Stefan Schönenberger says your product offering should evolve with your customers


Stefan Schönenberger, CIO at Communication Genetics (CG) says CIOs should regularly review the CCM strategy to adapt to changing customer preferences.

As the fast-paced technology landscape continues to evolve, customer communication strategies (CCM) are hot on its heels. In recent times, enterprise content management (ECM) has become the new popular kid on the block. With its capacity to capture, store, activate, analyse, and automate business content, ECM unlocks value from previously unstructured and inaccessible data. Stefan Schönenberger, CIO at Communication Genetics, recognises the significance of this transformation firsthand.

The tech aficionado with a passion for aviation

If Communication Genetics’s assertion that the CIO should play a pivotal role in continuously evaluating the CCM journey is to be considered, it is equally important to understand what makes the CIO, Stefan Schönenberger, tick. After all, he is the man who has been given the responsibility of leading the clients’ customer communication strategies (CCMs) and enterprise content management (ECM) journeys successfully across the finish line.

He describes himself as a geek at heart. “I love technology and am always looking out to see what the world is doing with regard to technology, over and above the work I do,” he says.

Stefan has taken an interest in large language models (LLMs). He’s currently working on a project to create the ability to essentially run your own ChatGPT locally on your personal computer. “You can download a large language model and tell it what character it is, and what character you are. If you have a great sense of humour, you could prompt it to give you very light-hearted responses or ask it to write children’s stories or assist with school projects,” he says.

While Stefan keeps his mind sharp, he also tries to keep his body active. He enjoys cycling in his spare time, and spending time with his 10-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son.

“To explore my adventurous side, I’ve recently done an introductory course in flying aircraft. I gave it a bash, and I love it!” he says. “I might actually go for my pilot’s licence.” Stefan flew with an instructor and was given the opportunity to take off and land the plane – flying from Lanseria to Hartbeespoort Dam.

Controls and audit trails

Communication Genetics is a huge player in the CCM space with the financial services sector (the big banks) as their main clientéle.

“For improved document security, compliance, and workflow efficiency, the implementation of robust access controls, version control, automated audit trails, and real-time analytics can strengthen ECM solutions,” says Stefan, adding that both CCM and ECM tools can help maintain regulatory compliance standards and minimise risks associated with document management and preservation practices.

“Regulatory compliance is essential in many industries, particularly finance, healthcare, legal services and public administration,” Stefan explains. “By leveraging CCM and ECM tools, firms can improve document classification, capture, retention and retrieval functions, making it simpler to adhere to statutory requirements and avoid penalties. Moreover, these technologies can promote more systematic and defensible recordkeeping practices.”

However, let’s not forget how AI and automation can also be leveraged in this space. “Automation technologies are becoming increasingly common in CCM and ECM environments,” Stefan observes. “For instance, robotic process automation (RPA), optical character recognition (OCR), intelligent document classification (IDC), and intelligent document routing (IDR) tools can expedite and enhance routine tasks, such as document scanning, categorisation, indexing and routing.

As such, employees focus on higher-value activities that demand greater cognitive and emotional input.

At a practical level, Stefan says, social media and chatbot data sources provide rich sources of insight about customer preferences, needs and behaviours. “By applying NLP techniques to analyse social media feeds and chatbot interactions, companies can identify patterns, trends and anomalies that help them develop better marketing campaigns,” he adds.

The security layer

“It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution,” a renowned futurist once said. These words ring true, especially true when it comes to safeguarding confidential customer data – in other words, looking at the cybersecurity element of CCM and ECM.

Cybersecurity concerns must be addressed during every stage of CCM and ECM implementation, according to Stefan, from initial design and all the way through to final deployment.

“CCM and ECM providers should incorporate measures such as encryption, authentication, authorisation, access controls, audit trails, threat detection mechanisms, disaster recovery plans and back-up strategies. Companies should also adopt best practices for identity and access management, network segmentation, endpoint protection and patch management,” he continues.

Nevertheless, the CCM and ECM journey is not immune to threats. “There are several challenges that can arise while implementing CCM and ECM solutions in an organisation,” Stefan explains. “First, the challenge could be data migration from existing repositories, which might lead to data loss and version control issues.

“Second, the integration of these technologies into legacy systems which may require extensive customisation and testing. Security concerns such as user access permissions and confidentiality could also become a major issue if not properly addressed.

“And finally, there’s a need for adequate training and support for end users, to ensure effective adoption and usage of the new tools,” he concludes.

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