Omni-Channel

Breaking Bad: How technology is changing Media & Entertainment

Inspired by the upcoming Emmy awards broadcast, and with a nod to last year’s awesome Best Drama winner Breaking Bad, let’s take a look at the impact of technology innovation on the Media and Entertainment industry and what it will mean for those companies to win an “IT Emmy.” As consumers, we have all directly experienced the dramatic changes happening throughout the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry. From music to television, books and movies, new and innovative technology has been a major, and at times quite disruptive, factor in reforming the industry’s business models. It is only karmic then that M&E companies are using technology in turn to create solutions that deal with the underlying changes in long established production practices and distribution approaches. OpenText sees enterprise information management (EIM) technologies playing an important role in those solutions. It’s been said that the larger lesson of Breaking Bad is that “actions have consequences.” To help me take a closer look at both the actions and the consequences for M&E, I’ve invited my colleague and industry expert, Charles Matheson, to answer some top of mind technology questions for publishers, broadcasters, movie studios and advertisers alike. Deb Miller: Charles, the Media & Entertainment industry seems to be going through a real transformation driven in large part by technology innovations. Traditional business models have been turned upside down or, in some cases, simply ceased to exist. What segments of the M&E industry are suffering from technology disruption? Charles Matheson: Business model disruption has been in effect for the past 15 years and the first segment of the M&E industry to feel the sting of technology disruption was the music industry in the early 2000’s. The emergence of digital music files or MP3’s that could be shared or sold blew up the decades-old business model of recording and distributing music. In a half decade the music industry saw billions of dollars evaporate from the business with devastating results. Just try to find a record store in your town. The other segments of M&E saw what happened to Music and determined that it wouldn’t happen to them, so adoption of new information technology and an innovation imperative drives their strategic planning and decisions. Media companies across the board have decided it’s safer to ride the technology wave than it is to resist and get buried by it. Deb Miller: Each segment of the M&E industry is different and will face different business pressures and innovation challenges. Are some segments handling this business transformation better than others? Charles Matheson: One key enabler has been the adoption of business process management disciplines and technology starting at the inception of a project, book, show or advertisement. Modeling and mapping a business process, even one as iterative as film production or website development, has proven to deliver results. Cost savings and performance improvements through process and case management are obvious benefits, especially those focused on serving the customer. However, increasing revenue may be the real “gold statue” winner for BPM. For example, a BPM based application that helps manage Intellectual Property and licensing can have a tremendous impact. Deb Miller: How are the segments using technology to enable this business transformation? Charles Matheson: Each segment has its challenges, but they are not in denial or resistant to change. The two segments of M&E that took the hardest hit early on were music and newspapers in the publishing segment. The advent of a ubiquitous free network caused major disruptions in key pieces of their respective business models. Music was freely, if illegally, distributed through services like Napster and news was aggregated through portals while classified advertising moved to specialized web sites like Craigslist.com. Advertising jumped on the new technology early on and perceived it, correctly, as a tremendous opportunity. Other segments like publishing, studios, broadcasters and game developers have changed their business models to adapt and prosper. Deb Miller: How are distribution models changing to meet the new business environment? Charles Matheson: Motion pictures used to be cut, approved and canned for distribution and released in a series of “windows” for consumption. The first “window” was theatrical release followed by a series of other “windows” which generated revenue for the property. Sell it to airlines for in-flight movies or premium cable channels, then network television and finally VHS or DVD distribution. With digital distribution this model stops working, so now films are distributed to as many resellers as possible in the shortest time frame possible – in other words, all the traditional “windows” of distribution are collapsing. The inaccessibility to films gave them great value; but that power is diminished in a networked world so ubiquitous distribution at a lower price point is the new way. This has a ripple effect all the way down the chain of production and accounting and requires new IT systems and applications to address the new paradigm. Deb Miller: What kind of new applications are media companies implementing for distribution? Charles Matheson: I’m a member of MESA (Media & Entertainment Services Alliance) and we spend a lot of time focused on digital distribution as the fastest growing segment of the M&E business. This is creating new challenges for content owners and distributors. Omni-channel distribution is the new imperative and media companies are looking for software platforms that intelligently push the right content in the best format for any device. These solutions need to be rock solid yet flexible and intuitive for the editors producing content and the end user consuming it. They need to be able to deliver highly personalized content over any network. Deb Miller: So that’s a great example for the movie business, do you have other examples that you can share? Charles Matheson: That’s just one example of a changing business model for motion pictures; there are many other examples I could give just within that same segment. The impact of DI (Digital Intermediate) in the editing process, the impact of digital cameras and the increasing size of digital files, the increased number of file types and devices that need to be supported for distribution all force organizations to modify their business process and technological infrastructure. Book publishers for example, are being forced to change and adapt their business to the new competitive environment. To the dismay of bibliophiles everywhere the book is inexorably moving from paper to bits displayed on e-readers and tablets. The new “digital book” is a very different property than its paper bound predecessor and publishers need to reimagine what it is they’re selling and how they sell it. Magazine publishers, at least the ones that will survive, are already way down this transformational path and the print product is becoming a supplement to a powerful online brand with video, polls and questionnaires, social media integration and relevant links to additional information “outside” the property. Deb Miller: How are M&E companies meeting this challenge of huge and growing volumes of digital media? Charles Matheson: Media companies must have a robust digital asset management (DAM) system, preferably one that is integrated with tiered storage. Using disk storage for these large files is not practical or cost-effective and managing petabytes of video requires the use of object storage or LTO (Linear Tape-Open) tape systems. LTO is being used in production and the DAM system must know where content is located and how long it will take to retrieve it. Deb Miller: These are really powerful specific examples of “actions and consequences” for the M&E industry. What would you say are common issues and solutions that apply across all segments in Media? Charles Matheson: Digital asset management is a broad and fundamental imperative for media companies. All segments must effectively manage their content and that content or asset is at this point, by and large, digital. Ironically, because it is so important, almost all media companies have purchased or developed “in house” multiple DAM systems that don’t integrate with each other, so having a federated view and access capability to multiple repositories is vital for performance and innovation. This is an internal business process problem for media companies and the complexity is shielded from consumers and investors, but managing digital assets in the media creation supply chain costs a lot. The digital distribution of content is also a common problem for all media companies and with advances in the network infrastructure and the explosion of end user devices, screen types and sizes, this issue is overwhelming. Leveraging cloud services for software and storage has become important for all media companies, as has the adoption of social networking software for building audience externally and collaboration internally. Federated Media Access is the most common solution to solving the problem of multiple repositories containing valuable content. This can be accomplished in two ways: first by aggregating and storing metadata from different repositories in one single master database with links or pointers back to the actual content or second, by having an application that integrates to multiple repositories and gives the user real time search and access to the content. Deb Miller: With so many technology hurdles and outside competitive threats, what can M&E companies do to gain competitive advantage and win the “IT Emmy?” Charles Matheson: As a rule, Media companies run two parallel IT organizations. One IT shop focuses on traditional IT systems that one would find in any large enterprise. I’m talking about financial systems, email, CRM and other internal properties like the corporate intranet. The other IT organization is focused on creating content like books, magazines, websites, movies or TV programs and advertising plus all the marketing material associated with those properties. These two IT shops use very different technology to achieve their goals and they are not vertically integrated – in fact, often the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. The integration of production IT with business IT will improve productivity, reduce cost and spur innovation and that is where media companies will focus their energies in the future. There are only a few companies who have operational experience in both back-office IT and media production environments, and they are poised to lead the next wave of business transformation in M&E. A version of this article first appeared in CMSWire. Illustration from Shutterstock. Shutterstock_155281778

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Shoe Shopping, Supply Chains and One Very Happy Customer

Followers of Gartner’s yearly Supply Chain Top 25 list may have noticed signs of progress over the last few years toward a responsive, demand-driven supply chain. As a student of the supply chain, I watch to see who makes the list and what market advances it highlights for suppliers and retailers. Last week though I got to experience the progress firsthand. An Omnichannel Supply Chain in Action Gartner’s list identifies 25 companies that “best exemplify the demand-driven ideal for today’s supply chain” and shares their best practices. There are some remarkable advances being made by supply chain leaders — whether or not they are on the 25 list — and sharing best practices is a good way to improve across the industry. And while all boats rise with a rising tide, the seas are much more turbulent these days in our omnichannel world. Supply chains need to align or get caught in a new perfect storm. Consider this scenario: You’re walking through the mall and see the perfect pair of shoes. You know, the ones you noticed on the fashion website and then on your Facebook page (because Facebook always knows what you are thinking). There they are in the store window on sale, so you pop in. You ask for your size in black to go with a new suit you just bought. CATASTROPHE! They only have them in blue in your size. You try them on. They fit like a dream and look great on, so now you really really want them. They are no longer just an idea, they are your must have shoes but they are the wrong color. A decade ago a consumer who faced this out-of-stock situation at their retailer might be told to wait until the next shipment arrived, or a check might be done and a suggestion made to visit another store location. More recently, the consumer might have gone online, found the shoes and perhaps purchased them from a different retailer. Consumers expect more these days and retailers have to step up to a seamless customer experience in order to keep the sale and maintain a delighted customer. In this case the customer got exactly what she wanted and the retailer did too. Here’s the second half of how this scenario played out: The sales person immediately says she can check for the shoe availability online. Yes, they have them and will ship no delivery charge to your home. They arrive within the week — right size, right color, same wonderful sale price! And yes they look fabulous with your new suit. Since I am a true supply chain geek, I wondered what went on behind the scenes in this scenario. Turns out the retailer in this story — Macy’s — has been investing over the past years in technology and approaches to optimize for omnichannel. They are outstanding in this endeavor and have been recognized by analyst and industry organizations alike for what they do and how they do it. The 30 Second Definitive History of Retail Supply Chain Excellence The retail industry was one of the first to embrace electronic data interchange (EDI) to automate and gain efficiencies in the supply chain. To this day EDI and its progeny continue as the backbone of the business networks that bring product from suppliers through to the point of sale — from ordering, packaging and shipping to payments and returns. Macy’s received an excellence in supply chain collaboration award from VICS (Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association) several years back for a MyMacy’s logistics initiative to reduce complexity, cost and time required to process vendor routings. More recently, a Gartner survey reported Macy’s major supply chain focus as well as overall industry priorities had shifted from reducing costs to initiatives for customer satisfaction and growth. And last year it received the Customer Engagement Award for Digital Technology at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Conference. Underlying this journey for Macy’s and other leading retailers are the technologies that enable labor and cost savings, cycle time reductions, streamlined inventory management, improved cash flows and better decision making. That same technology is now being applied to drive end to end supply chain visibility. Much of supply chain execution these days is prefaced on visibility to track to consumer behaviors in planning cycles, and then to adapt inventory and fulfillment tactics to match demand at any channel. Adaptive Approaches Maximize Inventory at any Channel Seventy-eight percent of digital shoppers “webroom” — research online before heading to a store to purchase — according to a recent Accenture survey. Alternatively, some store trips lead to a digital purchase. The same study found that 72 percent of respondents “showroom,” or buy digitally after seeing a product in a store. Consumers have merged online and offline into a single shopping experience, and they expect retailers to align with that world view. Yet Accenture’s benchmark study of retailer’s readiness to deliver seamless customer experiences found 81 percent reporting absent or underdeveloped capabilities in tailoring assortment, pricing and shopping occasion to customer expectations across channels. Macy’s has been working to make sure those capabilities are in place, creating an agile supply chain to maximize to customer behaviors. It has built multichannel commerce strategies and made technology investments against demand-supply point combinations. For example, the buy/deliver shoe scenario described above might be one combination, another might be web order/store pick up. Macy’s is turning retail outlets into multichannel fulfillment centers. It are also fulfilling direct from their supply chain partner DCs (Distribution Centers). In a recent interview, Macy’s Group VP of logistics shared that Macy’s uses a combination of lean manufacturing and forecasting, along with an omnichannel strategy. It focusses on fulfilling customer needs through existing inventories instead of purchasing new ones. Macy’s customers are twice as likely as other online buyers to have researched a product in its stores before purchasing it online. And Macy’s cashes in on this: It makes sure that customers can place their orders anywhere, through any device. Macy’s is also investing millions with vendors, in joint decision making in the choice of “inventories that haven’t even … come into their possession.” The shoes in my earlier scenario were sent directly from the vendor, shipped to the consumer, “sold” to Macy’s. This required both a solid backbone and enhanced management capabilities to keep better track of real time perpetual inventory levels and dynamically allocate inventory across channels to match ever changing customer behavior and demands. Same Day Delivery May Be a Battle, But Profitable Customers Win the Day While Google, Amazon and Walmart have focused on customer shopping behaviors and battling over shorter and same day deliveries, forward looking retailers will ultimately need to focus on winning “profitable customers.” In his recent blog post, Gartner analyst Robert Hetu shared his own supply chain shoe story. He pointed out that in the pursuit of multichannel excellence, “one of the most challenging aspects has been accurate and flexible inventory that can be maximized to meet customer demand regardless of channels.” Robert ordered two pairs of dress shoes from macys.com and they arrived simultaneously at his door — one pair came from the Galleria Mall near Pittsburgh, Pa., while the other came from Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, NJ. “Flawless execution of an e-commerce order fulfilled from store inventory and shipped to my door. And the shipping was free! I am a delighted customer.” Robert wrote about the next challenge for high performing supply chain companies, After years of perfecting a supply chain that delivers to stores retailers are faced with an entirely new challenge. Supply chain optimization along with assortment optimization, are two critical elements of the go forward multichannel strategy. The complexity of layered costs will require a new way of accounting and assessment at a customer level. The question is how profitable am I as a customer of Macy’s?” In the End, It’s All About the Shoes I have no doubt that we will continue to see paradigm shifts in supply chain strategies. I’d like to end this article with some thoughts on the amazing results that supply chains like Macy’s are achieving in the new world of omnichannel retailing, and share my prescient remarks on the challenges ahead. But at the moment all this supply chain talk is just background noise, because I really need to go try on my new suit with my truly AMAZING new shoes! This story first appeared in CMSWire. Shutterstock_49021327

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Find your industry colleagues at Enterprise World 2014

Enterprise World will have a great agenda this year, including industry-specific networking, sessions, speakers and insights. We hope you will join our industry team and take full advantage of the opportunities for peer discussion. We plan comprehensive coverage for Energy, Resources and Utilities, Financial Services and Insurance, Retail and Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Media, Entertainment and Telecommunications, the Public Sector, and more! The impact of digital on your industry We know the challenges that you face require a careful understanding and assessment of industry-specific demands, including established industry models and paths to digital transformation. So our industry experts have planned a set of focus sessions to hit on top of mind topics; including: Manufacturing Supply Chains of the Future Client Acquisition and Onboarding in Financial Services The M&E Digital Media Supply Chain Powering Business Transformation in the Energy Sector Challenges of Omni-Channel Retailing How Digital is Driving Government Transformation The New Quality Paradigm for Life Sciences More networking opportunities “You make thousands of decisions each year that impact everything from the kind of technologies your organization will implement to how digital will drive your global competitive advantage.” What better way to learn about the latest practices than from your peers in your respective vertical industry. This year at Enterprise World the vertical industry program begins on Tuesday afternoon with industry trends sessions and an industry meet-and-greet, and runs through Friday morning advisory group sessions. Throughout the week’s program tracks you will find industry solution case studies plus first hand customer success stories for your industry. Session topics will focus on how enterprise information management technology adds value for your organization, agency or business in your industry sector. And each morning you can join your colleagues at the “Birds of a Feather” industry breakfast tables. Register now and we’ll see you in November in Orlando, and in the meantime check out our Industry Insights community and Blog!

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PBS Adopts OpenText Media Management

A major press announcement at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, “PBS Adopts OpenText Media Management to Support Range of Media Assets,” revealed the latest strategy for PBS in managing digital assets for their network of more than 350 member stations. A key part of that strategy is DAM and process management. “As a public media enterprise, managing and sharing an increasingly rich and complex universe of assets is a growing challenge. We were seeking an asset management system that could meet a broad range of needs,” said Chris Contakes, PBS Vice President, Information Technology. “We were looking for a solution that would help us develop the ability for producers, member stations and PBS to create, distribute and exchange rich assets efficiently and effectively. Being able to assign specific end users to deliverables along with timelines and scope of work offered us complete visibility into our processes,” continued Contakes. “The OpenText system offers us a digital asset management solution to manage assets as deliverables with assignments and due dates in order to meet PBS’s promotional and programming timelines.” OpenText worked closely with PBS, establishing a proof-of-concept to demonstrate not only how OpenText Business Process Management (BPM) and Media Management are integrated, but the value of managing processes throughout the entire digital media workstream, or supply chain, for digital assets. At OpenText, we recognize this as the Create-to-Consumean information flow. The Create-to-Consume information flow interacts with many departments in an organization. Media organizations, like PBS, are recognizing that the traditional linear workflows are overwhelmed as marketing, promotion and omni-channel distribution of media content continues to grow. At NAB2014 OpenText demonstrated the Create-to-Consume information flow based on the themes identified in working with PBS and common to the media and entertainmant industry. We mapped out a workstream demonstrating the flow of a project from the initial pitch or project commissioning, production, finalization and approvals, to Omni-channel publishing and programming. Integrated with OpenText Business Process Management, the demo started with the orchestration and management activites associated with making a program, production or even a marketing campaign. At NAB we showed how a team collaborated on a program pitch, getting the green light and then the system created a project structure in OpenText Media Management. This notified project members, assigned tasks and set up a folder structure to start gathering and sharing content. Once initiated, these parallel streams for video production, photo shoots, graphics production for DVD packaging were all able to collaborate, with status and progress being tracked througout the work-in-progress production processes. Final approval was directed from the Media Management system for all the deliverables, including marketing campaign assets, program information, product catalog, video promos etc. One area of keen interest to NAB attendees was monetization, where we showed an integration with e-Commerce, in which assets populated a product catalog for an online store allowing customers and partners to download or order content. The marketers and website producers had access to all the assets in Media Management. Integration with OpenText Web Experience Management and Customer Communication Management allowed automated customer communications and the ability to seamlessly build out the webpages and microsites with video promos and images for a rich and engaging experience. The primary goal of the demonstration was to show the digital media workstream as an ecosystem with many interdependent and interrelated applications and activities – DAM, WEM, BPM, e-Commerce, Work-in-Progress, Approvals and Omni-channel delivery all working together in a specific use case. Managing an ever-increasing number of people, processes and technology is a growing challenge for organizations. OpenText has a broad portfolio of products and experise in enterprise information management to help companies struggling with a digital media strategy. Understanding the value of the digital media workstream and how coordinated, collaborative processes bridging the creative production side with downstream deliverables for marketing and consumption can help put your company on a path to greater success.

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Experience Suite Release—Adaptive, Omni-Channel Experiences

Digital technologies have ushered in the “age of the customer.” With increasing access to information about products and services, today’s consumers are empowered to shop comparatively online, influence the buying behavior of peers, and guide the overall brand experience. They expect immediacy and experiences that satisfy. The sales funnel of the past is being replaced by multiple interactions that create a lifetime of customer value and brands are consistently maintained in consumer communities rather than by advertising or marketing departments. By the year 2020, enterprises need to transform for the age of the customer. To gain a sustainable competitive advantage, companies need the ability to connect directly with the customer to create exceptional, long-term, and rewarding experiences. To nurture deeper relationships with customers, organizations are increasingly required to create consistent experiences, tailored to suit individual needs, across multiple digital channels, touch-points, and even supply chains. Organizations that do this effectively will benefit from deeper relationships with their customers, based on data-driven insights that enable them to more effectively meet their customers’ evolving needs. The latest release of the OpenText Experience Suite bundles interlocking capabilities into a comprehensive solution designed to deliver engaging customer experiences across all touch-points. It manages the entire customer experience by combining adaptive content management, orchestrated information flows, and compelling omni-channel experiences—all within a governance framework to ensure consistency. Experience Suite accelerates collaborative media creation, curation, and personalization to ensure that each user gets the best possible experience at every point of interaction. Experience Suite delivers rich, digital engagement through: Faster time to market: with omni-channel and tailored experiences based on analytic insights and market feedback. Responsive delivery: adaptive content management consolidates information from multiple sources to publish the most effective content for the buyer. Adaptive content delivers experiences that are device agnostic and can adjust as customers switch between devices and channels. Unified, seamless experiences: by connecting a broad ecosystem of partners (e-commerce, translation engines, web analytics, social media, and more) to deliver a consistent and seamless brand experience. Governance: through orchestrated information flows to ensure information and assets are effectively managed, governed, and can be reused in multiple instances. Extensible EIM services: engagement can be extended to include comprehensive EIM capabilities, such as enterprise content management to process management, information exchange, and information discovery—all in one environment. Flexible deployment options: Experience Suite gives organizations the option to deploy on premise, in the cloud, or in combination using a hybrid solution. OpenText Experience Suite provides rapid design tools to create and manage content that is delivered to web, social, mobile and print destinations, and is integrated with the AppWorks EIM developer platform, extending capabilities to all of the OpenText product suites. Solutions can be built on the platform to address digital marketing, customer self-service, social communities and brand management initiatives. OpenText Experience Suite combines capabilities that have been architected to work seamlessly together. Technologies include Web Experience Management (WEM), Customer Communication Management (CCM), Media Management, Tempo Social, and Portal. To find out more, read the press release.

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The Art of Banking

Note: A version of this article first appeared in CMSWire. What’s New in Bank Technology? I’m hearing a lot lately about exciting new technologies driving innovation in banking. There are conferences dedicated to the topic, analyst reports and whitepapers being published, webinar series and more. If you Google “technology innovation in the financial services industry,” you get more than 200 million results. A sampling of intriguing hits includes mobile technology that reportedly can save the banking industry $1.5 billion annually, Digital Shadows footprint based cyber-attack protection technology, Virtual Piggy that can support gaming and other social micro-transactions, and my favorites, because they both include awesome dogs, are Simple.com with a cool and intuitive way to save and pay and FloatMoney that helps build interest free credit by shopping (okay, the shopping part is good too). While it’s important to consider new external technology forces impacting a market, I like to think first about the desired customer impact and experience, not the technology. So what are banker customer concerns that present opportunities for technology response these days? Here’s my take on what a banker “bucket list” might include: 1. Capture and retain clients who have changing attitudes and expectations for communication, 2. Deal with the loss of customer confidence that came with economic market upheaval, 3. Satisfy customers who come armed with their own new technology like mobile, BYOD and social apps. Banks are creating value through online experience Banks have always been concerned with how to satisfy their different customer demographic segments. This is getting to be more challenging in our current omni-channel world. In a recent Forrester survey, 60 percent of respondents said they intend to use customer experience to differentiate their companies from others. Another Forrester study found that 64% of Millennials expect their experience to be consistent across all channels. These changing and ever more demanding customer expectations require that customer experience be coordinated across channels and yet adapted to specific channel characteristics. It also means that internal processes and interactions must be enabled to support this new omni-channel world. One of the most impressive examples I am familiar with is Wells Fargo who has 275,000 team members using the latest in Web Experience Management (WEM) technology with responsive design, enabling the enterprise to be agile and adaptive to the consumer at the moment they want to engage. This is all about increased productivity and access to information that in turn improves the end customer experience. Banks are reimagining how to create and sustain customer relationships In order to drive customer-focused innovation, banks are reimagining how to create effective customer relationships in today’s environment. Dealing with customer confidence means establishing and at times restoring positive experiences. These experiences in the past were often represented by personal relationships and interactions with key bank branch personnel. Now, innovative technology, much of it inspired by consumer and retail examples, can be used to achieve these objectives. For example, case management technology is a perfect approach to preserve the personal service that attracted many bank customers in the first place and at the same time bring down cost to serve. What was perhaps once performed by a representative with a personal relationship with the customer can now be assisted with case management apps that bridge channel, information and process gaps. With this assist applied to account opening and customer onboarding, it becomes possible to “know your customer” not only for compliance but also to intelligently suggest appropriately targeted product options, much like consumer retailers do. This also reduces the transaction costs involved and saves the lost opportunity cost. Banks are combining technology in new ways around the customer experience Banks are part of the increased focus on providing multi-media customer experiences. Ones that understand we live in a time where customers must be engaged across every device and place, as my colleague Marci Maddox shares in her recent Irreplaceable Experiences post. Social and mobile dynamics figure prominently in effectively engaging customers with a compelling experience. A CEB TowerGroup study found that 42% percent of banking executive respondents now believe that a key value driver of social technology is competitive advantage over others in their industry, while 25% of respondents also think social offers important functionality. Further, 65% rank social networking as a top technology for near-term investment, while 56% rank mobile banking as a key technology for investment. One of my favorite examples has banks innovating by combining new technology with existing technology; ATMs with human teller video chat. NBC news highlighted Interactive Teller technology from NCR that is being used to remotely control the ATM and all of its functions. What’s interesting is that the machine can work like any other ATM unless the customer pushes a button to request a human teller. The customer can use all the self-serve menus as normal, but they have the option to call the teller if needed. According to the NBC report, analysts believe it’s critical that customers decide when they want to do a totally self-service transaction and when they want some help. Banks are also experimenting with integrating social and mobile applications and smartphones into the ATM experience. With this, a customer approaches an ATM and launches the application. After the app loads, the customer enters the four digit PIN number tied to their bank account on the smartphone touchscreen. Then once the pin is accepted, the app brings up all bank accounts related to the customer’s account and transactions can proceed. The true art of banking It’s clear that banks are doing some interesting and artful things with technology these days, and to my mind the truly exciting “bucket list” innovations are focused on the customer and their experience. So what is on your “bucket list” for customer innovation? Illustration from Shutterstock_132892517

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Survey Results: Answers to Your Archiving Needs

What do our customers, and prospects, have to say about their repository needs? What are the common problems large companies face with the archiving solutions they use? And where do they see their needs, and the industry as a whole, changing in the future? That’s what we wanted to find out. So we set out to touch base with our customers and other companies using repositories, surveying them to find out more about their repository needs and insight. Check out the anonymous Q and A session below and let us know what you think! Are there any problems or deficiencies with your existing repositories? All the companies we talked to had been using a variety of systems, including IBM® Content Manager OnDemand (CMOD), Mobius and Panagon, or sometimes a combination of multiple solutions. Their answers varied in terms of the problems they encountered, including: Issues with the presentation layer Lack of records management control The cost of public access Disparate archives for statement and invoice content and scanned images The lack of a unified portal strategy Some of the specific comments we heard included: “[The] old Panagon repository is the great unknown and we don’t actually know what is in there. It’s unmanageable and the expertise is gone. Other repositories are recent deployments and we structured and configured better this time. In infancy, so nothing deficient yet. However, much of our unstructured data is not managed.” – Senior Consultant and Solutions Architect for a major Canadian bank. “We invested in FileNet – but there is work to be done to get every business on the same page for use and storage.” – Vice President of Applications Support and Sourcing at a major U.S. bank. “We did a large migration with Actuate, which was [a] successful migration from IBM to Mobius. As we look to integrate more into Mobius, we are not sure how to get all the data/content to a common format to the archive and set up for accessibility.” – Director of IT Applications/Document Solutions for a financial services organization. What features are your business users requesting and what regulations do you have to adhere to? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act – which require organizations make their documents accessible to people with disabilities – was a common answer to the regulatory portion of this particular question. In terms of what business users are asking for, more simplicity in the user interface, integration with existing Business Intelligence (BI) tools, document transformation reporting and automation of correspondence processes were all listed. Other requirements were multi-channel delivery, flexible indexing, advanced searching and integrated content transformation capabilities. Here’s what our surveyed customers had to say: “We have concerns on storage size, format type and disability requirements.” – Vice President of Applications Support and Sourcing for a well-known bank. “Section 508 compliance is becoming more and more prevalent with PDF output.” – Director of Application Management for a health insurance organization. Our third question asked customers what their vision was for where the technology is heading in the next few years. We’ll cover that in our next blog post.

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What Jonah Hill Taught Us about Omni-Channel Retailing

In the movie the 40-Year Old Virgin, Jonah Hill’s character walks into a store named “We Sell Your Stuff on eBay.” He discovers a stylish pair of Silver-Glitter Goldfish boots and walks to the counter to purchase them. But the clerk (Catherine Keener) tells him that he has to make the purchase online (at eBay). Understandably confused, Hill pleas with the clerk to let him make his purchase on-site, but she doesn’t agree. He leaves the store empty handed. In the past ten years since the movie was filmed, omni-channel retailing has grown considerably more complex. Fortunately, for Jonah Hill and the rest of the consumer population many of these complexities are hidden behind-the-scenes. Consumers need to select whether they prefer to purchase an item on their smartphone, tablet, PC/Mac, over the phone or in a brick-and-mortar store. But to those of us in the supply chain responsible for fulfilling the orders the complexity can be overwhelming. There are so many different permutations of “ship from,” “deliver via” and “deliver to,” that tracking the location and status of any individual shipment extremely complex. Ship From Goods can be shipped from the retailer’s distribution center – where you logically might expect them to be. But that is so 2004. Many retailers instead route the order to a nearby store for the consumer to pick up (or a parcel carrier to transport the last mile). Some retailers never even take inventory of the goods they sell online. They forward orders to third party fulfillment houses or to the manufacturer for “drop shipping” to the consumer’s address. The third party (or manufacturer) put the goods into a box with the retailer’s brand name and packaging then send it directly to the consumer. Deliver Via The actual package can be transported via air freight to a nearby metropolitan area and then routed to the consumer’s address via a truck. But that whole process might take three to five days. And who wants to wait three to five days for a shipment any longer? We want it today (if not within the next hour). A variety of innovators have emerged in the same day delivery market over the past twenty four months. Companies such as Postmates, eBay Now, Wun Wun and Shutl will deliver products within an hour to consumers in major metropolitan areas using trucks, cars, bikes, scooters or even horses to navigate around traffic jams. Amazon.com, Zookal and others have announced plans to utilize unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to deliver packages as soon as they can gain regulatory approval. Deliver To Ultimately the package makes its way to a consumer. It could be delivered to your home address. But that is so old-fashioned. What if you are not at home when the package arrives? Who will sign for it? What if the delivery man leaves the package and someone steals it? What if it gets damaged? Many consumers prefer to have the shipment taken to a locker which they can access at lunchtime or on the way home from work. Why not arrange to have it delivered to wherever you are going to be at that point in time? You can arrange to have a package delivered to your work or school. CarDrops will deliver to the trunk of your car. You can specify delivery for almost anywhere as long as you provide a one-hour window for receipt. You could have it delivered to a restaurant or a park. You can even have your shipment sent to a “We Sell Your Stuff on eBay Store” but only if you send eBay Now to pick it up.

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Mobility, Cost-Cutting and Business Analytics: The Three Amigos of Paperless Communication

If your organization prepares and provides activity statements and other types of customer account documents, then you know electronic communications are no longer merely “nice to have” but an absolute “must.” A new generation of consumers is accustomed to having online access to their information from wherever they are, whenever they want it, and the failure to offer it – or, worse, the offering of a poorly-conceived or badly designed way to have it – will send your patrons scurrying to a competitor. Fortunately, there are three business dynamics at work that make the decision to go “e” a no-brainer. Mobility The first of these is centered on the growing penetration of smart mobile devices, which can be, and increasingly are being, used as points of customer contact. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, “56% of American adults are now smartphone owners.” This is the first time since that esteemed organization began systematically tracking smartphone adoption that a majority of Americans now own a smartphone, and a similar trend can be seen with tablets (owned by 42% of Americans) and e-readers (owned by 32%). These statistics provide clear evidence that a significant number of your customers likely are equipped to interact with you anytime and anywhere they have a need. Your job is to accommodate them to the greatest degree possible, and whether it is via a native or a Web app, there are no remaining excuses for not doing so. Cost-Cutting Even the old excuse of added expense doesn’t apply the way it once did, for the move away from paper and toward digital delivery provides excellent synchronicity with the latest imperatives to cut costs. At the barest minimum, sending documents electronically means you theoretically can eliminate every expense related to traditional print and mail operations since there’s no paper or ink to buy, no folding and stuffing machines to power (nor people to run them), and no postage to pay. Though these savings accrue right away, they do come at an offsetting price, as investments typically need to be made in data management tools and personnel to effect the changeover. But in the larger scheme of things, the advantages associated with going digital usually more than outweigh the costs, given what it can do to support mobile engagement and more. Business Analytics A big part of the “more” here is the ability to use electronic communications to collect intelligence about your customers while they interact with you. Whether you’re reaching them on a desktop computer or a smart mobile device, your paperless presentation allows you to track what they search for, what they click on, how long they spend on particular pages, and so forth – and it does so over time, so you can see how their interests and activities evolve over time. This information feeds directly into the all-important issue of customer service by enabling you to provide ever more relevant responses to their inquiries and, better still, anticipate their needs. It also positions you to better target up- and cross-selling messages by properly matching your offerings to their demonstrated interests. The beauty of all this is that moving from paper-based to electronic communications doesn’t change your fundamental business process at all since you still must prepare statements and documents as you always have. The difference is that communicating digitally lets you accompany your customers wherever they go by maintaining a presence on their mobile devices and sustaining a connection with them after the message is sent. These are advantages that are not achievable when you use paper – and since can save money in the process, it’s no wonder that it’s getting to be more than just “nice to have”!

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Nostalgia and Product Catalog Management (PCM)

I recently did a webinar (see webinar here: http://opentext.com/campaigns/better-brand-engagement.htm ) with John Sprouse from Deloitte Consulting, in which we discussed how to bring a product catalog to life with rich media. As “webinar experts” in PCM and Digital Asset Management, we shared brilliant insights about how e-commerce has shifted the product catalog creation and production aspects to the on-line digital world. Researching those old print catalogs transported me back to a time of great anticipation; waiting for the arrival of the three-inch thick Wards Christmas catalog. Flipping through the pages, I remember spending hours searching for all the latest toys and gadgets to put on my Christmas list. I could imagine riding one of those ultra-cool banana-seat bikes or that Atari thing to play video games. There were pictures, descriptions, prices – all the information needed to buy. Except you had to go to the store or fill out and send an order form with a check, then wait six to eight weeks. I wonder what it took to create those catalogs. It must have been a monumental effort, getting the photos or artwork, doing the layout and making sure all the information was accurate. How did they manage all that information in the days before digital? I speculate that these companies and their catalog workflows continuously evolved with the goal to save time and reduce costs so they could be more competitive and increase sales. I also suspect they were thinking about the customer experience with art directors, photo selection, special offers, all geared to get people to buy more stuff. Online shopping still has those basic elements – images, descriptions and prices – but e-commerce has changed the dynamics. Print catalogs: · Paper is fixed, can’t make changes · Costly production, printing, shipping and postage · No way to measure who sees catalog · Limited data on purchasing behavior · Delayed ordering by phone or mail Online shopping / e-commerce: · Dynamic; ability to create interactive, personalized shopping · More information about products · Social aspects; like, recommend, reviews, share · Metrics and analytics · Order immediately Today, there is still a great deal of effort to create a product catalog for e-commerce, although companies continue to evolve as the latest technologies help to streamline those efforts. Smarter, integrated tools provide Master Data Management so all the product IDs and SKUs are tracked and can be searched, including all the associated images, videos and content. Intelligent workflows can automatically customize and personalize experiences on the fly as buyers visit the site, using historical data and patterns. Customer experience is not just tied to the buying process. It is aligned with support and customer service, rewarding return buyers and brand advocates. This doesn’t mean that print catalogs have gone away. Now they are one channel of an Omni-channel customer outreach, whether business-to-business or business-to-customer. Product catalog management continues to evolve and is now an ecosystem of many workstreams, with information and data flowing in and out of an organization. It is an organic and adaptable process continuously changing based on the environment and other variables. As complex or simple as today’s technology allows, the ultimate purpose remains the same, get people to buy more stuff. It seems the more things change the more they remain the same.

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2020 Agenda: Are You Ready?™

By the year 2020, technologies like the cloud, mobile devices, big data, and the Internet of Things will have digitized our world in many ways. Society is already being profoundly transformed by these disruptive technologies. Entire sectors and old business models have been swept away as consumers find new ways to consume and access information, news, entertainment, and products and services to meet their daily needs. By 2020 all of the major operating functions of the enterprise will be digital, driven by the needs of three stakeholder groups: suppliers, employees, and customers. Suppliers: Buyer-driven platforms will continue to spread to the digital world for dynamic and real-time results, expanding on Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing to optimize supply chains and meet customer demand. Employees: At least half of an organization’s workforce will be comprised of “digital natives”—a technically savvy generation that grew up with easy access to the Internet and other digital channels across many devices. Empowered by mobile and social technologies, this highly-agile workforce will help the enterprise on its journey to digital transformation. Even now, digital natives are entering the workforce. Customers: Organizations will connect directly with customers to deliver highly-personalized products and services, create exceptional and compelling experiences, and tap into the wisdom of the crowd to source new markets. Customer expectations around responsiveness, delivery, and interactivity are already rising. The year 2020 will see a convergence of these forces into a nexus that the enterprise can capitalize on to create competitive edge. Organizations will need to digitize every process and re-configure their businesses to ensure competitiveness and effectiveness. To keep pace with evolving consumer and business needs, the enterprise of today will have to transform itself into the digital enterprise of tomorrow. Information lies at the heart of this transformation. In the digital age, information is the new currency—it holds the key to innovation, growth, and opportunity. Information leads to greater insights, better business decisions, higher customer satisfaction, greater agility, and optimized business performance. But how do organizations unlock the potential of information without compromising productivity and security? Enterprise Information Management (EIM) is the key transformative technology. EIM is the set of suites and practices that maximize the value of information while minimizing risk. EIM powers the 2020 Innovation Agenda. An EIM strategy will help transform your organization into a digital enterprise to support highly targeted, omnichannel marketing, a productive and inspired workforce, and streamlined distribution across your digital supply chain—all while ensuring governance and security. We have a comprehensive toolset that can help you re-conceptualize your information platform with our EIM Suites, Trading Grid, AppWorks, and Managed Services. Enabling 2020 is a multi-year journey. Let’s start it together, today. Read the 2020 Agenda White Paper.

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Going from ‘good enough’ Customer Experiences to ‘great’ ones means paying attention to the little things in 2014

Not long ago, comprehensive marketing strategies involved a combination of print advertising, radio and television spots, direct mail, email campaigns, and pay-per-click advertising. But times have changed—and companies that don’t keep up may get left behind. “Customers are more connected, they’re more empowered, and they’re more distracted than ever before,” said Ron Rogowski, Vice President and principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc., in a recent webinar. This increased connectivity has changed consumer activity: People used to log online for a set amount of time to accomplish tasks from start to finish. Now, 90 percent of consumers use multiple devices sequentially to accomplish a task over time—and many are using multiple devices at once. Customer journeys are no longer linear, said Rogowski. To engage with their audience, companies need to focus on connecting customer experiences across omni channel touch points. “You have to find a way to engage with your customers [and] to deliver a level of experience quality commensurate with the content functionality needs, but also the brand expectations,” he said. The goal is to deliver “a smooth and seamless path from one end of the customer journey to the other.” When it comes to unifying customer experiences across omni channel touch points, there are a few evolutions and trends organizations should know: There are 4 Key Evolutions around Omni Channel Experiences: The increased capabilities of measurement tools provide even more insights around web analytics and online marketing initiatives. The right tools allow marketers to calculate the return on their marketing investment, or ROMI. Companies are embracing the entire Web Experience Management (WEM) or Web Content Management (WCM) ecosystem. To choose the best technology for them, organizations should look at all the internal products they want to integrate in order to get a three-dimensional view of their customer. Content publishing itself has become a more important part of creating an omni channel experience. When creating content, marketers need to consider the publishing endpoints, whether it’s a tablet, a mobile device, a gaming console, or even upcoming technologies like Google Glass. The incorporation of social media and social networks into omni channel experiences is also growing in importance. This means not only being able to push content to sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, but also to aggregate user information and provide personalized web experiences from a corporate side. So what are the Top 3 Trends for a Unified Customer Experiences? Content in Context: It’s important to have great content, but it’s not enough. Context is the driving force that determines what content you should be serving your customers at any given time. Factors you should consider when determining context include demographics, historical data, and stated user preferences. Location-Specific Content: In addition to content delivered based on past consumer actions and demographic data, devices today are also able to serve content based on where the user is at any given time. So if, for example, they’re nearing a large retail (brink-and-mortar) store, their device can automatically serve a coupon, a welcome note, or even a webpage customized to that physical location. Monetizing Unused Content: Roughly 80 percent of content that’s developed gets left on the cutting room floor or lost in silo’ed repositories. Marketers are beginning to consider how to monetize this content right from the creation or ideation phase. Strong assets can be leveraged for other media purposes, such as developing a mobile application or putting together promotional materials. “As people are interacting with companies, the difference between a good experience and a great experience is often the micro-interactions,” said Rogowski. It’s the little things that matter most —the way a site feels, how technology behaves, the personality of the content, and the consistency of the brand—are becoming more and more important. To succeed in the new omni channel world, organizations need the right WEM and WCM technologies in place to help them continually adapt to changing customer needs. Learn more about unifying customer experiences at www.opentext.com/simplify.

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Introducing the Experience Suite

This year’s theme at Enterprise World was the Power of Information. How appropriate that according to a recent report by Forrester Research, we have entered the Age of the Customer – a time when the customer (or any consumer of information) holds a lot of that power in the palm of their hand (literally). Technology has made buyers smarter and employees empowered; with online reviews and mobile web access, customers know more about a company’s products, service, competitors, and pricing than the organization may know itself. With power comes insight and with insight you can change the world. It is no coincidence that the digital revolution over the last 10 years has changed the global economy. Customers want to access information anytime, in any place and on the device of their choosing. Their experience with a company should be interesting, entertaining, informative and purposeful. And to make it even more challenging, as the customer switches their conversation from their handheld device to a store clerk, the shopper expects the new conversation to have continuity and a consistent experience. Rather, the shopper is establishing a connection with a brand experience in an Omni-Channel world. So it seems fitting at Enterprise World, we are unveiling our innovations in Customer Experience Management, in particular our Tempo Social release, and announcing the Experience Suite. Tempo has enhanced information sharing between users and systems in a new and friendly user interface. With the new Experience Suite, organizations will be able to deliver a consistent and compelling digital experience with content that is relevant, contextual and rendered correctly across multiple channels, devices or applications. Built on open standards like HTML5 and Responsive Design capabilities, the savvy marketer can implement true Omni-Channel pathways. Are you ready to take the first step in delivering Omni-Channel experiences?

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OK < EXCELLENT = $$$

Recently I had an opportunity to join Marci Maddox, our VP of Marketing for Customer Experience Management here at OpenText for a webinar focused on the evolving role of the CIO and, specifically, what today’s CIOs need to know about the drivers, challenges and goals of their peers and customers within their companies. Axient, a long standing OpenText partner in Australia and New Zealand, with a strong focus on Customer Experience for the Banking and Financial services markets, is sponsoring a series of webinars to educate and assist their customers in improving business communications, helping them to reach the next level in exceeding customer expectations. Three themes dominated the session: Consumers EXPECT to have a personal rapport with their service providers and REQUIRE that each interaction reflects that customer’s needs and preferences, particularly for mobile and online engagements. The marketplace for all financial services is undergoing a seismic shift with businesses providing new products in unprecedented volumes. At the same time government regulations and safeguards are expanding, creating a double challenge for customers and providers. Aging, disparate and IT-centric systems need to be replaced to meet these demands & opportunities. Systems that push technology to the back and experience to the fore, to enable customer-facing personnel to exercise their skills, will win and retain customers. These points were based on recent research gleaned from industry analysts like Forrester, Gartner and InfoTrends, and have been validated in a series of customer interviews conducted by OpenText. Although many older customers still expect paper-based communications, their experience is anchored in the personal relationships that were established and nurtured over the years by direct engagement between consumer and business. These exchanges not only provide information but also serve to reinforce the relationship. For younger, more mobile and more Internet-engaged customers, a personal relationship is no less important. Developing the trust and faith that anchors the relationship is built not in a face-to-face manner, but from the establishment of a multitude of indirect, online and offline engagements, which incrementally deepens and broadens the relationship. Again, nowhere is this more critical than in finance and banking. As the research shows, Customer Communications Management (CCM) is at the heart of this context-rich, adaptive omni-channel experience. What distinguishes this next generation of CCM is not merely the outlets through which communications travel, but that it seamlessly combines analytics with business process management while utilizing a dynamic media management system to insure that information is delivered as active communications provided with consistency, persistence and common branding. Until recently this vision for “Excellent Experience” may have been viewed as aspirational, however today it has become a business imperative. The challenge for CIOs therefore is to cost-effectively begin the replacement of legacy and specialized systems with applications that span their business needs, empower Line of Business owners and meet corporations’ guidelines and governmental regulations. Done properly, evidence confirms that these solutions provide both immediate cost savings and long-term business growth. This is where companies like Axient and OpenText have partnered to bring together the systems and expertise to meet these challenges. To hear the webinar in its entirety go to: http://www.axient.com.au/form-builder/form/index/form/2178 And to learn more about Customer Communications Management from OpenText visit us at: http://makeastatement.opentext.com

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Driving Innovation & Growth

The growth of unstructured information inside the enterprise is staggering. In fact, experts estimate that over 80 percent of data in organizations is unstructured and is growing at a rate of over 36 percent year-over-year(1). Managing this information across different formats, devices, and applications is a challenge for organizations that’s not going away. There is profound value in this unstructured information. In fact, your company’s future depends on it. How is the enterprise dealing with all of these new data types? Well, according to Forrester, they’re not. In a survey conducted in May of 2013, only 13 percent of the respondents had a formal information management strategy in place (2), which is why we’ve spent the last year focusing our efforts on our biggest synchronized software release to date. Announced at Enterprise World, this finely choreographed release features software advancements across our Enterprise Information Management (EIM) suite designed to help organizations manage huge amounts of data and unlock the untapped value of their information to create competitive advantage. Our latest release features over 300 integration points and stronger synchronization across five suites of software: Content Suite, Process Suite, Experience Suite, Information Exchange Suite, and Discovery Suite. The OpenText Vision: A Holistic View of EIM Let me touch on some of the highlights, suite by suite: Content Suite: will reduce costs through security features, information governance, and content lifecycle management. Innovations include an easier to use interface, APIs, reports, report writer, and Archive in the Cloud. Process Suite: automate processes to improve performance with new Smart Process Apps, including Case Management, Case Intelligence, and flexible deployment on premise or in the Cloud. Experience Suite: create the best possible consistent experiencewith every interaction through enhancements like omni-channel publishing and adaptive media, web and social analytics, ecommerce connectors, and our new HTML5 user experience. Information Exchange Suite: build trust and reliability, and reduce risk with the secure exchange of information from any user on any device to any destination. Innovations include advanced messaging services layer for fax, notification and EDI services, real time audit trails, and data loss prevention capabilities. Discovery Suite: empower people to find, understand, and leverage enterprise information for greater insight and better decision making with solutions for auto-classification, content migration, content analytics, semantic search, eDiscovery – and a CIO dashboard. With our latest release, we’re also introducing AppWorks, common RESTful services, and an EIM developer platform that accelerates the speed of development and introduces opportunities for innovation to our customers and partners. With AppWorks, developers can begin to write code using our suites within hours as opposed to weeks, using standard languages such as Java, JavaScript, and HTML5. The EIM suites outlined above are integrated through AppWorks to leverage the value of combined suites into a comprehensive EIM platform. Support for Sophisticated Information Flows AppWorks builds our holistic EIM strategy by supporting complete and integrated information flows to maximize the value of information across the enterprise. EIM is the next generation of enterprise software. Our latest release delivers a strong technology foundation for our customers to build on and establishes EIM as the mission-critical solution to drive insight, innovation, and growth. (1) Ray Paquet, “Technology Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore”, Gartner Inc., http://www.gartner.com/it/content/1503500/1503515/january_19_tech_trends_you_cant_afford_to_ignore_rpaquet.pdf (accessed 10 Nov. 2012). (2) Alan Weintrub, “The Enterprise Information Management Barbell Strengthens Your Information Value.” ©2013, Forrester Research, Inc: July 15, 2003

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Navigating the Customer Experience at Enterprise World

Ifyou have ever tried to organize a surprise party for your friend, childor significant other, you know it is quite a task to be creative, getjust the right entertainers, plan fun activities for the guests and hopethat they enjoy themselves and your event is all the rage the next dayat work, school or around town. Planningour Customer Experience Management track at Enterprise World is alittle like that surprise party, but on a grander scale, throwing ineducational sessions and one-on-one meetings with customers and partnersas well. Our goal is to provide education, sharing and collaboration, with a bit of fun thrown in. Thisyear’s theme to Ignite, Innovate and Impact your business drove us tofind ways to share our insights with you in three fulfilling days. So grab a coffee, soda, tea or beverage of choice as I navigate the CEM frontier for you. Techie Tuesday Not 1. Not 3. But FIFTEEN discussions just for the techies in our midst! Forthe developer, administrator or technical user of the CustomerExperience Management products, we have organized 3 sessions with anopening topic and 5 tables to delve into your product specifically. At each session, find your table, join your peers and let the learning begin! Table 1: Web Experience Management Table 2: Media Management Table 3: StreamServe Table 4: Portal and Tempo Social Table 5: Web Site Management Session 1: Upgrades – Thistechnical focused section is designed to take a look at the most recentrelease of the CEM products and give tips and tricks to devise anupgrade checklist. Learn about configurations and extensions to streamline your move to the current release. Session 2: Integrations and Extensions – This session will focus on the user experience design and adoption of key extensions and integrations to other products. This deep dive session will discuss how you can extend your products further. Session 3: Architecting Optimization – Get in tune for the next big project with this technical session. Joinother architects to learn keen ways to tune-up your products and learnsome how-to tricks for higher scalability and faster response times ofthe product. CEM Sessions on Wednesday & Thursday Keynotes: On Wednesday, we continue the technical discussion with roadmaps and switch gears for two business level tracks. We begin the day with Main Stage Keynotes from guest speakers and OpenText Leadership. Rightafter lunch, we will host a mini-keynote session for CustomerExperience Management, where we have organized a “View on CEM” for you. The mini-keynote will tease you with discussions that will continue into more in-depth breakout sessions. CEM – Innovation Joining us this year for our mini-keynote is Bruce Temkin. Brucehas been helping companies embrace the customer experience methodologyand will have a TED-Talk like session to enlighten us on the Innovationsin CEM. CEM – Vision Following Bruce will be Anthony Gallo, VP CEM Product Unit, sharing the future of CEM at OpenText and the strategy behind it. CEM – In Action Listen as Hybris shares the customer experience journey through an example of commerce in action. Get inspired to implement some of these key ideas in your industry. CEM round table – Each speaker will then sit down along side a member of the content team at Taco Bell for an in-depth discussion on key challenges facing organizations today and what to do to exceed the customer experience. Breakouts: After the mini-keynote, we will have 4 CEM tracks running simultaneously. Each track is designed to stimulate conversation and interaction with the audience on a variety of topics. Whether you want to continue the technical discussion or look for business oriented sessions, we have something just for you. Track 1: DEFINING a VISION This track is designed to cover the latest roadmaps and map it to the customer journey. ATTRACT – rich media is the hot topic today to attract visitors to your website and build brand awareness. Learn more about Media Management and how media can be woven into WEM, Portal, Social and CCM today. CONVERSION – getting users to click the “buy” button requires good tracking and personalized, relevant content. Look to this session for ideas on the latest features and upcoming capabilities in Web Experience Management and Portal. Web Site Management roadmap is one to watch for with the new release just around the corner. SELF-SERVICE – continuing the customer journey into self-service portals or personalized communications requires key capabilities of StreamServe. Learn about the latest release and what is coming to take document presentment to the next level. ADVOCACY – social analytics, collaboration and sharing are key to keeping customers, partners and employees building your brand further. This session will cover the newest release of Tempo Social and highlight the best features to come! Track 2: PLANNING the JOURNEY This track is geared toward the business user or content owners that are planning their digital experience strategy. Learn from other companies who are on their journey and what hurdles they had to overcome to implement a successful vision. Hasbro will discuss their winning digital marketing program Wells Fargo will share insight into defining and achieving great ROI Seagate will look at overcoming obstacles to deliver a great web experience Hydro Quebec shares their inspiration to the employee intranet Track 3: SUCCESS IN ACTION Next up on the hit parade is customer stories. Keyindustry experts will join forces with OpenText customers to sharetheir insights into achieving value with the OpenText CEM products. MARKETING AUTOMATION: ExactTargettakes a look at what’s happening in the digital marketing world and howthe partnership with OpenText will take rich media and personalizationto the next level. E-COMMERCE: Hybris teams up with Fossil for an interactive discussion on multi-channel commerce strategies INTERACTIVE DESIGNS: Sabrae kicks off with a view into their customer self-service portal and Siteworx discusses how to build a business case for a creative user experience design fit for today’s omni-channel world MEDIA IS THE FUTURE: Oracle and 20th Century Fox share their use of rich media in their organization FROM DOCUMENT PRESENTMENT TO PERSONALIZED COMMUNICATIONS: Irish Dairy Board looks at the value of content a little differently when streamlining their digital communications. We have also planned session on CLOUD, MOBILE and the TEMPO SOCIAL innovations. Innovation and CEM Labs and Meetings Justwhen you thought you had a full agenda, don’t forget to stop by theexpo hall and check out the latest Customer Experience Managementinformation workflow (we like to call the CEM LAB). Here you will find the process of creating, managing, sharing and publishing content all visible in one location. Can’tmake it through the whole story, don’t worry, we have a time table setthat you can pop in and out as often as you can to see it all. Expo Hall: CEM Lab, WEM, Tempo Social, Media Management, WSM pods Innovation LAB: Get your hands on (and give feedback on) a few new UX designs for CEM products Meet the Experts: Just in case you want some 1-1 time with our engineers, product managers, support or services staff on site, you can request meeting times with your favorite experts. As you can see, in addition to the great entertainment we have in store for you with WILLIAM SHATNER¸ there are many different activities to partake in over the course of the week. REGISTER NOW to ATTEND! WE HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!! https://opentext.cvent.com/events/enterprise-world-2013/registration-eab7d5e064c4482ca0d3862bc683a285.aspx

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Finding Our Way with Digital Asset Management

by John Price [This article was also published in CMS Wire, 10/9/2013.] In one sense DAM is all over the map. There are subway style route maps to help you find your way and any number of “journeys” (or at least the “5 Best Ways…”) leading to that digital asset management / customer experience nirvana. With all the consultants, reports, vendors and products out there “enabling” and “empowering” us, how come it feels like we’re stuck in a “Where’s Waldo?” world? [Full disclosure, I work for a vendor, OpenText doing marketing stuff for DAM and Customer Experience Management, CEM.] We all can see how technology and digitization are transforming organizations, even changing societies and cultures. Digital Asset Management has morphed as well. Organizations are recognizing the need for DAM due to the tremendous increase in the amount of digital media in the organization. Back in the day, many organizations could get by with shared drives and the institutional knowledge stored by Earl in graphics. Earl retired, and, after a few website re-launches and brand makeovers, consensus was that there must be a better way. Fast forward to now and in many organizations it’s not which DAM you have but how many DAMs. Marketing, business units, regional and international teams went out to get the DAM tailored for their specific needs. The original problem DAM was supposed to solve was recreated; too many disconnected repositories and silos, and no central repository storing the single source of truth. Add to that the pressure of marketing to many new channels – the omni-channel customer experience – which has created its own challenges. “Mobile is hot, we need to have a mobile customer experience”; “We’re putting up kiosks all around the country we need to produce the content”; “let’s put some links and images in the email campaign”; “How can we get these videos on our Facebook page”. Each new channel needs creation, production, operations and delivery – usually another team to make, manage and move the digital assets. Do We Need DAM? In asking the question it implies there is an alternative, or we take the Luddite approach and go back to file folders, phone calls and couriers. Yes, we still need DAM, in all its wonderful array of many-colored solutions. Despite the market cacophony of products, features and specialized deployments (MAM, PAM, MRM, PIM, PCM, SaaS…), DAM is helping companies be more successful. There are great stories of how DAM has transformed organizations – you likely see it whenever you go online, all those images branding and videos are created, managed and stored, maybe in a DAM. It begins with organizations asking that question, do we need a DAM, do we have the right DAM? Taking on this endeavor, the DAM Champion (DAM Hero?) has a lot of work ahead. It requires understanding the process from initiation, creation, management of the assets, publishing, distribution and metrics. Documenting how things work, who does the work, how different departments are involved, the amount of time and effort for each task, the cost of lost time, duplicated effort, lost opportunity, all of this is critical to start building a business case. In many organizations to get the budget, overcome organizational inertia and resistance to change requires a compelling case to justify the change. Below are some key things that will lead to a successful outcome. Keep these in mind to help find your way: A purposeful strategic vision for digital media in the organization Commitment and buy-in from the organization A partnership with the vendor and integrator for mutually assured success Structured, phased approach Relentless user-adoption, celebrating success Knowing what done looks like Enterprise DAM and Platforms Digital Media workflows and DAM are critical for enterprises and high value brands, allowing them to accomplish their goals in eBusiness and Customer Experience transformation. Every department and business unit has rich media assets and the amount and size of those assets continue to grow. Some rich media, such as video or high definition imagery, are bandwidth intensive. It can also be difficult to find and reuse media if it isn’t properly tagged or archived. By centralizing all of your rich media assets in a common media management repository, the entire organization can repurpose digital assets across multiple channels at a lower cost. As enterprises are stretched to take on more types of media production and distribute into more customer experiences, it requires investment in best-in-class solutions across the digital media value chain. This means continuing to advance the core features of the DAM, as well as to integrate related capabilities. Enterprise DAM, e-DAM, as a platform is not a one-size-fits-all proposition; it implies the flexibility to be purpose-built for the enterprise. DAM is the centralized repository, single source of truth for digital assets, storing all the rich media for the enterprise. E-DAM is a core infrastructure with capabilities to “media-enable” the entire enterprise, especially digital marketing. The rich media assets in e-DAM are delivered to Customer Experience touchpoints adapting to the workflow and conforming the content for consumption. Inside and outside the firewall, e-DAM manages control and access to the final, approved digital assets to be used and consumed. On the other end e-DAM integrates with different creative environments such as video production, graphics, photo and images; each having unique workflows, formats and requirements. E-DAM integrated across creative teams allows collaboration, review and approve processes, extensive search and discover, file check in and out. This is the Create to Consume Information Flow, an integrated stream incorporating the People, Processes and Technology to serve the purpose and goals of the organization. As the velocity of digital marketing increases, information silos and disconnected processes become bottlenecks in the information flow. Interoperability and integration are keys to customer experience transformation. This becomes more important as the amount of data, what is known about the customer, continues to grow. Knowing purchase history and patterns, web analytics, demographics and other data sources provides actionable information to target, segment and personalize communications across experiences. Extending e-DAM using business process management for an orchestrated information flow, integrated with enterprise ERP and CRM systems, provides the intelligence layer for delivering timely, rich and compelling customer experiences. DAM delivers the consistent messaging and branding across channels, contextualized and conformed on-the-fly, increasing engagement and ultimately driving revenue. This is the aspiration of an enterprise DAM ecosystem: multiple media-enabled environments, integrated, interconnected with shared data, and automated data-driven processes supporting the enterprise the Create to Consume Information Flow. It’s a Strategy, Waldo DAM is a great technology solution. It saves time, reduces frustration, increases productivity and provides consistent branding. As it continues to mature, it is asked to do more and more. New features and functionality are bolted on as vendors are compared against checklists. Seeking a technical solution results in requirements, features, functionality and getting more for less – and it’s all over the map. Enterprise DAM is more than just a technology solution. As a platform it takes care of the DAM 1.0 requirements but more importantly it sets a foundation for the future. Enterprises are crafting digital media and marketing strategies taking into account their unique purpose and core competencies to fit together and understand all the pieces in a complex ecosystem. As media permeates all areas of an enterprise, agile, adaptable, and interoperable will be the important features for an Enterprise DAM.

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The Art of Banking: How Financial Services Approach Great Customer Experiences

This is a CMSWire cross post by Deb Miller. During a recent conversation with colleagues from the Financial Services sector, one person challenged: “Is there really anything new and innovative for banking technology, or have we already seen it all?” The lively discussion led to a far more interesting and important question:“Where are banks finding the inspiration and tools to drive customer-focused innovation?”Here are my thoughts on Financial Service Industry (FSI) innovation and how bankers are increasingly taking cues from consumer tech and smart retailers as they practice the art of banking. I see opportunity for bankers to capitalize on changing consumer views of risk and what constitutes a good customer experience. What’s New in Bank Technology? I’m hearing a lot lately about exciting new technologies driving innovation in banking. There are conferences dedicated to the topic, analyst reports and whitepapers being published, webinar series and more. If you Google “technology innovation in the financial services industry,” you get more than 200 million results. A sampling of intriguing hits includes mobile technology that reportedly can save the banking industry US$ 1.5 billion annually, Digital Shadows footprint based cyber-attack protection technology, Virtual Piggy that can support gaming and other social micro-transactions, and my favorites (because they both include awesome dogs) are Simple.com with a cool and intuitive way to save and pay and FloatMoney that helps build interest free credit by shopping (okay, the shopping part is good too). I could go on and on with this list, but as readers of my CMSWire article series know, I really do prefer to start with the customer motivation and let the technology discussion drive from there. While it’s important to consider new external technology forces impacting a market, I like to think first about the desired customer impact, not the technology. So what are banker customer concerns that present opportunities for technology response these days? Here’s my take on what a banker “bucket list” might include: Deal with the loss of customer confidence that came with economic market upheaval Capture and retain clients who have changing attitudes and expectations for online and omni-channel communication Satisfy customers who come armed with their own new technology like mobile, BYOD and social apps Read on for some artful approaches banks are taking to “check off” the list. Banks are reimagining how to create and sustain customer relationships In order to drive customer-focused innovation, banks are reimagining how to create effective customer relationships in today’s environment. For the mega banks, and the banks who inherited customer accounts from them during the market turmoil, dealing with customer confidence means restoring positive experiences. These experiences in the past were often represented by personal relationships and interactions with key bank branch personnel. Now, innovative technology, much of it inspired by consumer and retail examples, can be used to achieve these objectives. For example, case management technology is a perfect approach to preserve the personal service that attracted many bank customers in the first place and at the same time bring down cost to serve. What was perhaps once performed by a representative with a personal relationship with the customer can now be assisted with case management apps that bridge channel, information and process gaps. With this assist applied to account opening and customer onboarding, it becomes possible to “know your customer” not only for compliance but also to intelligently suggest appropriately targeted product options, much like consumer retailers do. This also reduces the transaction costs involved and saves the lost opportunity cost. Case management also enables knowledge workers to innovate, that is, to perform work in their own unique ways to best respond to managing error exceptions as well as unusual circumstances. This is one of the distinctive elements of this technology — the concept that the process participants are at times involved in defining specific actions for a case and at other times involved in responding to actions taken in a case. Rather than modeling the entire business process ahead of time, you have an environment that supports access to information and progression through tasks as needed to achieve the goal. While this is not the same as the unique personal interactions that banks once had with their customers, it does enable more personalized and personal service to occur. The added advantage is that these interactions are now less costly and more streamlined because they are no longer bogged down in a paper chase or manual efforts. Thus fees and rates can be more competitive without sacrificing profitability. Banks are creating value through online experience Changing customer expectations for online banking require that customer experience needs to be consistent and coordinated across channels and yet adapted to specific channel characteristics. It also means that internal processes and interactions must be enabled to support this new omni-channel world. One of the most impressive examples I am familiar with is Wells Fargo who has 275,000 team members using the latest in Web Experience Management (WEM) technology with responsive design, enabling the enterprise to be agile and adaptive to the consumer at the moment they want to engage. This is all about increased productivity and access to information that in turn improves the end customer experience. Another cool example is what mBank is doing with Accenture. mBank is a Polish direct bank that originally launched as a greenfield venture. mBank is trying something new that has foundations in gamification and clever deal offers that mimic the best of Groupon and Pinterest. “By making the site, for lack of a better word, fun, mBank has changed the relationship between bank and customer. This is important in almost any B2C environment and more important when the traditional customer/business relationship in banking has always been vaguely adversarial”. Banks are combining technology in new ways around the customer experience Banks have always been concerned with how to satisfy their different customer demographic segments. Today’s changing customer demographics mean increased challenges to ensure a satisfying experience, and I’m seeing some interesting responses. Social and mobile dynamics figure prominently in this. A recent CEB TowerGroup study found that 42% percent of banking executive respondents now believe that a key value driver of social technology is competitive advantage over others in their industry, while 25% of respondents also think social offers important functionality. Further, 65% rank social networking as a top technology for near-term investment, while 56% rank mobile banking as a key technology for investment. One of my favorite examples has banks innovating by combining new technology with existing technology; ATMs with human teller video chat. NBC news recently highlighted Interactive Teller technology from NCR that is being used to remotely control the ATM and all of its functions. What’s interesting is that the machine can work like any other ATM unless the customer pushes a button to request a human teller. The customer can use all the self-serve menus as normal, but they have the option to call the teller if needed. According to the NBC report, analysts believe it’s critical that customers decide when they want to do a totally self-service transaction and when they want some help. Banks are also experimenting with integrating social and mobile applications and smartphones into the ATM experience. With this, a customer approaches an ATM and launches the application. After the app loads, the customer enters the four digit PIN number tied to their bank account on the smartphone touchscreen. Then once the pin is accepted, the app brings up all bank accounts related to the customer’s account and transactions can proceed. Which came first, the customer or the technology? It’s clear that banks are doing some interesting and artful things with technology these days, and to my mind the truly important “bucket list” innovations are focused around the customer and their experience. Early in my career there was a time when I worked closely with the GE Research & Development Center around new and exciting distributed data processing technologies for banking and commercial industrial use. I was very proud of the work, but when friends would ask what I did at GE, I always said, “I do the quality check to make sure light bulbs really turn off when you close the refrigerator door.” (Okay it seemed funnier back then.) My friends would smile and change the subject, commenting that I must be doing bleeding edge innovative research that required secrecy. The truth was I didn’t think my work would make any sense or be very interesting to them. In retrospect, I should have shared more; not about the technology itself, but about the intended applications and benefits for my business customers and their data-dependent consumers. Fast forward to today and I am much more likely to talk about what I do, but always in the context of what I think it means to my customers. Sure I do get the occasional blank stare and at times responses like, “Blah bah blah, that’s so boring…” but I also often hear, “That’s so cool and tell me more.” Of course maybe my circle of friends has changed.

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This is a CMSWire cross-post. Duringa recent conversation with colleagues from the Financial Servicessector, one person challenged: “Is there really anything new andinnovative for banking technology, or have we already seen it all?” Thelively discussion led to a far more interesting and important question: “Where are banks finding the inspiration and tools to drive customer-focused innovation?” Hereare my thoughts on Financial Service Industry (FSI) innovation and howbankers are increasingly taking cues from consumer tech and smartretailers as they practice the art of banking. I see opportunity forbankers to capitalize on changing consumer views of risk and whatconstitutes a good customer experience. What’s New in Bank Technology?I’mhearing a lot lately about exciting new technologies driving innovationin banking. There are conferences dedicated to the topic, analystreports and whitepapers being published, webinar series and more. If youGoogle “technology innovation in the financial services industry,” youget more than 200 million results. A sampling of intriguing hits includes mobile technology that reportedly can save the banking industry US$ 1.5 billion annually, Digital Shadows footprint based cyber-attack protection technology, Virtual Piggy that can support gaming and other social micro-transactions, and my favorites (because they both include awesome dogs) are Simple.com with a cool and intuitive way to save and pay and FloatMoney that helps build interest free credit by shopping (okay, the shopping part is good too). I could go on and on with this list, but as readers of my CMSWire article seriesknow, I really do prefer to start with the customer motivation and letthe technology discussion drive from there. While it’s important toconsider new external technology forces impacting a market, I like tothink first about the desired customer impact, not the technology. Sowhat are banker customer concerns that present opportunities fortechnology response these days? Here’s my take on what a banker “bucketlist” might include: Deal with the loss of customer confidence that came with economic market upheaval Capture and retain clients who have changing attitudes and expectations for online and omni-channel communication Satisfy customers who come armed with their own new technology like mobile, BYOD and social apps Read on for some artful approaches banks are taking to “check off” the list. Banks are reimagining how to create and sustain customer relationshipsInorder to drive customer-focused innovation, banks are reimagining howto create effective customer relationships in today’s environment. Forthe mega banks, and the banks who inherited customer accounts from themduring the market turmoil, dealing with customer confidence meansrestoring positive experiences. These experiences in the past wereoften represented by personal relationships and interactions with keybank branch personnel. Now, innovative technology, much of it inspiredby consumer and retail examples, can be used to achieve theseobjectives. For example, case management technology is a perfect approach to preserve the personal servicethat attracted many bank customers in the first place and at the sametime bring down cost to serve. What was perhaps once performed by arepresentative with a personal relationship with the customer can now beassisted with case management apps that bridge channel, information andprocess gaps. With this assist applied to account opening andcustomer onboarding, it becomes possible to “know your customer” notonly for compliance but also to intelligently suggest appropriatelytargeted product options, much like consumer retailers do. This alsoreduces the transaction costs involved and saves the lost opportunitycost. Case management also enables knowledge workers to innovate, that is, to perform work in their own unique ways to best respond tomanaging error exceptions as well as unusual circumstances. This is oneof the distinctive elements of this technology — the concept that theprocess participants are at times involved in defining specific actionsfor a case and at other times involved in responding to actions taken ina case. Rather than modeling the entire business process ahead oftime, you have an environment that supports access to information andprogression through tasks as needed to achieve the goal. While this isnot the same as the unique personal interactions that banks once hadwith their customers, it does enable more personalized and personalservice to occur. The added advantage is that these interactions are nowless costly and more streamlined because they are no longer bogged downin a paper chase or manual efforts. Thus fees and rates can be morecompetitive without sacrificing profitability. Banks are creating value through online experienceChangingcustomer expectations for online banking require that customerexperience needs to be consistent and coordinated across channels andyet adapted to specific channel characteristics. It also means thatinternal processes and interactions must be enabled to support this newomni-channel world. One of the most impressive examples I am familiar with is Wells Fargowho has 275,000 team members using the latest in Web ExperienceManagement (WEM) technology with responsive design, enabling theenterprise to be agile and adaptive to the consumer at the moment theywant to engage. This is all about increased productivity and access toinformation that in turn improves the end customer experience. Anothercool example is what mBank is doing with Accenture. mBank is a Polishdirect bank that originally launched as a greenfield venture. mBank is trying something new that has foundations in gamification and clever deal offers that mimic the best of Groupon and Pinterest. “Bymaking the site, for lack of a better word, fun, mBank has changed therelationship between bank and customer. This is important in almost anyB2C environment and more important when the traditionalcustomer/business relationship in banking has always been vaguelyadversarial.” Banks are combining technology in new ways around the customer experienceBankshave always been concerned with how to satisfy their different customerdemographic segments. Today’s changing customer demographics meanincreased challenges to ensure a satisfying experience, and I’m seeingsome interesting responses. Social and mobile dynamics figure prominently in this. A recent CEB TowerGroup studyfound that 42% percent of banking executive respondents now believethat a key value driver of social technology is competitive advantageover others in their industry, while 25% of respondents also thinksocial offers important functionality. Further, 65% rank socialnetworking as a top technology for near-term investment, while 56% rankmobile banking as a key technology for investment. One of my favorite examples has banks innovating by combining new technology with existing technology; ATMs with human teller video chat. NBC news recently highlighted Interactive Teller technology from NCR that is being used to remotely control the ATM and all of its functions. What’sinteresting is that the machine can work like any other ATM unless thecustomer pushes a button to request a human teller. The customer can useall the self-serve menus as normal, but they have the option to callthe teller if needed. According to the NBC report, analysts believe it’scritical that customers decide when they want to do a totallyself-service transaction and when they want some help. Banks are also experimenting with integrating social and mobile applicationsand smartphones into the ATM experience. With this, a customerapproaches an ATM and launches the application. After the app loads, thecustomer enters the four digit PIN number tied to their bank account onthe smartphone touchscreen. Then once the pin is accepted, the appbrings up all bank accounts related to the customer’s account andtransactions can proceed. Which came first, the customer or the technology?It’sclear that banks are doing some interesting and artful things withtechnology these days, and to my mind the truly important “bucket list” innovations are focused around the customer and their experience. Early in my career there was a time when I worked closely with the GE Research & Development Centeraround new and exciting distributed data processing technologies forbanking and commercial industrial use. I was very proud of the work, butwhen friends would ask what I did at GE, I always said, “I do thequality check to make sure light bulbs really turn off when you closethe refrigerator door.” (Okay it seemed funnier back then.) My friendswould smile and change the subject, commenting that I must be doingbleeding edge innovative research that required secrecy. The truthwas I didn’t think my work would make any sense or be very interestingto them. In retrospect, I should have shared more; not about thetechnology itself, but about the intended applications and benefits formy business customers and their data-dependent consumers. Fastforward to today and I am much more likely to talk about what I do, butalways in the context of what I think it means to my customers. Sure Ido get the occasional blank stare and at times responses like, “Blah bahblah, that’s so boring…” but I also often hear, “That’s so cool andtell me more.” Of course maybe my circle of friends has changed.

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Information Right from the Source

Providing high degrees of customer service, while managing costs is a balancing act that is extremely difficult. Customers expect higher degrees of service, across multiple channels, and want to have it 24×7. Meanwhile organizations are under pressure to increase efficiencies and reduce agent and infrastructure costs. Your customers like self-service, but want high touch options immediately if they can’t find what they are looking for. Off-shoring and IVR systems have been tried, but have sometimes resulted in unhappy customers. Unfortunately, now those unhappy customers will go to Yelp or Twitter to talk about their experience, so it is critical to get the balance right. The head of Customer Service must often rely on technology to help them deal with these opposing forces. So in preparation for our launch of Assure for Customer Service, we decided to engage IMTS (Integrated Marketing Services) to help us better understand how customer service professionals use technology to solve their customer services challenges – and get this information right from the source. IMTS contacted 150 customer service leaders at large organizations, and using live interviews, found out some very interesting things. First, they discovered that almost 53 percent of respondents used specialized, in-house developed software to manage their customer service delivery. The rest are using a mix of CRM, BPM, manual (paper or Excel and email), or outsourcing the entire process. The 53 percent was a surprise as the costs of developing specialized applications in-house is typically far greater than buying a solution from a vendor. For those applications, the biggest burden is the maintenance and upgrades. When the business needs the software modified to meet the changing needs of the business it goes to IT for assessment, scoping, prioritizing, developing, testing, deployment and training, and that is usually completed right when business requirements have changed again, and new enhancements are needed. The survey also pointed out that 31 percent of the companies frequently need to go outside of their current system to access information to accommodate the needs of their customers.This means the agents are doing “swivel-chair” customer service, with multiple screens and systems to get all the information needed to manage customer requests. Integrations are expensive and painful with traditional systems, but this puts a serious burden on agents to understand and work across multiple systems in the heat of a customer exchange. Also of interest is that respondents using CRM systems reported various degrees of challenges when escalating service issues, getting access to order information, and supporting internal collaboration to solve customers’ problems. This is not totally unexpected as CRM systems were designed as “systems of record” for customer information, and while they provide significant benefits in information leverage, they were not designed to be strong case management tools, process tools, support broad integrations, or to be real-time collaboration systems. Some are bolting these on now, but they still have a lot of work to do. The need for multi-channel (or “omnichannel”) communications is becoming mandatory, and includes the support for phone, email, chat, SMS, and web portal interchangeably. The survey showed that only 21 percent of the respondents indicated their systems as being extremely flexible to accommodate new and innovative channels of communication. Other notable takeaways from the survey were that a little over a third of respondents felt extremely confident that their customer service system helped them meet all their internal information governance requirements (secure information retention and management), and almost half of the respondents indicated that a “top goal” was to create systems to allow customers to directly submit requests and receive status updates automatically. Details of the survey can be found here, and while it confirmed much of what we intuitively knew, it was great to hear it directly from the mouths of customer service professionals.Assure for Customer Service provides effective ways to deal with all of these challenges, which is why we’re seeing more and more companies deploying it to achieve their objectives of lowering costs and improving customer service delivery.It helps customer service executives find that delicate balance, and sleep a little better at night.

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