The Datalogics Motto – Where Experience Delivers

Xplor President/CEO Skip Henk Interviews Matt Kuznicki, CTO of Datalogics

Datalogics is relatively new to the Xplor world, exhibiting for the first time at Xploration 17 earlier this year. That said, I reached out to Datalogics’ Chief Technology Officer, Matt Kuznicki, and asked him to introduce himself and Datalogics to the Xplor community.

Based in Chicago, Illinois, Datalogics considers themselves the premier source for PDF and eBook technologies in the industry. I won’t go into more detail than that as Matt gives us a great overview below. However, I do want to introduce you and tell you a little about Matt himself.

Matt Kuznicki is responsible for product development and engineering. He serves as a recognized expert in document applications, eBooks, electronic documents and the PDF file format. Matt is also a member of the board and Chairman of the PDF Association, as well as the US Technical Advisory Group on document management applications (ISO/TC 171 SC 2), and active in the PDF standards and technical communities.


Skip: Tell us a little bit about the company itself and a bit about its history?

Matt:  Datalogics, Inc. is based in the great city of Chicago, and we are proud to be able to say that we have recently celebrated our 50th year in business. We consider ourselves the premier source for PDF and eBook technologies. We were founded in 1967 and started as a small independent software firm, in the era of reel tapes and punch cards. We’ve come a long way from those days, and now leverage tools like Agile and GitHub to keep up-to-date with new ideas in the IT community. Our primary goal when we first started, which still rings true today, has been to surpass our customer expectations by providing them with innovative features and new product updates to meet their needs.

Datalogics offers solutions that include a wide range of powerful PDF and eBook technologies for .NET, Java, and C/C++ developers. We are a partner member of the PDF Association and I have the honor of being chairman of the PDF Association. Datalogics is also a member of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Readium Foundation.

Skip: Give us some history and context about why PDF has been and continues to be so widely accepted and used as a standard document format?

Matt: PDF has continued to be an ISO standard-driven document format; the PDF format provides consistent interoperability for users, facilitating the creation of portable documents and ensuring reliable interchange. Furthermore, regulated industries continue to require and utilize specialized versions of PDF such as PDF/A (archive) or PDF/X (graphics/print).

As further validation that PDFs continue to be a widely-used document format, based on a PDF Association Technical Conference presentation as of October 2015, there were about 1.6 billion PDF documents on the web, 60% of non-image attachments in Outlook Exchange Enterprise were PDF documents, and conservatively there might be 2.5 trillion or higher PDF documents created each year.

Skip: Where is PDF headed next, and how will it continue to be relevant?

Matt: Since one of PDF’s strengths is its focus on longevity – the ability to use PDF files far out into the future – I believe it’s a good thing that PDF doesn’t undergo drastic change very often. While it’s tempting to focus on new technologies, often times users and adopters of unproven document technologies can find themselves stranded when the hype cycle dies down and they are left with large investments in formats that fail to gain traction. With PDF, there is a broad ecosystem of tools and workflows that ensures the vitality of PDF for the decades to come.

PDF 2.0 is an exciting development that represents an evolution of PDF, one that preserves compatibility with earlier versions of PDF as much as possible. We anticipate that PDF 2.0 will be used first in closed-loop workflows, as end users gradually adopt PDF 2.0-compatible viewers. While many of today’s PDF viewers can view most PDF 2.0 files, new features of PDF 2.0 will take some time to be adopted. We expect that there will be a transition over the next several years, if not longer, as document creators gradually add support for PDF 2.0 creation to their software.

In fact, Datalogics is happy to announce our donation of an initial set of example PDF 2.0 files to the PDF Association. We are proud to help the PDF Association in their mission of providing technical resources and education to PDF practitioners. These PDFs are specially constructed to be readable even to those who aren’t yet PDF experts, and are based in part on PDFs Datalogics has built for our own in-house educational programs.

Skip: What are some key things you should consider when choosing/evaluating a partner/vendor for PDF technology solutions?

Matt: A PDF solutions provider/vendor should be active in the PDF community and be advocates for their users in the broader community by helping to move PDF forward. This ensures that PDF continues to address and solve new business problems while making sure that the needs of current users are also not ignored. PDF vendors should also enable users to solve their problems effectively by providing intuitive, simple and implementable solutions for both common and complex problems, while still adhering to the PDF standards specification.

All these points mentioned above are hallmarks of Datalogics’ strengths. We provide PDF technologies and document solutions to a wide range of industries and businesses and offer unparalleled support and expertise. We have dedicated Technical Support Engineers who are available to our customers and prospects during the evaluation process. We also offer many other resources such as our knowledgebase, customer portal, blog, technical service bulletins, and our development site which include documentation, code samples and release notes. We are also active participants in the various developer communities including Stack Overflow where we have the “Adobe-PDF-Library” and “PDF-Java-Toolkit” tags to help facilitate knowledge sharing.

Skip: Matt, I thank you for taking the time to share with our readers more about Datalogics and your thoughts on PDF. Any closing thoughts?

Matt: Just want to thank everyone for taking the time and be sure to check out our website at www.datalogics.com. Perhaps we can do business together in the future with some of you!

Skip: Once again, thank you for your time and for your ongoing support of Xplor International.


I want to go ahead and plug Datalogics as well as our upcoming show by saying I hope all our readers will check out the Datalogics booth at Xploration 18! The show will take place April 17-19, 2018 in Orlando at the Rosen Plaza. Datalogics will be in booth 9. Stop by and say hello, their team will take great care of you!

Until next time! Take care.

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Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

How the EDP Certification (and the M-EDP Designation) can Help you Personally and Professionally

An Interview with Paul Abdool, M-EDP, Student Advocate and Student for Life
By: Skip Henk, EDP – CEO of Xplor International

I had a conversation with Paul recently who shared an interesting story regarding his EDP designation that I asked if he would share with everyone. A story that shows professional certification not only benefits companies and your resume, but can help you even on a personal level.

Paul is currently Vice President of Sales at Doxim and has been a part of the Xplor community for many years. Based out of Toronto, Paul began his participation as a local Canadian region board member and joined the Xplor International board a short time later. Eventually, Paul became the Chairman of the Board for a couple of terms and now once again sits on the Canadian region board.

He was the driving force behind Ryerson University becoming Xplor’s first Student Chapter. Paul has been to numerous Xplor events, both in Canada and the U.S., attained his EDP in 2004, and topped it all off with his Master EDP (M-EDP) in 2014.

Skip: Paul, thank you for taking the time today. Paul, I know you are very passionate about the EDP Program and are very proud of your M-EDP designation.

Paul: I certainly am as I can always be seen at industry events wearing my EDP pin!

Skip: When did you get your EDP and what drove you to strive for it?

Paul: I received my EDP in 2004 and my M-EDP in 2014.  I was encouraged by a few Xplorers that I really respected.  For the fun of it, I had a side bet with someone in 2003 that I would finish it by 2004.  I won!  In many ways!

Skip: What does it mean to you personally to be an EDP?

Paul: As a young Xplorer at the time, it elevated my credibility prior to getting grey hair.  Those who knew about the EDP Certification instantly had positive thoughts about my knowledge.  When I explained it to others and they saw my EDP pin, they understood that my knowledge about our industry was well-rounded.

Skip: Has the certification helped you professionally throughout your career?

Paul: Yes, but it is hard to separate the EDP certification from Xplor.  The association’s educational forums that comes prior to earning an EDP probably outweighs the EDP certification, however, the process of acquiring the EDP and the possession of it, has been very positive for my career as well.

Skip: Share the story that you mentioned in our previous conversation?

Paul: To earn my M-EDP, I contributed 2 chapters to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge (EDBOK) and was on the committee to finish the book and get it out.  I was very proud of that work and the best part was being a published author.  This was key to getting a work visa in the USA when I switched jobs to a company that did not have employees in Canada.  One of the criteria that they look for is being published which my M-EDP fulfilled.

Skip: Who do you think should attain their certification?

Paul: I believe that young people in our association and people looking to advance their careers should get it.  The EDA which is the stepping stone to the EDP is great but all of those EDA holders should finish the journey and get that EDP.

Skip: Thank you very much Paul for taking the time. I look forward to seeing you at Print 17 in Chicago at the keynote breakfast panel!

If anyone has any additional questions regarding the EDP Certification program, please visit www.xplor.org/edp and take a look around.

Until next time! Take care.

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Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Harry’s Corner – Here We Go Again – “6-2-5” is Back

Submitted by Harry Stephens, President/CEO of DATAMATX
June 19, 2017

In my experience, few things are more true than the fact that knowing you need to do something—and then actually doing it—are two very different things. There is perhaps no better example of this than the longstanding (and ongoing) conversation about the financial difficulties of the U.S. Postal Service and what to do about them.

I read two articles on the subject in the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal this past month, reporting that the latest entrant into this often controversial conversation is President Trump, by way of his 2018 budget plan. The plan leaves the door open for reducing the current six-day mail delivery “where there is a business case for doing so.”  You can expect that if this proposal materializes it will be met with upset, just as it did when then Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe attempted to unilaterally end Saturday mail delivery in 2013. That attempt stirred up strong resistance from members of Congress and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, among others, and ultimately failed. Since then, proposals to address the Postal Service’s financial woes have not included reducing delivery.

Back in 2008, I floated the idea in this column of eliminating Wednesday delivery, recognizing that direct mailers prize Saturday delivery, when most of us are at home and have more time to look at our mail. Then in 2009, I wrote another column urging the need to take a hard look at eliminating Saturday delivery, and to step forward and propose other cost-cutting ideas if you have them.  Mail is important to all of us for many different reasons, so I am sure reducing mail delivery is still a difficult pill for many to swallow. However, I continue to maintain it may be a necessary step to help end the financial struggles of the USPS, which have been a problem for more than a decade now. We need to accept that we are going to have to reach a compromise somewhere. Corporate enterprises as well as postal customers, especially rural America, may have to give up something to keep postage rates affordable.

We all know that having a difficult problem to solve can be overwhelming and even paralyzing. But even taking small steps can make a difference. It reminds me of a story I like about a little boy on a beach littered with washed-up starfish. As the boy was throwing them back in the water one by one, a man came up to him and said, “Son, what are you doing? There are thousands of starfish on this beach. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy picked up a starfish and threw it in the water and replied, “It made a difference to that one!”

Of course, eliminating one day of mail delivery—whether that day is Wednesday or Saturday or another option—won’t solve all the financial concerns of the USPS. But when you consider that it will take carriers off the road for one day a week, and the savings that will be realized in terms of labor costs, gas and truck maintenance, it will certainly make a difference. And for that reason alone, I think it is worth talking about again.

My fundamental point has been and still is this: The financial viability of the USPS isn’t just the USPS’ issue to solve. It is an issue for everyone who relies on the mail, whether for business or personally. It is our issue, and I think the one thing we can agree on is that something needs to be done to address it. The problem is that actually doing something, as we all know, is a very different thing.

Until next time – Harry

Harry Stephens


Harry Stephens is President/CEO, and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation’s largest privately held, full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. As an advocate for business mailers across the country, Stephens is actively involved in several postal trade associations.  He serves on the Executive Board of the Greater Atlanta Postal Customer Council, Board Member of the National Postal Policy Council (NPPC), Member of Major Mailers Association(MMA), and member of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service.  He is also immediate past president of the Imaging Network Group (INg), an association for Print/Mail Service Bureaus.  As an expert on high-volume print and mail, he has frequently been asked to speak to various USPS groups, including the Board of Governors, about postal reform and other issues affecting business mailers.  Find more information about DATAMATX at www.datamatx.com

Xplor International and International Sign Association …. Why?

By: Skip Henk, EDP – CEO of Xplor International

On April 20, 2017 Xplor International will be sponsoring an educational session, targeted to wide format printers at SIGN EXPO 2017. The session being held April 20th from 2:30-3:30 pm is part of a great educational program put together by ISA.

Since the announcement, I have had several members ask me why ISA? What does  Xplor and ISA have in common?

I have spoken many times about my theory that lines continue to blur between technologies.

  • That data differentiates applications
  • Data is simply dots on a media
  • One day there will be an “output center”, a kind of an expanded “in-plant” that will handle all output whether print or digital on all media

So back to ISA: The event which attracts approximately 20,000 attendees and features 600 exhibitors. It is a BIG event. Peeling back the onion:

  1. The event attracts a lot of printers, certainly a great target audience for Xplor education.
  2. There are many wide format vendors, from our space, that exhibit at ISA
  3. There are attendees looking for inkjet.
  4. There is an opportunity for Xplor to provide inkjet educational programming.
  5. Wide format and effective use of data, can be a great opportunity for ISA attendees.
  6. No organization knows data as well as the Xplor Community.

So, what does data and wide format printing have in common? Data allows versioning, segmentation, barcoding, QR codes, augmented print and more.

The session Xplor is sponsoring will be presented by Pat McGrew, M-EDP, CMP and is titled, “Wide Format: Using Data to Increase Profit and Create Opportunity.” Pat will focus on the opportunity for wide format printers to grow their market by using data-driven design techniques used by transaction printers and direct mailers.

Session Description: Wide Format printers can grow their market by using data-driven design techniques used by transaction printers and direct mailers. Xplor International, the go-to resource for education for transaction printers and direct mailers will share with you how to apply use of data to the sign, graphics and visual communications industry. Take a few notes, walk away with new ideas and see how some of your competitors are making money using these tried and true methods. The session being held April 20th, from 2:30 – 3:30 pm in room Islander C.

I see a great deal of opportunity working with ISA in the future and look forward to the possibilities.

Receive a free tradeshow entry as well as free entry to the 6 print sessions (ISA-09, ISA-15, ISA-18, ISA-20, ISA-28, ISA-33) plus 25% off additional education.  Check out our promotional flyer for more details: http://bit.ly/2nVCYeU

It is going to be a GREAT conference and GREAT session. Hope to see you in Vegas!


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Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Clarity, Award Winning Technology by Pitney Bowes

Interview with Marie-Pierre Belanger, VP Digital Solutions & Product Manager at Pitney Bowes
By: Skip Henk, EDP – CEO of Xplor International

Xplor’s annual Technology of the Year Award honors an individual, company or organization that has conceived and developed an original concept leading to a significant advancement in the industry.

Each year Xplor’ call for Award Submissions yields a plethora of hardware and software submissions as vendors vie for recognition which tasks the Xplor Award Committee.

This year’s winner of the Technology of the Year Award is the Clarity product by Pitney Bowes, a new cloud offering   that leverages data analytics and services to help increase productivity and lower the cost of running a print and mail operation.

I had the opportunity to speak with Marie-Pierre Belanger, VP Digital Solutions & Product Manager at Pitney Bowes to learn more about their award winning product. Marie assumed her role in August of 2016 with the mission of continuing the success of Clarity by leading highly skilled team of experts to define, develop and deliver PB Industrial Enterprise Mail equipment data optimization solutions.


Skip: First, congratulations on receiving the Technology of the Year Award. I have to say our judges were quite impressed.

Marie: Thank you and we are honored to accept this award recognizing our work in the Industrial Internet and it’s especially gratifying to be recognized by Xplor.”  

Skip: Clarity is part of the Enterprise Business Unit of PB. Could you share with our readers how it fits within the PB family?

Marie: Our clients include many of the world’s leading insurers, telecommunications companies and financial institutions who have come to rely on Pitney Bowes to process billions of pieces of mail annually. Faced with increasing competition and cost pressures, mail operations are constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency and productivity, and maintain a competitive advantage. By connecting industrial sensors, machine data, people and processes, the Clarity solutions suite helps clients access new intelligence to drive higher levels of operational performance.

Clarity Solutions is a cloud based SaaS offering available on our global fleet of production mailing systems.  It integrates and organizes data collected from sensors on our machines to drive greater operational performance for our clients.

Skip: In a nutshell, what is Clarity and what does it represent to the industry?

Marie: Clarity is a disruptive technology that brings the transformational benefits of the Industrial Internet to production print and mail.   The data and real-time insights enable the predictive analytics, and prescriptive maintenance that drive optimized performance and improved business outcomes.   The Clarity suite is comprised of three offerings:

Clarity Advisor, launched in early 2016, is our new service delivery model that offers an intelligent view into the performance of our client’s equipment to help drive higher levels of machine efficiency.  It proactively monitors trends and patterns to diagnose and resolve issues before they occur resulting in up to 10% greater machine efficiency.   Our technical experts leverage these analytics and insights to prevent system downtime and predict anomalies allowing us to start moving to outcome based service support.

Clarity Optimizer leverages actionable insights and industry benchmarks to identify an optimal combination of jobs, machines and operators to help clients improve equipment performance, operational productivity and capacity.

Clarity Scheduler provides real-time adaptive scheduling to help clients meet critical service-level agreements and drive productivity.

And in late 2017, Clarity for Production Print Systems will provide a detailed view of machine efficiency and consumable usage.

Skip: Clarity utilizes the “industrial internet”. For those not familiar with the term what exactly the industrial internet?

Marie: The Industrial Internet brings together industrial machines, advanced analytics and people in a network of highly secured connected devices to monitor, collect, analyze and deliver data-driven insights that help drive transformational business outcomes.   The business benefits include lower cost of operations, greater productivity, output and increased service levels.

Skip: This seems to be a collaborative effort with GE. How do they fit in to the equation?

Marie: At Pitney Bowes, we are leveraging a combination of physical and digital technologies to transform our businesses, which include mailing and shipping, global ecommerce and location intelligence.   We chose to partner with GE to transform our enterprise mailing business with GE Predix, the software platform for the Industrial Internet since GE has expertise in industrial manufacturing.  Our production print and mail equipment is very similar to the large scale industrial GE equipment.

Skip: What makes Clarity unique? 

Marie: This cloud based Industrial Internet technology, the first in the mail industry, allows Pitney Bowes to provide unique innovative capabilities to our clients.  Many systems collect and report data; however, by coupling the cloud analytics with our technical system knowledge and expertise, Clarity Advisor delivers the intelligent insights needed to drive higher levels of operational performance.

And by leveraging the data collected across our global install base, our clients can begin to understand how their operation compares with industry benchmarks and obtain insights that will drive the most optimal combination of jobs, machines and operators through Clarity Optimizer.

Truly innovative and unique, Clarity Scheduler leverages machine learning capabilities along with in-depth insight into the productivity relationships, trends and reoccurring patterns between operators, machines and jobs.  This provides our clients with a dynamic, adaptive real-time scheduler that learns from historical performance to unlock additional capacity and maximize yield.

And finally, all this is delivered through a secure cloud platform that allows our client to focus on their core competencies and automatically receive new features instead of supporting and maintaining complex IT infrastructures.

Skip: Marie, once again congratulations to Pitney Bowes. Do you have any closing comments? How can our readers learn more about the Pitney Bowes Clarity product?

Marie: We are proud of the recognition we have received from Xplor for Clarity.   This innovation offers the Xplor community a solution that will transform the way print and mail operations provide high quality service to their clients and driver better business outcome.  We invite you to learn more about how Clarity might benefit your operation.  Click here to do so.


skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Much More Than a City in France

An Interview with XLPrint USA CEO, Gerard Callaghan
By: Skip Henk, EDP – CEO of Xplor International

At our last conference I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Gerard Callaghan, CEO of XLPrint USA, about the various changes in our industry.

I must admit, I was not familiar with XLPrint but after speaking with Gerard and spending some time on their website  (http://www.xlprint.com/) it is apparent that their platform, Paris, is relevant, agile and totally focused on transaction documents.

I decided to circle back with Gerard and get him to share a few additional thoughts on XLPrint and his vision for our industry.

Skip: Gerard thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with the E-Document News audience.

Gerard: It is my pleasure Skip.

Skip: For our readers that are not familiar with XLPrint and its Paris product, give us your 15 second elevator pitch?

Gerard: XLPrint is a software company and Paris is our flagship product. Paris has been employed in over 55 countries, in almost every industry and in thousands of customers producing billions of printed and digital transaction documents a year. Paris is the culmination of more than 30 years of development and refinement of the tools required to efficiently design, compose and deliver transaction documents. Everyone knows that you need the right tool for a job and XLPrint remains focused exclusively on delivering exactly the right tool for transaction document workflow. We do not attempt to make tools for marketing automation or graphics arts, for example. We focus entirely on transaction document production and workflow. We believe that we continue to excel at this.

Skip: Looking ahead 2-4 years, what will our industry look like?

Gerard: I can’t think of a more exciting time to be in our industry. The rate of change and evolution in the customer communication management (CCM) and customer experience (CX) industry is astounding. Having been in this industry for over 30 years I can’t think of any other period of such great innovation and value creation. However, as exciting as these new opportunities are, companies are still very focused at fulfilling the most basic obligation of delivering transaction documents. This is usually done from business systems that have been in place for a decade or more and will remain in place for another decade or more. Many companies need a solution like Paris to handle these requirements, yet be confident they are investing in solutions that support future requirements. ‘Transaction Document Production‘ may not sound as glamorous as ‘Marketing Automation‘ or ‘Customer Experience’, but it is a vital component of any business and its workflow.

Skip: What effect will emerging technologies have on our customers and our industry?

Gerard: We are working on some very exciting ideas for transaction document content and delivery which will appeal to some of our more forward-thinking customers, but the truth is that the majority of our customers expect only incremental change in this area. Our customers still expect to be delivering significant volumes of printed and PDF/Email transaction documents in 2 to 4 years. As we saw with email delivery, there was no overnight change. Print and mail is still the main medium for transaction documents and it has been, and continues to be, a very gradual change to digital delivery. We believe that businesses will continue to look for specialized, robust, future-proof tools for transaction document production and we believe that XLPrint is one of the most focused and reliable providers out there.

Skip: What does the longer view look like? What will transaction document production look like in 15 years?

Gerard: So, even in 10 years’ time, transaction documents will still be printed and mailed and Paris will be there for them however we believe that by then we will be reaching (or have reached) a tipping point and that the majority of transaction documents will be electronically delivered. At this point, there will be an incredible opportunity to deliver spectacular functionality. We believe there will be an explosion in functionality and capabilities. We are already envisioning and working on these ideas and plan to be there for our customers as they evolve into this very bright future. XLPrint has both feet firmly planted on the ground focusing on what customers need “today” but we are very excited about what lays ahead in the longer term.

Skip: Gerard, thank you for your time. If someone would like to get in contact with you and learn more about XLPrint what is the best way to do that?

Gerard: There is obviously our web site at xlprint.com however you can also contact me directly at gcallaghan@usa.xlprint.com

About XLPrint
2017 sees XLPrint celebrate its 31st year in the business of document production and workflow solutions. We have witnessed, and been a party to, incredible changes in the way that documents are produced, distributed and managed and continue to be at the leading edge of that evolution. With thousands of installations spanning more than 55 countries, producing billions of physical and electronic pages each year, our global industry and market experience is unparalleled.

We pride ourselves on thinking beyond today, and strive to revolutionize how your business will manage tomorrow’s document production opportunities. We base our success on leading-edge technology, reliable and knowledgeable support and solid partner relationships


skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Why should my company look at EDP Industry Certification?

An Interview with Scott Draeger, M-EDP, Architect of the EDP Challenge
By: Skip Henk, EDP – CEO of Xplor International

When I was asked to interview someone who has done something significant for the EDP Program that no one else has, I immediately thought of Scott Draeger, M-EDP, Vice President of Product at GMC Software. Scott is the architect of what we today call the EDP Challenge.

To give you a little background about Scott, he has been involved with Xplor now for over 15 years. Over the years, Scott has attended Xplor conferences, spoke at events, chaired education tracks, served as a board member, served on a variety of panels/committees, and much more. His insight and forward-thinking has really helped the industry and Xplor as an association.

Skip: Scott, thank you for taking the time today to speak to me about something I know you are passionate about, the EDP Certification program.

Scott: It is my pleasure as it certainly is a passion of mine.

Skip: When did you get your EDP and what drove you to strive for it?

Scott: When I graduated from UNLV, it was a tough job market. I applied for a “Document Designer” position at National Data Services of Chicago, and I was hired by Louise Wilhelm, EDP (then EDPP). She was especially passionate about the EDP program, because she was part of the first class. She invested time into her team, showing me and my coworkers how the EDP program can turn a job into a career.

From that meeting, I had a personal goal of getting my EDP as soon as possible. I moved on to a different position in the industry, gained my five years of experience, and then went for my EDP. I asked Louise to be my mentor, and she agreed. We put together a portfolio, and I was awarded my certification on stage in Dallas in 2004. I was proud to be recognized as an EDP by a large new group of peers, and I am grateful to Louise for introducing me to this community.

Skip: What does it mean to you personally to be an EDP?

Scott: Being an EDP means that I can prove longevity and dedication in a profession that has a deep well of knowledge, a requirement to constantly learn, and a commitment to improving our craft. EDPs care about how we can improve things, why we are doing these projects, and increasing the impact of the things we to in the design, creation and delivery of electronic documents.

It also means that people often ask me, “What’s an EDP?” (M-EDP in my case.) I love telling them about Xplor, the EDP concept, and how our industry is committed to leading valuable changes that streamline the business aspects of our projects while we are bringing new features and channel to the customer experience.

 

Skip: Has the certification helped you professionally throughout your career?

Scott: Most often, this has helped when I meet people. Every time someone asks, “What’s an M-EDP,” I get a chance to show passion about our industry. This passion then reflects positively on the work I am doing as well as the company I represent. Many times in my career, other EDPs and I have networked to solve some difficult technical, business, or Xplor-related topics. EDPs can find and resolve difficult problems.

 

Skip: A few years ago, you approached me wanting to put your company through an “EDP Challenge”. You have since done it for three years and you’re looking at a fourth. How did the EDP Challenge come about and why did you push for your organization to do an EDP Challenge?

Scott: I was on the EDP Commission, and I saw that the numbers of applicants appeared low to me I know that it is a great program that has added value to my career. I realized that the numbers were low, because I wasn’t doing my part. I looked around at my colleagues and saw a bunch of great potential EDPs. Adding EDP to a business card or an email signature brings credibility to a person. Even when it brings a question, “What does EDP Mean,” it is a chance to show passion for our skills, industry and work.

Once I realized there were many great candidates with a low level of awareness, I looked around for some budget, and negotiated a way to get a large number of EDPs through the program on a single portfolio submission price. Then, it was a matter of hosting some lunchtime webinars about the designation, the process, and the program. The first one generated over 20 new EDPs from several countries. 

 

Skip: What does the certification mean to all the people you’ve guided through the program?

Scott: Over the years, I have mentored or assisted over 50 people through the program. However, I am the worst mentor in all of Xplor’s history, as I believe I have the highest portfolio resubmission rate.  I started to notice that a lot of new skills were becoming requirements for some of the projects. I noticed that a lot of “electronic documents” were moving away from projects run by Xplorers, and moving to some digital, mobile or web agencies. So, I worked a bit with the Xplor EDP Commission to get some of these new skills recognized. Today, applicants can get points for some of these web, mobile, and marketing skills.

This is usually because I am trying to bring people with new roles into the program, because our industry is changing rapidly. Some of these experiences have made earning the EDP designation more valuable for both me and the EDP (they all passed.) Some of the people I have mentored have gone on to achieve some wonderful things in this industry and have even mentored other EDPs. As Xplorers, we need to stop the erosion of communications to fragmented digital projects, so younger EDA applicants with new types of experience are of particular interest to me.
Skip: What does it mean for your company to be investing in their people?

Scott: At GMC Software, two of our shared corporate values include Performance and Passion. We are looking to constantly improve our skills and make sure we are excited about what we do. We invested time in 2 EDP Challenges at GMC. This helped people see that our industry has a lot of skills.

Once they go through the process, Support people see a deeper importance of sales and marketing. Marketing people see the depth of knowledge needed to make great campaigns that speak to potential clients, and the product owners learn more about the deep requirements of integrations into larger processes. So, every applicant learns to appreciate the value of the part they contribute as well as how their part fits into the larger process. Once people see this mix, they have more pride in their work and more awareness of the value of their work in the wider world.

 

Skip: Who do you think should attain their certification?

Scott: I think people who go through the process will be surprised at how large the return on investment of time can be. So, I think that anyone interested in learning about themselves should attain this designation. If you are mildly interested in this as a career, get an EDA. If you’ve been here for five years, and you think you have a story to tell, go for an EDP. I promise you have three great stories to tell, which is the basic criteria for a gret EDP portfolio. I can also promise that going through the process will improve your perspective about where you fit in the industry. With some passion, this context, and an EDP, you can take your career to some amazing places based on the personal insight you gain through the process.

Skip: Thank you very much Scott for taking the time. I look forward to seeing you in Orlando from March 28-30 for Xploration 17 where your newest class from your EDP challenge will be awarded!

If anyone has any additional questions regarding the EDP Certification program, please visit www.xplor.org/edp and take a look around.

Until next time! Take care.

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Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

OpenText Exstream, Digital Transformation and Customer Communications Management

An Interview with OpenText Exstream, Senior Manager of Product Strategy
By: Skip Henk, EDP – CEO of Xplor International

Last year Open Text Corp. acquired certain customer-communications management assets from HP Inc., an acquisition that certainly expanded and complemented the OpenText portfolio of software offerings.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, I wanted to catch up with Avi Greenfield, EDP – Senior Manager of Product Strategy, to discuss his views about digital transformation and Customer Communications from an OpenText Exstream point of view.

Avi, a 20 year industry veteran, is focused on technology solutions that build business value, focusing on customer communications and content management strategy. As I mentioned he is a Senior Manager of Product Strategy for OpenText Exstream, responsible for understanding the needs of customers for managing business-critical communications in complex and demanding environments, and driving the direction of the Exstream portfolio to meet those needs.

Avi received his Electronic Document Professional (EDP) certification in 2012.


Skip: Avi, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts today.

Avi: You are welcome; we appreciate Xplor allowing us the opportunity.

Skip: For our readers who are not familiar with OpenText Exstream, can you give us your 15 second   elevator pitch?

Avi: OpenText Exstream offers the fastest, most reliable communications production engine to enable

digital transformation for companies. Exstream helps companies in a range of industries and sizes optimize customer engagement through the design and delivery of personalized, consistent, compliant, anytime, anywhere communications for better customer experiences across all channels. The latest version includes capabilities that enable users to create responsive, mobile-ready content; generate robust, interactive charts; perform controlled in-context editing; and better handle PDFs.

Skip: There is a lot in the media now about “digital transformation” and “digital business/digital economy” – what does that mean to OpenText and why is it important? 

Avi:  With 50% of the workforce expected to be made up of those who were “born digital” by 2020, digital communications are becoming more and more important and many companies are looking to move to a digital business model. A recent Gartner report states that 89% of companies will compete on customer experience and 90% of CEOs place CX as one of their top three priorities, so companies will need to be able to provide exceptional customer experiences across multiple channels to stay competitive in the future.

The Millennial generation is now larger than the Baby Boomers and they have more than one trillion dollars in purchasing power. Companies need to adapt their customer communications to appeal to this highly digital and technologically advanced group. Digital transformation of your business will be critical and is much more than being able to send email or PDFs because these consumers want much more engaging experiences and access to their brands 24/7. They have the highest adoption and usage of mobile devices of any generation, and they navigate seamlessly between devices and channels, which means they expect relevant and consistent content, experiences and branding across all channels.

Skip: What is the impact of digital transformation on CCM?

Avi:  We see it driving a lot of demand for modern CCM capabilities. Digital transformation means rethinking business processes to meet consumer demand for frictionless multichannel interactions. This frequently means updating or replacing core systems of record and systems and engagement like CRM, billing, customer care, and claims for example. Most organizations already have multiple systems that are used to produce and deliver traditional and digital communications. So when they update those core systems, it’s a great time to consider whether their current CCM tools and processes are able to serve all of their enterprise needs for engaging customers in a way puts them at the center and gives them the freedom to engage using the channels and devices of their choice. We see this leading to increased investment in enterprise-grade CCM tools and also increased focus and organizational resources dedicated to producing and delivering timely, relevant, compliant communications.

Skip: Given these changes, and a shift to digital documents and communications, what steps can people take right now to take advantage of this?

Avi: In the digital age, it is critical for your company to move from traditional paper-based documents to engaging conversations across all channels. By delivering communications in the channels preferred by your customers and designing with digital in mind, you can turn your communications into a differentiator.

Your communications should use clear and concise language and be compliant, accurate, and controlled. All this requires synchronizing the right data with CCM software and the business processes that intersect with customer touchpoints.

Communications—whether traditional or digital—are the primary customer touchpoint for most organizations. The quality, timeliness, and accuracy of those communications have a huge impact on the consumer’s perception of your company. And the quality of a customer’s experience is the single greatest predictor of whether they will return and promote your company or defect to a competitor and malign it.

The design of any communication is important and can either drive desired behaviors, additional revenue or loyalty if done well. If not, it can undermine customer experience and create expensive call center inquiries. As far as best practices, five key things to consider when designing any communication are:

  1. Design for understanding – What do you want recipients to understand?
  2. Design to drive action – What do you want recipients to do or not do?
  3. Design for digital first, but don’t neglect traditional channels – Do recipients have a seamless cross-channel experience?
  4. Design to align business user profile with the business process – How do you involve business users? Do they own content and messages? Can they help personalize communications for the front office?
  5. Design customer-centric communications from the outside-in – What do you do to modernize your processes and systems of interaction to deliver on consumer expectations for seamless cross-channel interactions?

Skip: Those are five great points. Do you believe the investment in CCM worth it?

Avi: Not only is it worth it, but it is essential to positive business outcomes. Providing a better customer experience is shown to increase loyalty and lifetime customer value and can be a key source of competitive differentiation. Delivering interactions that are clear, timely, and easy to understand leads to higher customer satisfaction.

So there are many pressures and expectations on customer communications. Companies must respond quickly to changing markets and circumstances, while providing consistent, high-quality communications in the recipient’s language and preferred delivery channel.

There is also a critical need to maintain compliance and control over communications for legal and regulatory reasons. At the same time, business users are demanding more control over the content and faster time to market. And of course operational requirements demand timely, optimized output at the lowest possible cost. So having an enterprise CCM platform with the right organizational commitment and resources dedicated to it is essential to increasing profitability, improving customer experience, and mitigating risk.

Skip: Avi, I once again thank you for taking the time to speak with me today and sharing your insights. Anyone who would like more information can contact OpenText here.

About OpenText Exstream
Exstream is a multichannel customer communication management (CCM) solution that is proven to improve the customer experience and make customer interactions more profitable. It allows business users to create the communications for connected customer journeys using the delivery formats and channels customers prefer – including email, web and mobile.

This software solution powers the transformation of all of your data—whatever file sources, formats, and systems you use—into relevant and insightful customer communications. With on-premise and cloud deployment options, Exstream is scalable to fit the needs of any department or complex enterprise environment. Design and deliver consistent, personalized, compliant, anytime, anywhere communications with Exstream.


skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Harry’s Corner – 47-47-6 Unintended Consequences

Submitted by Harry Stephens, President/CEO of DATAMATX
November 21, 2016

We held our annual INg meeting at Orlando in conjunction with this year’s Graph Expo in September. One of the speakers at our meeting was a labor attorney and among the many things he spoke to us about was the upcoming Overtime Rule. For those of you that may not know specific details on this new rule, starting on December 1 2016, the salary threshold to avoid paying overtime will move to $913 per week (an annual salary of $47,476) from the current $455 per week.  Right now, hourly workers, lower-wage earners and non-managerial workers must be paid 1.5 times their hourly wage when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Under the new rule, an estimated 4.2 million workers, including those on salary, will be eligible for overtime.

On November 10th, at the Fall Board of Director’s meeting for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, where I am on the board, the issue came up again. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce represents the unified voice of Georgia’s business community with the motto “What’s good for business is good for Georgia” driving its policy and legislative direction to ensure the future of economic mobility for all Georgians. So it makes sense that business and job creation are always a focus. I brought up this impending Overtime Rule at the meeting, encouraging both the local and national Chamber of Commerce to vocally oppose this type of job creation loss initiative as it will certainly have unintended consequences, hurting the people it intended to help.

For example, in lower-paid jobs where the minimum wage is also increasing, employers are put in the difficult situation of having middle managers making considerably less per working hour than new hires. Think of the restaurant industry where wages may be lower, hours are long and profit margins very thin. While this rule is meant to increase take-home pay, these changes may limit employment and advancement opportunities in this industry and others like it. Another good example—college graduates looking for their first job.  An employer will certainly have to think twice about hiring an inexperienced worker who needs time to “learn on the job” for an annual salary of $47,476.00 or unbudgeted overtime. Jobs are hard enough to get when you don’t have the right experience. This rule will make it even more difficult. Unintended consequences. Hurting the people it intended to help.

For every business, this rule causes a number of consequences as well, particularly when it comes to payroll. We essentially have two choices. If the increased salary threshold creates newly non-exempt employees to stay compliant, we need to either pay employees higher salaries, or pay overtime wages.

In preparation, classifying employees correctly as to whether they are exempt or non-exempt will be extremely important, particularly if you are in a business that has peaks in productivity at times that require employees to work longer hours, like month end or holidays. Because of this, I recommend checking out the Department of Labor or your state’s wage enforcement agency to get the exact requirements. The last thing a business needs is unexpected financial or legal consequences for not clearly stating an employee’s classification, entitlement to overtime and tracking of such.

It will also be important to have clear communication with employees about record keeping. For some who have been proud of being a “white collar worker” now required to keep track of time, this can be difficult. Explaining the rule and how it will affect them and your business will ease any misconceptions they may have about any changes in job description or pay.

Oh, and another piece of “good news.”  The minimum salary threshold will automatically increase every three years based on wage growth. The first automatic increase will happen on Jan. 1, 2020, which means more employees will become exempt as the threshold rises. Now, if you think you are in the clear because you are a small business, I have more “good news.” The Department of Labor FAQ fact sheet does say that “the proposed rule [applies] to employees of enterprises that have an annual gross volume of sales made or business done of $500,000 or more, and certain other businesses.” Ok. If your business makes less than $500,000 of annual revenue, is it exempt? It appears the answer is still no. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), individual employees may still be “covered in any workweek when they are individually engaged in interstate commerce, the production of goods for interstate commerce, or an activity that is closely related and directly essential to the production of such goods.”  Like I said earlier – research the information on the Department of Labor’s website or your state’s wage enforcement agency to get the exact requirements of the ruling.

There is no way around the fact that this ruling is bad for business—especially small to medium businesses that have a hard enough time growing their businesses as it is. We need dedicated employees who consider themselves professionals and want to work the long hours often needed to get ahead and grow in their profession. Employers will now have a hard time giving them that choice. Instead of benefiting workers, the rule takes away flexible schedules and maybe even certain career pursuits. For businesses, it places yet another financial burden to manage. Perfect examples of unintended consequences hurting the people it intended to help.

Until next time – Harry

Harry Stephens


Harry Stephens is President/CEO, and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation’s largest privately held, full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. He has been active in the Atlanta business community for over 40 years in various professional and trade organizations, most recently as a board member of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.  As an advocate for business mailers across the country, Stephens is actively involved in several postal trade associations.  He serves on the Executive Board of the Greater Atlanta Postal Customer Council,  Board Member of the National Postal Policy Council (NPPC), Member of Major Mailers Association(MMA), and member of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service.  He is also immediate past president of the Imaging Network Group (INg), an association for Print/Mail Service Bureaus.  As an expert on high-volume print and mail, he has frequently been asked to speak to various USPS groups, including the Board of Governors, about postal reform and other issues affecting business mailers.  Find DATAMATX at www.datamatx.com

 

The importance of the customer experience when it comes to your proof of delivery process

Submitted by Alexandra Truchot, Content Creation Specialist for Objectif Lune.
October 12, 2016

Building your customer base involves a lot of money and effort. Once you’ve attracted new customers, it’s wise to do everything you can to keep them happy and committed over the long term so that your investment was worthwhile.

If you focus your efforts mainly on getting new customers and neglect to give your current ones a special experience, you’re actually working for your competitor, who is providing a more exclusive customer experience and doing everything possible to win their loyalty.

That said, you have a golden opportunity when delivering products to interact with your customers and make the experience positive for them. The goal is to make them want to continue buying your products, and even to recommend you to others in their network. In fact, this is one of the only chances you’ll get to meet them in person and interact directly. Why not take the opportunity to wow them?

Provide quality service to maintain customers
By providing your delivery persons with a tablet to manage delivery notes, you can impress your customers by asking them not only to sign the delivery note directly on the mobile device (rather than signing a piece of paper), but by allowing them to change the quantities they received in real time. They can even add visual proof of a damaged package, and the delivery person can specify the location information to confirm that the product was delivered to the place the customer had indicated. Then it just takes a click to send the proof of delivery to the office and to email it to the customer.

Be proactive in earning customer loyalty
Since the delivery note gets to the office faster, your staff can be proactive in addressing problems. If a parcel is damaged, the office clerk will immediately receive the proof of damage and can quickly contact the customer to apologize and offer an alternative. When paper is used, it can take 24 to 48 hours, or longer, before the customer gets any news about the damaged product. But in the former case, the customer hardly has any time to get upset. With an automated digital process, customers can’t help but notice how proactive you are in dealing with such incidents.

In addition, since data entry is no longer done by hand, the data is more reliable and the billing can be done seamlessly. Not only will your customers pay faster, since nothing needs to be changed on the invoice, but there’ll be less risk of receiving complaints.

Get closer to reaching your productivity, operational efficiency and customer experience objectives one step at a time!


AlexandraTruchot ThumbnailAlexandra Truchot – Content creation specialist with Objectif Lune. Writer and compulsive reader. Eager for unknown destinations and exciting encounters. Anything is possible, you just have to believe it. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Objectif Lune has 20 years of experience developing Customer Communications Management solutions. Our solutions bridge the gap between systems and automate more personalized, relevant, multichannel customer communications. Learn more at: www.objectiflune.com.