I have been on the technical side of client communications for over 25 years. I have always enjoyed being a bridge between technical and business users, but one of the more difficult conversations that kept coming up was, ‘Why is my simple change going to take so long or cost so much?’ or put in other words, ‘Why is it so hard to change a full stop?’.
Perhaps, coming from a point of view that creating communications is essentially a simple process much like creating an email in Outlook, business users have been looking for the simple solution:
It’s the tools – if we just buy the latest composition engine with a friendly editor all the pain will go away
It’s the people – the challenge must be with our IT department – let’s outsource it and make all the pain go away
It's not that easy
The reality is that data driven communication can be very complex. Getting correspondence to a customer involves integrating a range of technical components such as data extract, composition, archiving and delivery systems.
Even the process of creating documents with templates typically involves many business rules and can go very wrong if not tested properly. The move to digital channels has unfortunately increased the complexity with business needing to deal with formatting communications for multiple channels.
The communication process is an interesting blend of technology and art with people from creative and technology backgrounds coming together to create the finished product. This normally also happens under time pressure as communications are often the last item on a project’s agenda. Updating a communication requires the design skills to make it look right and the tech skills to ensure that the data on the page is what you want. This all needs to be wrapped up in a change control process that takes the new template all the way from development through to production without breaking anything else.
Added to the complexity we have risk. When things go wrong with communications the results are very visible - think of those embarrassing email apologies from corporates about wrongly delivered messages. The result is that the change management process is often complex, hard to navigate and built on a one-size-fits-all model, resulting in our changing the full stop problem.
I spent over two decades helping large organisations install best of breed software to improve the communications process. A few things became apparent:
We were constantly re-inventing the wheel as each organisation needed to build its own integration of components to get client communications working as well as a change management process.
Most integrations were not optimal as compromises were made due to budget or time constraints.
The focus was to get things working rather than making it simple for the business to easily manage change to correspondence.
The advent of Cloud Computing, and for me personally, Microsoft Azure’s entry into Australia opened the opportunity to create a single re-usable solution that focusses on ease of use. We established Airdocs with the objective of creating a SaaS Solution that comes ready-to-go and enables the business to focus on communication with their customers rather than building complex integrations or fighting with internal processes.
By automating workflows and making it easy to test, we have significantly reduced the turnaround time and cost for changes. Changes can be quickly made and deployed - changing a full stop no longer takes weeks or months – it can be done in hours.
The really exciting part about multiuser cloud is that as we can continue to focus on making it simple, all platform users benefit from the reductions in cost and time it takes to change a full stop.
Written by James McLeman
Chief Technology Officer
I am responsible for Airdocs’ architecture, platform development & solution design. My speciality is high volume, data driven document management for 30 years now. I am passionate about merging the worlds of high-volume client correspondence & the new cloud-based SaaS technologies to make real personalised communication available to the organisations large and small.
If you have any thoughts or comments, please post in the comments box below or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org