it’s highly complex. Our challenge at Messagepoint soon became “how can our solution help users manage customer communications at scale, in an intuitive way?”
What lessons did you learn in those early days?
Having cracked the initial requirements nut on rich web-based authoring, we had a new problem: users had so many targeted messages that they couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Organizing messages in folders helped, briefly, but ultimately the scale problem was so great that we needed to take a different approach altogether — we had to invent.
We soon developed new models for managing and navigating large volumes of messages and targeting in a way that users understood without overwhelming them. Concepts like variation management, dynamic smart text, and shared content libraries emerged to maximize reuse and minimize complexity. We like to say that we help our customers not just create and curate content, but also navigate and tame complexity.
Another challenge we faced is content scale. The permutations and combinations of content required in customer communications can be daunting — ranging from tens of thousands of pieces of content, to hundreds of thousands and, among our largest clients, millions. Yes — millions. Think about the math for a minute: Imagine a single piece of content that needs to be tailored slightly for each state. You now have 50 versions or variations of that content. Now multiply by the languages you need to support — say two — and you’re quickly at 100. But that piece of varied content may represent what you want to say to just one target group. There are perhaps 10 different groups who should get a different message, again with state and language variation. Suddenly, you’re at 1,000 pieces of content — and you’ve only just begun.
Now throw in digital. Your customer population is divided between delivery preference, and you need to be able to support both. So whatever volume of messaging you needed in print, might now double in size just to deliver to an alternate channel like email. Talk about scale. Talk about complexity.
But it doesn’t have to be so hard. With the right tools for managing content intelligently and efficiently, you can take the reins of content scale and complexity, and use that power to communicate more effectively with your customers – with the right message, at the right time, through just the right channel.
What’s next for Messagepoint?
It continues to amaze me just how much we’ve accomplished in the Messagepoint platform over the years. True multi-tenancy, a high-scale cloud ecosystem (that’s managed inside Messagepoint — more on that later!), a multilingual, accessibility-friendly UI, and countless advanced enterprise features and functionalities. And there’s still much more to come—starting with bringing artificial intelligence to our customers’ content. With scale and complexity, comes the need to provide automated assistance to our users to help understand and optimize content using the power of the machine. Now that’s an exciting future, and the next great leap for the Messagepoint platform.