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Forrester on the Future of Customer Communications Management Blog Feature
John Zimmerer

By: John Zimmerer on May 25th, 2017

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Forrester on the Future of Customer Communications Management

Customer Communications | INTOUCH

Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Craig LeClair (@CSLeClair) has a brand new report out, called The Future of CCM: Communications-As-A-Service. The purpose of the report is to shed light on strategic choices for enterprise architects struggling to figure out how Customer Communications Management (CCM) fits in an increasingly cloud-centric, multi-platform digital experience technology landscape.

We think this report is particularly important because it echoes and expands upon many of the trends and business imperatives we’ve been noting and responding to in the development of our new cloud-based CCM solution, INTOUCH®. In fact, LeClair specifically calls out in this report Topdown’s deep investment in future-ready CCM software and services, specifically in reference to our alignment with enterprise cloud platforms and commitment to the free flow of data and content among systems and applications.

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Key Takeaways

Here are the Key Takeaways, excerpted from the report’s executive summary:

A Growing Number of Platforms Now Play in Customer Communication

Marketing automation, email management, CCM, and public cloud platforms, all previously siloed, now have broader communication ambitions.

Trends Do Not Favor Incumbent CCM Platforms

Despite improving mobile and multichannel functions, traditional CCM’s biggest role will continue to be management of the declining print channel.

Vendors Will Support Modular Architectures

Cloud-based platforms will be the primary orchestrator for future communications. CCM and other communication platforms will provide callable services, or communications-as-a-service (CaaS), to support them.

LeClair cites a retail bank that found upward of 20 systems across marketing, service and sales functions that involved customer interaction. That’s not uncommon. What is common is that a mature enterprise-grade CCM solution is more powerful and capable in creating, distributing and tracking customer communications across multiple channels and business functions than any other kind of outbound communication technology, including marketing email automation tools, Sitecore-based customer-facing web sites, Salesforce.com CRMs, and others. And a forward-thinking CCM solution that is cloud-based and designed for easy integration can bring all the pieces together like nothing else can.

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LeClair cautions that communications trends don’t favor CCM solutions — at least, not traditional CCM solutions like the OpenText suite and others still serving a siloed, print-focused, operations-centric approach to customer communications. LeClair sees a future in which:

  • There’s an emphasis on shorter and real-time communications.
  • Enterprises begin moving more communication control to customers and robots.
  • Service and marketing communications blend more and more.
  • There’s a diminished role for CCM documents.
  • There’s a growing emphasis on more casual mid-journey conversations.

We agree with this vision of the future of CCM. Traditional, siloed, document-centric CCM solutions will be left behind, and forward-looking CCM solutions like INTOUCH will survive in the new cloud-based, services-oriented architecture.

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Because the INTOUCH architecture is cloud-based and built using microservices and containers, it’s also flexible enough to serve marketing, service and ecommerce needs equally well or interact with and support other systems of record and engagement via a variety of powerful API-enabled service components.

INTOUCH was designed to accommodate both traditional long-form communications and the shorter, real-time communications that are better suited to mobile and social channels that customers expect to use.

INTOUCH is also fully adaptable to give customers control over the communications they receive and how they receive them, and to supply robots with the customer data and content they need to be personalized and accurate in their interactions with customers.

That’s probably why LeClair calls out Topdown, among a small handful of other vendors, as harbingers of the future of CCM, which he says is in the cloud, with modular architectures (what Gartner calls content services) that support Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS) capabilities.

We’ll be diving a bit deeper into this report and give you more of our take on the future of CCM in future blog posts, so be sure to subscribe. And if you'd like to receive a copy of the Forrester report we mentioned, please contact us.

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About John Zimmerer

John Zimmerer is the senior director of marketing at Topdown, where he leads market research and outreach efforts for the company's customer communications and customer experience products. Most recently, John has been researching and writing about the future direction of the technologies that power customer experience, and is regarded as a thought leader in this area. John has nearly 20 years of software product marketing experience. His areas of expertise include market research, analyst relations, public relations and digital marketing.

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