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Technology has long since become a critical business capability. But just how companies transform and modernise their business is still evolving. How can a company get it right for their needs and their customers?

No company wants to undertake a huge digital transformation project over extensive timelines. Especially if they discover that return on investment isn’t meeting targets. Or that what they’ve actually built is already legacy by the time they finish.

The future of tech transformation

In McKinsey’s Global Survey on IT and the Business 2020, the consultancy found that companies are moving beyond just modernising infrastructure.

  • 30% of firms still put modernisation at the top of their list
  • 37% are looking to digitise the end-user experience
  • 36% want to scale data and analytics.

This change is emblematic of the customer-first way of looking at things. Companies may pursue digital transformation to cut costs or increase revenue streams. However, it’s the transformations that put customers at the heart of the project that tend to be most successful.

Legacy systems old and new

The idea of a legacy IT system came about at the beginning of the digital transformation trend. It refers to an outdated and not-fit-for-purpose infrastructure. These legacy systems and processes were not designed for the multi-touchpoint, technologically-advanced world of today.

Disruptors and start-ups were poised to take advantage of the situation. Without the same legacy challenges, they set a new standard of flexible and adaptive systems, including in customer communications.

Customer communication companies found that their existing IT systems weren’t agile enough to adapt. They might have multiple document templates or data in silos, with no one process or system able to easily operate with another.

However, early transformations often compounded these challenges. They either tacked on new systems that increased the complexity of the overall architecture, or adopted a completely new infrastructure. New infrastructures could take years to bed-in however, and lack the necessary flexibility for the future.

Technology will continue to march forward, changing and evolving, so the process of digital transformation has to evolve too. There is no magic wand.

Many software solutions can only address challenges one by one, and adopting them leads to continued complexity in the system. Frequently, companies end up managing a legacy mainframe or two, alongside cloud-based or virtualised systems, in a complicated juggling act.

Creating customer communications which are effective, consistent and accurate, not to mention compliant with regulations, demands a unique skillset.

So it’s no surprise that we have seen Customer Communications Management (CCM) professionals become an essential part of sales, marketing and operational teams’ effectiveness in creating great customer experience.

Building an effective customer communications strategy in your digital transformation

It’s well-known, but worth repeating, that customers have very different expectations of their interactions with companies today.

They want consistent, high-quality messaging, regardless of which channel they use. They are also more empowered than ever to go elsewhere if they aren’t getting the experience they’re looking for.

That’s why omni-channel communication has become the backbone of customer communication management. It offers a strategic guide on how every piece of communication is produced, distributed and brings in / outbound comms under the same umbrella.

One all-encompassing comms strategy means every conversation with the customer becomes seamless and engaging. But how do you get to that strategic framework?

Building your strategic framework

Benchmarking the current state of play is a vital first step. The value of a discovery programme centres around the opportunity to take stock and map out the current state of your processes and documents, and identify any priority risks and gaps.

It’s essential, for instance, to understand where data comes from and in what format. It is likely that there are multiple groups of data in a wide range of formats.

Most enterprises are also wrestling with a broad hardware estate. There are likely to be hundreds of data sources feeding into any one piece of communication.

Brand guidelines and corporate governance can add further complexity. It is essential that every communication offers brand protection across all formats.

Once you know the lay of the land, the next set is big-picture decision-making – does the company want to build, buy or mix the two? The decision does not solely lie with IT, sales, marketing or operations.

Instead, some combination of these functions comes together to own customer experience in the organisation and understand, develop and use the processes and technologies in place.

This is why digital transformation is as much about transforming company culture and putting the right people in place as it is about finding the right technologies.

The benefits of business process management in digital transformation

While transforming company culture can be difficult, the greater challenge lies in sourcing the right people. For example, skilled IT professionals are necessary to develop in-house infrastructures.

Partnering with services and solutions providers gives companies access to highly-trained IT staff, as well as flexible and adaptable systems that are kept up-to-date.

Modern enterprise services and solutions providers have made significant investments in key and core software applications, supported closely by the software vendors, so they can offer business process management (BPM).

This removes integration and interoperability issues associated with an in-house deployment, which are often the cause of major delays in CCM programmes.

How does a BPM provider add value? By offering a solution which already adheres to industry standards, and is configured to customer needs.

It also allows the system integration of essential software and processes. Partnering with a BPM provider reduces complexity and increases agility – it is about configuration, not customisation.

With customisation comes increased investment in cost and time and an increase in risk associated with non-standard and possibly unsupported software. And nobody wants to spend time and money building another future legacy system.

Creating a valued customer experience in your digital transformation

We at Communisis believe that working with the right partners converts technology from the thing that’s holding you back, into a force that facilitates increased agility in development, decreased cost to serve and increased return on investment.

The truth of customer experience progress for organisations that are regulated and have high volumes of post-sale one-to-one communications, is that success is defined as much by what is technically possible in operations (accessibility of data, billing processes, document composition capabilities), as it is in marketing (sophisticated approaches to brand awareness, acquisition, etc.).

The right partner can help to deliver complex customer communications that are omni-channel, real-time and allow the customer to move seamlessly from platform to platform and device to device.

Consumers want 24/7 service, the ability to self-serve, instant responses, personalised experiences, and choice. By integrating legacy technology and processes with best-in-class digital solutions, companies can join up the old and the new to benefit customer experience and fulfil business objectives.

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