I recently wrote that Infor aims to reinvent business applications and its new developments make it a vendor to watch. I was therefore intrigued to have a demonstration of its latest marketing products, Infor Epiphany and Infor Orbis Marketing Resource Management. These are grouped on its website under customer relationship management, and I don’t usually spend much time on this category of products since for my research it is too inwardly focused and doesn’t impact the customer experience a great deal. However this briefing showed that for Infor it is not that simple.
On the surface both products seem rather conventional. Epiphany is an outbound marketing product that supports customer segmentation, list management, campaign execution, real-time triggers and events, reporting and analytics and predictive models. Orbis is a marketing resource management product that supports activity planning, capacity management, digital asset management, dynamic art creation (which helps create digital content), production workflow, creative approvals and marketing and financial analytics. In combination they enable companies to manage and assess the end-to-end process from setting up marketing campaigns to identifying the outcomes. But there is more. To meet the challenges of more complex marketing in today’s digital world, Infor’s Digital Multi-channel Marketing Suite combines these products with its Sales, Service and Interaction Advisor products. This package addresses customer experience management in an effort to create an omni-channel customer experience.
My latest research into the next-generation customer experience confirms that companies have to support multiple channels of communication to keep up with consumers’ changing communication habits; this trend has accelerated in the last few years. These changes make it essential for companies to reassess their marketing, sales and customer service strategies. For example, digital customers don’t see ads on TV or in newspapers (having both downloaded to their smart devices, they can skip ads), and email or postal mail from unfamiliar sources goes straight to the junk folder or the trash. Marketers therefore have to use alternative channels and fill them with eye-catching, personalized content to stand a chance of reaching their targeted audience. But the omni-experience requires more than supporting multiple channels. It also requires:
- consistency of response across business units
- content presented in the context of the customer journey (for example, a specific campaign aimed at the segment the customer fits into), of the channels used and across interactions (for example, personalized content in an email should be carried forward to a personalized web page and into a chat or conversation with a contact center agent)
- personalized content that is directly relevant and timely.
To achieve all three objectives requires blending various technologies: multichannel communications, marketing, sales and customer service applications, analytics to produce of complete view of the customer and the outcome of interactions, a desktop application that makes it easy for agents to find the information and access the systems required to resolve interactions, and collaborative software that allows agents to collaborate with an “expert” if they are not able to resolve the interaction themselves. Infor’s response to this challenge is Customer Interaction Hub. While it doesn’t directly manage communication channels, through the Infor integration platform ION it is able to capture interactions and create a single repository from which interactions can be put into context. It is also used to create a single view of the customer containing records of interactions and application transaction data from marketing, sales, customer service and other business applications. This can be input for Interaction Advisor, which uses the information and a rules-based engine to optimize responses to interactions. And all systems and information can be accessed through a single desktop application that has been designed to support all types of users. Additionally the Infor collaboration application Ming.le enables approved users to collaborate on resolving interactions. Thus the company offers a comprehensive suite of applications that support proactive customer experience management.
My research into next-generation customer engagement finds that most companies struggle to engage with “old fashioned” customers as well as new digital customers, and at the heart of the issue is integration – of people, processes, information and systems. The Infor digital marketing suite goes beyond CRM as its Customer Interaction Hub blends marketing, sales, customer service and other applications into a package that enables proactive engagement across all touch points; its analytics can assess the performance of it all. There is no doubt that more needs to be done, but organizations should look at Infor and its comprehensive customer experience management offering.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director - Customer