Highlights from Xploration 16

David Stabel
Apr 13, 2016

Last week, customer communications conference Xploration 16 hosted around 355 participants in Orlando, Florida. While attendance was about the same as last year, there were 141 first time attendees registered. With more than 55 educational sessions and panels for vendors, service providers, and enterprise attendees, this annual conference continues to be an important industry event.

The educational sessions covered a broad range of customer communications management (CCM) topics including analytics, business intelligence, production management, managing multi-channel and omni-channel communications, mobile strategies, as well as evolving trends such as personalized video, customer experience (CX), and customer engagement. Two educational tracks took a special focus on executives and career development and discussed topics such as compliance auditing, data security, M&A, RFPs, and topics around personnel management.

We have long been supporters of Xplor and this year we hosted two sessions and sat on two panels. Our sessions focused on providing high-level insights from annual research within our Customer Engagement Technologies and Transactional Communications & Payments advisory services.

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David Stabel and Matt Swain presenting highlights of InfoTrends’ annual research on customer communications

Here are three key takeaways from the event:

  1. CCM is becoming part of a wider customer engagement eco-system. This year, Xplor devoted a special track to CX. Related sessions and panel discussions covered a wide variety of topics, such as understanding CX and how CCM fits in, the best practices of CX measurement and control, and understanding the CCM components required to improve CX. But this year’s discussions went beyond CX. CCM is starting to evolve into a strategic component that is part of a bigger eco-system for customer engagement. In the customer engagement discussion, the role of customer communications is not only focusing on multi-channel transactional communications but also on supporting business processes in an omni-channel manner, like customer on-boarding, where a central concept is customer journey.
  2. Growth in data is impacting multiple aspects of CCM. Managing data in a CCM context can have several meanings today and each aspect will have its own impact on CCM. With the growing amount of personalized data, CCM increasingly delivers greater ROI because the communication with the customer can be done in a more relevant, timely, and targeted manner. Plenty of examples and best practices in data management could be seen at the conference. On another note, data analytics has become a fundamental component of CCM and enterprises as well as service providers are building expertise in analytics. At the same time, they are increasingly challenged to navigate regulations, compliance, and data security standards. Some educational sessions were dedicated to audits and compliance aimed specifically to the print, mail, and marketing industries.
  3. Personalized video has entered the customer communications space. Personalized video has found its place in the CCM landscape and enables an additional way for enterprises to communicate with their customers. Today, leading CCM vendors offer personalized video capabilities, but also non-CCM vendors in the customer communications market have entered, such as SundaySky, Idomoo, and Rednun. Unfortunately, none of these entrants were present at the conference, but this topic has been part of several educational sessions. One thing is clear. The technology for personalized video has reached a maturity level that makes it available to the general market today. Also, there are many synergies between workflows for CCM and personalized video. However, implementation tracks still can be lengthy and complex. To overcome this, the majority of vendors are looking to standardize their technology in order to scale up.

Overall, there was excellent educational content to help drive engaging discussions during the lunches and receptions. We look forward to next year’s event!

Matt Swain

Sr. Director

Customer Communications Advisory Services

@swainfotrends

David Stabel

Associate Director

Customer Engagement Technologies Advisory Service

@davidstabel

Clients of InfoTrends’ Customer Communications advisory services have full access to the research cited within this blog post. We will soon be launching our 2016 Annual State of the Customer Communications Market AND the Customer Engagement Technologies Market Survey, where clients will have an opportunity to weigh in on the questions we ask. For more information on how to gain access to the results, contact Jennifer Skerrett at jennifer.skerrett@infotrends.com today!

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