We are commonly asked by clients, new to loyalty, "What technology should we integrate, and how long will it take?" The question has roots in both budgeting (how long = how much) as well as expected timing until the program’s launch. The simple answer comes from looking at the old Iron/Golden Triangle of Development; Pick two: Time / Budget / Features. 
 

 
  • Time: Is it important to launch by a certain date? Many retailers and travel/hospitality companies need to launch around major holidays or back-to-school. Financial services typically begin the process around fiscal or new year dates.  
  • Budget: As this is always a concern, sometimes it is not one of the two major drivers. Some clients need to lock in approval early to get budget dollars allocated to the project. At this point, asking for more money is neigh-impossible. Others have a number for the full project and need to juggle technology along with marketing campaign materials. 
  • Features: Clients new to loyalty often are either trying to hit the ground sprinting; the competition has already entered the loyalty space and our client is missing out by not being there first. Otherwise, old, lack-luster programs need to innovate in order to save the business. 
If you have had a program launch already, you could look at them and can pick out the two that were the most important to your organization. But what does your selection mean for the other corner of the triangle?
  1. Time/Budget: Launching by a certain date, with an iron-clad budget, usually means you are looking at a Minimum Viable Product launch. MVP launches are also termed: Phased Launches / Test Launches / Proof of Concept. However it is classified, the results are the same, what can we get into market to begin to see value, but not blow our budget? The program will grow after launch based on how the data is captured and studied. Features will be added slowly as their value is proved and new budget is allocated.  
This is often where I see new loyalty programs fizzle out. If the program does not meet the members needs at launch, they will join in a big peak and stop using the program in an equally large valley. 
  1. Time/Features: Launching by a certain date, with the "right" features often is the result of hitting the market before a certain holiday, conference, etc. or is because an over-zealous communication went out and now the 'doers' need to satisfy the commitment.
Clients who use this combo have often said, "throw more bodies at the problem!" and are looking for a platform with as much pre-built features as possible. SaaS platforms do well with these clients. To be successful here, plan to dedicate internal teams to the project for the duration; it must be the top priority (from the top down) for the duration of the project. 
  1. Budget/Features: Launching with select features and a certain budget clients typically have a loyalty program in market already. They are looking to Aimia to replace their old, worn-out, technology with something that is easier to work with but with no loss of functionality. Their current program is working just fine, but they have had it with their current provider and need to find efficiencies in internal execution to continue to innovate for members. 
The biggest sticking point with this kind of launch is adherence to, "How we've always done things." Looking for a partner that will revolutionize execution internally but does things the 'exact same way' is ludicrous. With change comes change. Partner with your loyalty provider to learn how you can provide the same great service and offers with the new system. Things will be different, but different is good! Why else are you switching?

Realization as to what your company's driving factors are and being able to stick with them are critical to the success of your project. 


Scott Shurson is IT Consultant at Aimia.

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