By: Chris Murphy, VP of Product Marketing, Smart Communications 

Analysts agree that there’s been a major shift to the cloud in the customer communications management (CCM) space – driven by customers’ increasing preference for digital, plus unprecedented levels of innovation in the technology space. As the first CCM provider to fully embrace and harness the benefits of cloud technology, we’re pretty excited (not to mention proud) that the market is following our lead. But this strategic sea-change makes it all the more critical for companies looking to invest in new technology to find resources they can trust to help them make an informed decision. And when it comes to trusted resources in the CCM marketplace, the Aspire CCM-CXM Leaderboard provides in-depth analysis and advice for leading enterprises to make the most informed decisions about their technology investments.

Customer experience (CX) expert, Kaspar Roos, and his global team of market research analysts are highly respected in the CCM and CX industries. Since 2015, the firm has been providing highly specialized independent insights, evaluation and advice to empower enterprises, software providers and business advisories to better understand this evolving market. In fact, Aspire established the Leaderboard to help capture this evolution—and to help businesses understand how various CCM-CXM providers compare on a range of capabilities and strategic direction.

A Dynamic CCM-CXM Assessment Tool that Delivers Deep Insight

The Leaderboard’s interactive capabilities make it easy to visualize where various CCM vendors rank in the market. Users have the added ability to customize that ranking based on a range of factors including business model, CCM maturity, strategic focus, cloud maturity and more. Results can be further filtered based on specific categories and use cases, such as industry, target market and company size, for fine-tuned analysis.

The 2022 Leaderboard has been updated to reflect the changing market. Whereas previous Leaderboards ranked vendors on a single grid, this year’s tool allows users to select from several different grids depending on their organizational needs. In this post, we’ll focus on two of the grids where CCM is the primary focus: AnyPrem and Vendor-hosted SaaS.

At Smart Communications, we believe there is no one-size fits all approach. However, we’ve helped countless customers over the years to evolve from a more traditional, on-premise or hosted model to fully realize and harness the myriad of benefits of a vendor-hosted SaaS CCM solution.

“Cloud is a strong differentiator for Smart Communications. The company was one of the first in the industry to move toward SaaS and it has embraced a cloud-native, DevOps way of working since the mid-2010s” – Aspire Leaderboard 2022

Follow These Steps to Get Started

While the 2022 Aspire CCM-CXM Leaderboard is designed to remove complexity and provide clear analysis to support CCM-CXM decision-making, it does require a few more steps to access than your average static analyst report. Here are some tips to help you navigate the updated Leaderboard and find the optimal CCM solution for your organization.

Step 1: Do Your Homework

The ability to customize this tool is what really sets it apart, so start by getting very clear about what you need. Review any information you’ve already collected in a request for information (RFI). Evaluate all the possible criteria, prioritize feature sets and make sure you have a clear strategic vision so you can look for vendors whose trajectory aligns.

If you’re not sure where to start, ask yourself:

  • What are our key use cases?
  • Which departments will benefit from this investment?
  • What technology will help us focus on what we do best?
  • What does our existing tech ecosystem look like?
  • What core systems are we looking to extend the value of?

With customer expectations changing daily and the digital landscape continuing to expand, cloud is decidedly the way of the future. By adopting a pure cloud solution, companies can deliver seamless customer experiences with dynamic, two-way conversations—at unmatched speed and scale.

What to Look for in an Enterprise CCM Solution

Every organization has unique challenges and goals, and the best solution will align most closely to those needs. However, the things we know are important to end customers today when it comes to communications are often only achievable with cloud—including channel preference, relevance, frequency and timing. A pure cloud CCM solution provides the ability to manage the complexity of omnichannel communications, a holistic view of the customer, rapid response times and seamless integration with core systems, among other capabilities.

Security is always top of mind, particularly for highly-regulated industries such as insurance, financial services and healthcare. Look for a solution with enterprise-grade security and privacy standards such as role-based access, granular permissions and standard certifications. If you’re replacing a home-grown or legacy communications application, it’s also important to choose a vendor that offers migration support to maintain both communications and brand continuity.

The Aspire Leaderboard (and our very own Cloud Buyer’s Guide) include questions you should ask potential vendors. The bottom line is this: legacy on-premise CCM solutions simply cannot meet the moment for enterprises or their customers.

Step 2: Create Your Aspire profile

Now that you know what you’re looking for, you can set up your Aspire profile using our complimentary link. Start by registering to gain access to the Aspire Portal by entering some basic information and choosing a password.

Next, you’ll get an email from Aspire to activate your registration. From there, you can login to the portal and set up your profile. Simply follow the on-screen steps and fill in the requested information about your organization and role. While this takes a couple of minutes, it helps to personalize the experience so you can get the insights you need to make the best investment for your company.

Step 3: Choose Your Own Adventure

Now comes the fun part. Once you’ve completed your profile, you can access the Leaderboard and customize your view. Look for the Segmentation Grid drop-down menu in the top right corner.

For example, if your organization is focused on a cloud-first, SaaS approach, start by selecting Vendor-hosted SaaS CCM from the drop-down menu. This evaluation looks at vendors, like Smart Communications, who have developed cloud-native software offered “as a service,” either using their own data center or by relying on public infrastructure such as Azure or AWS.

One advantage of choosing a SaaS vendor is that they’re responsible for data security, making things like certification, regulatory compliance and privacy-by-design even more essential. In addition, SaaS solutions typically support continuous deployment, also known as evergreen IT, and use agile or DevOps software development methodologies. This makes it easier for companies to spend more time focused on what really matters—engaging meaningfully with customers—and less time on software (and hardware) maintenance.

aspire ccm-cxm leaderboard

For organizations looking to deploy a CCM solution that’s either on-premise or in a hosted, public, virtual private or hybrid cloud configuration due to security requirements, choose AnyPrem CCM Software assessment from the drop-down menu.

Many of the vendors in this grid “have reworked and repackaged their legacy CCM solutions for containerized, serverless environments.” Smart Communications appears in this grid, however, because we have adapted our cloud solution to work in a hybrid fashion – keeping all customer data within an organization’s domain – while still being able to benefit from all that a cloud solution offers. We recognize that customers are all on a cloud journey—and we have multiple options depending on where you are on that journey, and a pathway to get you to the next phase when you’re ready.

“All in all, Smart Communications has had a very good 2021 and continues to align its development with the direction of the market.” – Aspire Leaderboard 2022

As an established thought leader in customer communications, Aspire has identified an additional emerging category that they’re calling Communications Experience Management or Communications Experience Platforms (CXM/CXP). This is another assessment to consider.

According to Aspire, these vendors have combined CCM software with other CX systems—for example, business intelligence dashboards, customer data platforms, marketing automation, journey visualization and orchestration, and multi-variate testing. The CXP grid assesses both technology vendors and service providers who offer these capabilities as part of a single cloud (SaaS or AnyPrem) or hosted managed services platform.

Step 4: Customize. Prioritize. Assess. Repeat.

The best approach for your organization depends entirely on your unique requirements, strategic priorities and cloud maturity. While we’re proud to have paved the way for the shift to cloud in CCM—and that Aspire is recognizing this evolution—the beauty of the Leaderboard is that it dynamically responds to what matters to you.

As a trusted industry advisor, Aspire has analyzed and segmented the capabilities, strategy and market presence of multiple vendors to help you make the best possible decision. You can keep fine-tuning the assessment based on different use cases, priorities and strategies, and then save your filtered view for each grid you create. You can even create customized URLs to share with colleagues and reference as you continue to research technology options. The Leaderboard also includes customer quotes and vendor content, so be sure to check out the vendor profiles as well.

The Power of Dynamic, Specialized Insights for Informed Decisions

Investing in a new technology solution or platform is a big decision—and a challenging one. That’s why we’re excited to share this dynamic tool with organizations at any stage of the CCM journey to help you make an informed decision and achieve your strategic goals.

At Smart Communications, we pride ourselves on delivering business value and innovation to enterprise organizations across industries and borders, so you can have SMARTER two-way conversations with your customers. As the only company enabling enterprises to deliver personalized, omnichannel conversations across the entire customer experience, we believe we are uniquely positioned to help you engage more meaningfully, embrace the digital-first world and achieve your strategic goals. And, we’re thrilled that the most trusted advisor in our industry agrees.

“Smart Communications is an excellent fit for enterprises in the market for a modern and high-quality cloud-based CCM solution, especially for complex interactive use cases in addition to batch.”– Aspire Leaderboard 2022

Ready to Start Assessing?

Register now to access the 2022 Aspire CCM-CXM Leaderboard.

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