For years, decades really, legacy solutions have dominated the document storage and retrieval arena for customer communications management (CCM) documents. Although domination of this niche market seems to be changing, I think it’s important to fully understand what CCM means in this context.
Customer Communications in this context means those items that are received by consumers in a potential variety of formats. Bills, invoices, statements, other financial documents and communications as well as health care insurance explanations of benefits are all examples of customer communications management documents. Originally, these documents were stored as paper, then as microfilm and microfiche and today as electronic files.
As business and industry moved from storing documents on paper and film for regulatory and legal purposes to electronic storage, it became possible for those organizations to make these documents available directly to consumers through web sites and web portals, thereby improving customer services and reducing costs at the same time.
The original, legacy document storage and retrieval systems were developed and deployed to replace paper and microfilm in the early to mid-1990s. Many of these systems were developed and installed on large, complex mainframe computing systems that used proprietary formats as storage mechanisms. Just as the mainframe has been largely replaced by less costly and less complex mid-range and distributed computing systems – the document storage and retrieval systems developed for the mainframe is also being challenged by newer technology without proprietary hardware, software or storage formats.
More than just a place to store customer communications documents, these newer systems use open formats for storage, are significantly less complex, run on new distributed computing platforms and many of them are cloud native. Reducing maintenance and administrative costs are only some of the potential promises these systems may provide.
By consolidating the storage of all customer-based documents and data in one place, on a common system, additional benefits may be derived. The ability to extract data that relates to past purchases, medical history, demographic analysis and a host of other analytics can be used to develop customer benefit and marketing programs.
It’s not just document storage anymore – unlock the value of the data in those stored documents. The newer system offerings may not replace the mainframe but they certainly deserve investigation.