Highlights of Xploration 15, the Customer Communications Conference

David Stabel and Matt Swain
Apr 23, 2015

Last week, customer communications conference Xploration 15 hosted around 350 participants in Orlando, Florida. This annual conference is a major industry event with more than 60 educational sessions for vendors, service providers, and enterprise attendees.

The educational sessions covered a broad range of CCM topics including workflow and automation-related technology, e-presentment and payment technology and innovation, hosted/cloud managed models, as well as strategy considerations for outsourcing versus maintaining in-house operations. InfoTrends hosted two sessions that covered a review of highlights from our annual customer communications research, and insights on the importance of CCM in an increasing connected world.

Here are four key takeaways from the event:

  1. The scope of CCM is expanding. The high concentration of customer communications management (CCM) vendors and stakeholders at the event made it clear that the definition of CCM is expanding—not changing, but expanding. The main objective of CCM still holds: supporting organizations optimizing their customer lifetime value with customer communications technology and strategies. Support for mobility, interactive communications, and marketing campaign management capabilities become increasingly common in CCM solutions. Also customer intelligence capabilities such as descriptive and predictive analysis, tracking of customer communications, and providing customer views are increasingly becoming part of CCM solutions.
  2. The customer journey concept is widely accepted. Several educational sessions referred to the importance of customer journeys in the context of CCM. In our CCM session, we focused on how CCM fits into customer journeys and shared insights into measuring impact of customer communications activities based on our latest study on the state of market of customer engagement technologies. We also heard customer journey discussed in GMC Software sessions and an RR Donnelley session, and those were just out of the few sessions that we attended. We expect this concept to be further integrated in vendor and service provider messaging as we go forward.
  3. It is difficult to sell on intangible ROI benefits. Proving return on investment (ROI) for CCM activities have always been a point of discussion and interest at this year’s event was no different. There are tangible parts of the CCM discussion that focus on things like the cost of software licenses/subscriptions, implementation and management costs, as well as the print and delivery costs. Then there are the intangibles like improvement in customer loyalty and advocacy or the decrease in customer churn. These become more tangible once the system is in place and they can be tracked, but it makes it difficult for vendors and service providers to sell clients and prospects on intangible benefits. The solution is often to leverage case studies that outline the benefits realized by peers in their industry.
  4. In-house printers holding their ground. While we have seen several large in-plant printing operations transition to outsourced models, outsourcers’ greatest competition remains the in-house print shops. This was clear from one session at Xplor that focused on making the decision to maintain operations in-house or to outsource. We heard from two insurance companies (one panelist and one audience member) that we adamant that they would continue to maintain their operations in-house versus passing the task to an outsourcing provider. Their reasons were primarily focused on data concerns and that their operations assessments showed that they were most cost-effective maintaining in-house operations. These are some of the points of pushback that outsourcing providers face as they try to win net new business in the market.

Despite its thorough coverage of the CCM space, the event will benefit from growing its reach to marketing and enterprise attendees. These are important stakeholders for CCM, and their influence in this market is increasing. That said, it was a great event and we look forward to Xploration 16!

 

David Stabel and Matt Swain

 

InfoTrends is closely tracking the field of customer communications with a variety of advisory services:

For more information on these advisory services, please contact Scott Phinney.

 

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