Skip to main content

3 Key Takeaways from Crawford Technologies' Customer Communications Summit

By: Scott Draeger, SVP Product Marketing & Vertical Solutions 

In May, Crawford Technologies held its annual Customer Communications Summit. Smart Communications was excited to engage with the Crawford Technologies’ team, and proud to participate by delivering a session. This virtual event had a mix of business, technology, and strategy content. The sessions were delivered by trendsetting analysts, leading software experts, and experienced customers with successes to share. Every track was interesting, and we’re lucky it was recorded so we didn’t have to miss simultaneous sessions. 

My takeaways focused on how big moves today will allow organizations to accelerate the future. Throughout the conference, I captured notes and items that I will reflect upon well after the conference. But the top three takeaways from the Crawford Customer Communications Summit focus on legacy technology retirement, accessibility for the long term, and shifting economics in the channel mix.  

Let’s look at them one by one.  

Takeaway 1: Legacy Retirement

My favorite real-world success session was Lincoln Financials’ Bill Jaworski’s session, “Navigating the Transition: Lincoln Financial Group’s Journey from IBM CMOD to Hyland Alfresco.” During this session, Bill had a conversation with Crawford Technologies’ Allan Ronquillo about how the organization transitioned away from IBM’s CMOD document management system to an optimized document management workflow from Highland. He shared technical considerations, best practices, and even some troubles they encountered along the way. 
While the session was valuable on the surface, Bill addressed a common problem. He retired and replaced a long-serving incumbent technology. The amount of force required to displace a long serving, but underperforming, legacy technology component is amazing. Some of the original advocates of legacy technology feel threatened with obsolescence, which feels scary. But Bill was able to navigate the business, technical, and political obstacles in order to deliver an amazing result for Lincoln Financial Group.  

It is always great to hear about successful migrations from legacy technologies. This is helpful, as Smart Communications routinely helps our clients retire legacy communication technology to help organizations improve customer experience, reduce operational costs, and retire technical debt. 

Takeaway 2: Accessibility For the Long Term 

Crawford Technologies has always innovated around accessibility to make communications more inclusive in a way that is cost-effective for the enterprise. There were several sessions that covered the topic well. The Crawford Technologies team keeps up with regulations, and rapidly implements solutions that increase inclusivity without re-engineering the collection of core systems that create and store the communications. 

Insights from Denis Quon and Doug Koppenhofer made an impression on me. While Smart Communications creates WCAG compliant and accessible communications, including with a variety of enhancements available when using the Editions capabilities of SmartCOMM, the compliance is conformant to the time the communication was created. 

Regulations are changing quickly, and communications that are pulled from an archive, re-requested, or regenerated may need to be compliant in the future when standards change. Also, individuals’ needs for accessible content may change, and they will need documents from the past remediated to meet their needs in the present. Document accessibility requires conformance to standards in the future, which was an interesting topic at the summit. 

Takeaway 3: Shifting Economics in the Channel Mix

Andrew Young from Treeline Research presented, “Adapting to Digital Preferences: Enhancing Customer Experience in an Era of Paper Suppression” that explored channel choice in some important new, and nuanced, approaches. His research compared consumer responses to questions about channel preference to business issues on the sender side. While customers continue to respond that they want to choose their channels from a wide array of channels, they do not seem to be as disappointed if those choices are reduced.  

Andrew’s research showed a balance of print suppression data that shows how organizations can deliver effective communications while managing costs. His research identified that enterprises will move faster towards print suppression when a first-class letter costs $0.88 to send, which is roughly three rate increases from now. This should challenge every enterprise’s thinking about how they choose to support channels when one channel’s costs increase as another channel’s costs decrease. 

Looking Forward

By the end of the summit, I had a lot of notes from leaders, experts, and visionaries that will impact my thinking going forward. My session focused on how regulations, AI, and legacy technical debt are strong motivational factors to complete digital transformations as soon as possible. I’m already looking forward to the 2025 Crawford Technologies Customer Communication Summit. 


About the Author 
Scott Draeger is the SVP of Product Marketing and Vertical Solutions at Smart Communications. With a passion for collaboration, and 27 years of experience working with B2B customer communications technology, he focuses on how communications can be better for the recipient and perform better for the business. He started as a document designer using a collection of hardware and software technologies, before moving to the software side of the industry. His broad experience includes helping organizations improve heavily regulated customer communications all around the world.