Some problems only get worse the longer you hold off on a full-service, end-to-end,
integrated customer communications platform.
Good technology is hard to let go of. Sometimes you’ve relied on it for decades without any problems, or its unique properties just seemed to fit your company like a glove – then, unfortunately, something else comes along, or the glove just doesn’t fit like it used to. Many large businesses today still use systems developed in-house to support customer communications, where technological disruption seems to leave them at a terrible crossroads:
Build or buy?
Longevity in legacy systems has called for increasingly expensive, rigorous maintenance. Some government agencies use up to 90% of their IT budgets for this alone. When your company elects to continue enhancing its legacy customer communications solutions, routine maintenance becomes less and less “routine” with respect to a changing external world. This is a struggle for many today, as technology changes more rapidly than ever before. It gets easier to call some things “obsolete”.
Systems that were built as little as ten years ago may simply not meet today’s expectations. This is what we would call “functional obsolescence”. Where digital and SMS delivery have become standard in prevailing customer-centric philosophies, many enterprises still haven’t developed the tools for such capability around their aging platforms.
The response might be to develop it internally, adding another layer of functionality to your custom system around your existing legacy tools, or hiring a vendor to work around your unique legacy problems. The trouble is that this process is exactly the sort of expensive and tedious we’re trying to avoid; it takes several months to migrate data and recompile different assets for a new system. And this would need to happen every few years – possibly even more frequently, at the rate technology expands – do you see how it’s unsustainable in the long run?
So the issue, despite what you see at first-glance, is not a concern of up-to-date functionality, or merely catching up with the economics of an industry: it’s long-term future-proofing. Enterprises want a solution that promises fluid migration of data from old systems to new, and then reliable support for a lifetime. It’s long term future-proofing, building for flexibility, avoiding legacy problems down the line. Different vendors promise different things – when document production was only about composition, separate lines of business would have their own composition engines, producing amorphous solutions that would hinder customer-centric thinking. (We’ve seen as many as 50 solutions under one roof).
But the future promises a CCM solution which supports every possible use case, one that is malleable and allows you to innovate, the direct complement to your unique legacy concerns. Everyone involved in your customer communications processes will ideally speak the same language, to the great benefit of IT departments.
Whether choosing to consistently maintain your system, to completely overhaul it, or to enlist an end-to-end solution, you may conclude that maintaining control over the evolution of the system is worth the additional cost of an internal development project. Depending on a vendor’s roadmap puts your long-term ROI in jeopardy, limits autonomy, and stifles innovative approaches.
While enhancing your legacy systems internally to meet today’s requirements, you are most likely adding another layer of complexity to your own solutions, creating further separation between the architecture underlying your solution, and what it is actually doing. Disruption in the long-run will further inconvenience you. It’s the same if you’re simply tacking on individual, single-purpose solutions to an existing plethora. You don’t really know which vendors will last, and which will not; which solutions will need replacing in the long-term; which will need to be reconfigured, or for which there may no longer be support. Both options possess somewhat of a grid-locked feel. This is not the path to innovative customer communications.
We have customers actually experiencing this phenomenon today, migrating from our single-purpose XF rendering tool to our all-encompassing EOS system. Migration is seamless, and when finished, their customer communications will be on the cutting edge, all under the same umbrella, consistently updated, knowing that any issues that pop up can be solved in a heartbeat.
What they gain:
- Cross-training is a waste of resources. Get the most out of your staff with specialized, access controlled work environments.
- Support and maintenance for all of your solutions, end-to-end, from developers who draw from identical lexicons.
- Consistency can profoundly affect the customer’s perception of your brand, unifying the voice of your company gives your customers a sense of engagement.
- Be innovative without budgeting an IT project, or calling your vendor for consulting and implementation services.
- Draw stakeholders into the solution.
- Different use cases, different channels, different audiences, easy integration with other software supporting your business.
When we consider the options with a wholly unified communications systems that easily integrate with CRM and other data systems, it looks less like a crossroads and more like a journey just beginning. A fully-integrated, end-to-end solution means that it will be an easy transition. You can’t lose what you had before – you will only gain lasting structure in your customer communications efforts.