Why Real-Time Interaction Management (RTIM)?
When audiences expect recognition and personalisation at every turn, it’s a challenge for brands to keep up. Having the right martech, data, and process in place to create a streamlined, seamless customer journey; and in real-time, is a goal for most. And well it should be.
Gain the ability to recognise your customers in context, across every touchpoint in real-time, and you’ll always be ready to serve the next-best-experience for them uniquely; be it a product recommendation, service message, the answer to a question, or otherwise.
- From a marketing perspective, this allows you to increase lifetime value, build quality customer relationships, and stand out in the market with truly relevant, data-driven interactions.
- For the wider business; having the right data and technology optimised and in place for data-driven action frees resources and ensures the best use of technology investments.
Real-Time Interaction Management (RTIM) is enabled by a combination of enterprise marketing technologies, and provides the capability for an organisation to serve a hyper-personalised, real-time response to customer interaction.
Done effectively, a brand can deliver contextually relevant experiences, offers, and value to each customer, at the right time, via their preferred channel.
So where can brands begin?
Alongside the right data foundations and optimised to integrate with a brand’s other martech, Real-Time Interaction Management (RTIM) solutions play a key role in enabling the real-time insights needed for intelligent decisioning and hyper-personalised customer experiences.
Of course, RTIM is nothing new; over the past decade we have seen platforms evolve and grow, and many brands count platforms such as Pega, SAS Institute, Oracle, and others amid their tech stack. If you are one such brand – or, if you’re looking to include an element of RTIM and decisioning into your processes, what differences should you be aware of between such legacy platforms and other modern solutions? What does RTIM look like in today’s digital experience economy?
Legacy Vs. Modern RTIM Solutions – A Comparison
Before we dive into the details of decisioning, it’s important to note that there’s no ‘right way’. Whether you’re an organisation starting from scratch with RTIM, or one with an existing platform; every brand has unique requirements. Plus, with the right support, existing technologies can be optimised to drive new value and results – a ‘rip and replace’ is not always the answer.
Before plotting the best approach for your business, it’s important to understand some key differences between legacy platforms and more recent RTIM solutions:
1. Digital readiness
Stemming from older technology, legacy platforms, as you would expect may need some optimising and work to align with the digital requirements of today. Often built on-premise, cloud-first may not have been an original priority, meaning older platforms may need some investment to scale and cope with peak capacity.
Modern platforms, however, are largely cloud-native, allowing for rapid client-side and server-side integrations that connect and flex with current and future business data systems, and are designed to allow high throughput for scalability.
2. The total cost of ownership
As largely on-premise based solutions, legacy platforms tend to need higher CapEx investment and upgrades, plus multiple skilled consultants to operate a solution well. Of course, real-time interaction management (RTIM) features may simply be one element of an overall platform investment, so understanding how to optimise an existing legacy solution for the best value is key.
When it comes to ownership cost for modern platforms, investments are often lower; deployed in the cloud and often on a subscription basis, they may be a lower investment option – as long as they align with the use case and other business MarTech accordingly.
2. Time to Value
When we consider modern SaaS and cloud platforms, time to value can be seen relatively quickly. Modern platforms can be switched on in minutes; with a view to have the platform configured, and initial use cases live in a number of weeks that would start returning value back to the business, with further use cases released over time.
On the other side, legacy systems have a longer time to value; with weeks to install, they may take months to establish and years to return value. However, an existing platform may be optimised to return faster value.
4. Data setup complexity
Modern SaaS systems can be there and ready to accept data quickly, they can ingest data from many sources from the outset, and such platforms remove a lot of the old legacy processes of mapping data to specific tightly defined schemas. Again, with modern platforms, it’s possible to have these up and running in weeks, rather than months and years.
5. Real-time context
The ability to handle real-time, in the moment decisions is critical to serve effective next-best-experiences for the customer. While modern systems can take the context of a data-driven event into account and personalise based on next click/ next event, some legacy platforms may struggle or need support to handle real-time in the moment action.
6. Customer Data Insights
Legacy platforms typically follow “black-box modelling”, providing ready made models that may take significant time to understand and tailor to specific use cases. On the other hand, modern platforms allow you to “bring your own” models to take advantage of insights that your own data science team have developed and can be integrated with modern cloud-based systems.
7. Server- and client-side integration
Both modern and legacy platforms will largely allow server-side APIs to integrate into all channels, with support from your IT team. When it comes to legacy vendors, it’s common to only see server-side capability rather than client-side, and if a platform does offer client-side it may not be integrated and not be powered by Decisioning.
On the other hand, modern platforms largely account for client-side capabilities, for rapid deployment into web/mobile web channels by business users with no IT support.
RTIM Now and Beyond – What Are My Options?
Of course, no two brands have the same RTIM requirements. The right approach to decisioning for your brand, be it adopting a new platform, or optimising legacy technology, will be influenced by multiple factors, such as current and future business needs, budget, use case requirements, existing technology capability – and integration with your existing martech among other things. And as we’ve explored previously, an organisation’s starting point with decisioning will depend on the capability and sophistication of the analytical, strategic and operational teams to turn data into actionable insights, design robust decisioning rules and deliver content that resonates with the audience.
As a guide, when considering an RTIM solution, and as outlined in The Forrester Wave™ Real-Time Interaction Management, Q4 2020 report, RTIM customers should look for providers who can:
- Deliver enterprise data and decisioning scalability
- Enrich and optimise cross-channel experiences
- Orchestrate journeys aligned with your brand strategy
If you have an existing solution:
- Recognise that you don’t necessarily want a ‘rip and replace’ but rather should optimise your existing investment.
- Work with an experienced data and martech advisor to maximise your existing investments, and ensure you can draw the best value from your current setup, in line with business goals.
- Follow a decisioning framework for success.
- Identify real-time use cases, put them into a new target system then run and test them to quickly learn what results and value you can see.
If you don’t have a platform in place or are considering a modern solution
- Understand the benefits of decisioning and how RTIM solutions can support your goals.
- Follow a decisioning framework for success.
- Start small, iterate, and make sure you have a solid data foundation to support and build from.
- A robust Identity layer should be considered a ‘must’ do unless you know who you are speaking to otherwise it’s difficult to create those next-best-experiences.
For Competitive Success – Consider RTIM!
According to Forrester:
“RTIM users today are looking beyond integration capabilities that ensure cross-channel consistency. They are demanding — and leading vendors are delivering — even more sophisticated solutions… that incorporate empathy and ethical best practices, and journey orchestration to ensure a mutual value exchange for both customer and brand”.
As we move into an ever more competitive, digital, and customer-centric world, the use of real-time decisioning, AI, and journey orchestration are increasingly critical differentiators. So whatever your starting point or current position on RTIM, now is the best time to consider and optimise your approach!