Manage Supply Chain Disruption in Printing through Automation

By Swati Sahai, V.P. Of Marketing at Sefas Innovation

The printing industry continues to face severe supply chain challenges. While sales are expected to grow, most printers do not expect it to translate into profitability due to rising costs and substantial shortages.

These problems are expected to continue into 2023 with the greatest concerns (reflected by large majority of printers) being paper shortage, labor shortage, transportation difficulties, ink and production supplies shortage, and the rising costs of each of these – in short Supply Chain Disruption.

More than 2.5 million metric tons of North American printing and writing paper capacity has been offline since the start of 2020. Today, global supplies of certain paper products are so tight that many printers can’t get the stock that they need “at any price”.

In addition, there is rising postage cost which has severely impacted the print mail business.

The need of the hour is clear ― reevaluate processes to reduce dependencies, improve efficiency and productivity, and recover rising costs. Automation can help meet all these needs. This is especially true in the CCM and CXM space that operate large print to mail facilities requiring a lot of labor and raw materials to produce physical communications.

Workflow automation can help lower the cost of printing per piece and make big gains in productivity.

According to a study by Printing Industries of America, high-profit commercial printers spend almost double the investment in hardware and software per employee (automation) than their peers. The result is 30 percent fewer employees per million dollars of sales.

An Evolution Not a Revolution!

In our experience, the approach that works best for automation is evolution, not revolution. This means to start where you are, with the legacy applications that you have been using, instead of trying to uproot all your systems.

For years, large businesses have been trying to move from physical to digital communications, but they have not had much success, particularly in highly regulated industries. There are many reasons for this but the biggest is the existence of silos in the communications technology infrastructure.

Therefore, a workflow automation layer is needed that can interface with all your systems and extract information even from legacy applications. Implementing this workflow automation layer is much simpler, cost-effective, and less risky than completely modernizing and changing your entire communication generation and delivery infrastructure.

The Elements of Workflow Automation

Job consolidation, site consolidation, householding, print suppression, digital presorting are all elements of workflow automation that individually and in combination, help produce more with less infrastructure and labor.

In this blog, we will describe householding and how it helps manage supply chain disruption.

Householding

Householding is putting two or more documents in the same envelope that would have otherwise gone in different envelopes. Householding results in savings in postage and envelopes, increases profitability, and helps companies manage the current shortage of envelopes.

How does householding work?

Householding works by normalizing all input (making it in same format), extracting the metadata, and optimizing the output. As part of optimization, the output is grouped, split, and sorted.

While sorting, we can identify the documents that are candidates for householding based on individual preference. For example, two individuals living in the same household may want to keep some communication in separate mail while for other types of communications, they may prefer to have them put in the same envelope, defined as one mail piece.

Preference management

The challenge of householding lies in determining which two documents can be put together as one mail piece. A unique identifier is required for this determination so that we can form mail pieces without violating any privacy or other regulations. This can be done through a preference and consent management application which makes it easy to get a unique profile identifier as well as preference and consent data.

Managing supply chain problems

Householding helps manage supply chain problems by reducing the requirement of envelopes. As companies are facing a shortage of envelopes today, even 10% householding of a job can relieve enormous pressure from the supply chain.

By reducing postal cost, householding helps improve profitability in these challenging times.

In the next post on this series, I will talk about print suppression and how it helps relieve pressure from the supply chain.

 

To learn how Sefas can help you manage supply chain problems through householding and workflow automation, contact us.

State of CX in 2022

From culture to employee enablement to technologies, long-time Xplor member and sponsor Quadient is sharing the six trends that enterprises should examine for success in their new eBook, ‘State of CX in 2022’. 

Download this valuable guide to learn: 

  • Expert insights into the biggest trends in Customer Experience Management (CXM) and Customer Communications Management (CCM).  
  • Technologies driving differentiating CX. 
  • Necessary business investments to make to exceed in today’s CX standards. 
  • The cultural changes that you must adopt for success in a new CX age.  

 

I’m Not Anyone – A Colorful Story of Disappointment, Endurance and Reinvention from One of Today’s Top Entrepreneurs

Roger P. Gimbel, EDP is a well-known entrepreneur and business executive in the commercial print industry. He assumed management of the family business, expanded it, and had it taken from him. Over the course of his career, he’s experienced many ups and downs; some of them humorous, others heart-breaking.

I’m Not Anyone is a memoir of how Roger arrived at where he is today and what drives a person to continue moving forward.  The book includes lots of stories about Roger’s experiences with the people, technology, and trends of the printing business as well as anecdotes about life in the Gimbel family.

In honor of Roger’s parents, Audrey and Hy, he is donating all proceeds from the sale of this book to the Herman L. Gimbel and Audrey M. Gimbel Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship impacts the lives of college students with financial support that makes a college education more affordable for students while promoting the graphic arts industries. Scholarships are offered for full or part-time study at an accredited institution of the student’s choice.

By purchasing this book you get a fun and inspiring read while supporting the scholarship fund for an incoming student. Feel free to purchase multiple copies to give to friends and employees as you help to support our next generation of graphics arts professionals.

Click here to get your copy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578325950


What readers are saying:

“This is a collection of some funny, some scary, some cringe-worthy, and some quite inspiring experiences in the life of the larger-than-life Roger Gimbel. Quite a tale.” —Allison McCord

“Roger Gimbel could be the most interesting man I know…Motorcycles, drugs, clothes, clubs, yachts, and Forrest Gump-like experiences with some of the most iconic people in recent history. More than anything though, this book is about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur — brains and, shall we say, intestinal fortitude. Roger lays out in a clear, fun, and humorous fashion his anecdotes about his life and what it takes to build, grow, and maintain a successful business in any industry.” —Lance Drucker, ChFC, AI

“Engaging…A tremendous insight into how people are shaped and influenced by their life adventures.” -Kevin Ward, Former Vice President, Wealth Management Advisor, Bank of America Merrill

Xplor President/CEO Provides an Update on the XPLOR21 Conference

Skip Henk, President and CEO of Xplor International, discusses the upcoming  XPLOR21 conference with Mark Michelson, Editor-in-chief  with Printing Impressions.

Shifting from CCM to CXM: What Does This Mean for Direct Marketing?

Are you part of the transformation?

“Today’s rapidly changing technological landscape is also reshaping the market. Instant access to relevant information, personalized experiences on a preferred channel, and consistent communications in terms of style, branding, and tone-of-voice have become crucial elements of superior CX and all three of the primary dynamics behind CCM’s evolution share one thing in common: They are designed to enable business users to improve CX for the end consumer.”

Will Morgan wrote those words about the evolution of customer communications management (CCM) to customer experience management (CXM) in a 2020 What They Think series of articles.

We are increasingly CX led. Our customer outreach is increasingly CX focused.

How can the transactional printing industry embrace the CXM led revolution? And what is CCM’s role now?

The Meet Up is August 18, at 4pm and you can register at this link.

✅ How has COVID changed Customer Experience and what is CCM’s value in the post-COVID world of CXM?

✅ What is the impact of direct marketing converging with CCM?

✅ Does leveraging direct marketing strategies within transactional business communications set the stage for privacy concerns?

We invite you to share your insights into how CCM and CXM and we share our own practical recommendations on providing the best possible customer experiences in transactional printing.

Sign up here!

Subscribe to Xplor International updates.

PODCAST: 30 Minutes with the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse!

Last week I had the privilege of being interviewed by Deborah Corn, internationally known as the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse. You can check her our at www.printmediacentr.com.

As always, I had a great time.

Check out the podcast to hear about what’s new at XPLOR21, being held in St. Pete Beach, November 16-18th as well as some insights into the status of Xplor as it navigates the pandemic.



Until next time! Take care.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

TRANSPROMO Using Video: Deliver Marketing Messages and Increase Revenue with Personalized Video

Why is video more important now than ever before? How can the transactional printing industry USE video?

Digital customer journeys have a key glaring gap; providing personalized education for each and every customer to help them progress with confidence in choosing their financial products. Using a combination of real-time interactivity, math and logic processing, and visual storytelling, customers can make better financial decisions at all points in the customer journey.

Essential customer communications, such as statements and bills, can be the most successful — and cost-effective — way to deliver marketing messages and increase revenue. You all know that.

But how many of your customers are including video to reach out to their audience? BlueRush based in Toronto and Montreal, is a leader in video marketing and customer communications, and leading the conversation at Xplor Canada’s July 2021 Virtual Meet Up on Thursday, July 22, at 4pm. Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMudeGppjspE9QFSYS_Ntbh7oG4azVQOd2g

Join us, ask questions, and participate in the conversation – at this month’s Xplor Canada virtual meetup. We will discuss:

  • Leveraging video within customer communications
  • How to use highly personalized video
  • Best practices for using video to engage customers

Sign up here!

And don’t forget to subscribe to Xplor for the latest in multi-channel client, member and customer communications.

An Interview with Roger P. Gimbel, EDP, President and CEO of Gimbel & Associates

By: Skip Henk, President/CEO of Xplor International

I recently had a chance to catch up with a longtime Xplor supporter and our newest Elite sponsor, Roger Gimbel of Gimbel & Associates.

Roger has been involved with Xplor for almost 25 years as a frequent speaker at Xplor events. He received his Electronic Document Professional (EDP), certification 21 years ago. He recently decided to participate in the Xplor Elite Sponsor program so I wanted get to know a little bit more of what Gimbel & Associates does, a bit of history and Roger’s views on the direction of the industry.


Skip:  Roger, I would like to thank you for both personally and on behalf of Xplor International for your support over the years and now as a Platinum Elite associates sponsor and Diamond Conference Sponsor.

Roger:  Roger:  I am happy to have the opportunity this year to enhance our relationship with Xplor as the association has been a valuable resource of information for personal and business growth. Gimbel & Associates joined Xplor in 1996 making this our 25th year in membership and support for the EDP (Electronic Document Professional) program, a valuable certification for all print professionals.

Skip:  For our readers who are not familiar with Gimbel & Associates, give us your 15-second elevator pitch about the company.

Roger:  Gimbel & Associates is a print industry international consulting firm that works with both print service providers and enterprise corporations to help them with strategy planning and implementation of business development projects.  The G&A team consists of SME’s that each have 25+ years’ experience with hands on participation and knowledge of the industry.

Skip:  The Gimbel family has been part of the printing industry for a long time.  If I am correct, starting in 1942.  Tell us a little bit about the company itself, a bit of history.

Roger:  The Gimbels in Print family has been in the printing business with over 80 years as of 2021.  The company evolved from manufacturing print products to helping develop new applications and technology products which has expanded into our current international consulting group. We use all the experience we have learned over the years to help others in printing and related industries succeed.  This ultimately saves them time, costs and promoted ROI.  There’s a newly published eBook on our site titled “Gimbels in Print” which goes into greater detail.  You can download this eBook and other publications at www.rogergimbel.com/library.

Skip:  Your new book, “A Printer’s Perspective & Guide to Digital Printing and Variable Data,” along with the “Guide to Better Business,” provide insights in how to succeed in a changing industry.  Looking 2-4 years from now, what do you think our industry will look like?

Roger:  I believe that printing will be an industry of service providers that will be providing very specialized services, less commodity print and will incorporate targeted, analytic marketing. Multichannel delivery of information will be in the forefront of advertising and social communications. 

Skip:  What emerging technologies do you believe with further change the industry?

Roger:  Inkjet technology will continue to evolve and be the foundation and benchmark of all quality print.

Skip:  For our closing question, are print centers going to disappear?

Roger:  Print centers will not disappear, they will become hybrid locations where a print center in enterprise corporations will be producing immediate, required, same-day projects and more complex projects will be outsourced to print and service providers.

Skip:  Roger, thank you for your time.  Do you have any closing thoughts?

Roger:  I thoroughly believe that it is extremely important to be assessing your current operations to set up a strategy and plan that is managed by an internal champion with the backing of corporate commitment to create the “new” norm of the future.

Skip: Roger, once again, thank your thoughts and support. If anyone would like to more information Roger can be reached at: Roger P. Gimbel, EDP, roger@rogergimbel.com, Office 646-472-1932, cell 917-415-3125 or in case they can’t reach Roger; Gail Gimbel, Executive Director, gail@rogergimbel.com , Office 646-472-1950, cell 516-521-9522


Until next interview! Take care.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

AI is an enabler of Customer Communications Transformation and Modernization

This is part 2 of an interview with Steve Biancaniello, CEO of Messagepoint; read Part 1 here!


Artificial Intelligence has become a growing component of Customer Communications and the overall experience. Software vendors have started to integrate into their software offerings with some companies further along than others.

Messagepoint has taken a leadership role and has put AI front and center in their offerings, so I wanted to touch base with them and get their thoughts on the subject. What is AI, the value proposition, what should organizations be thinking about, and what recommendations our friends at Messagepoint have.

Steve Biancaniello, CEO of Messagepoint was kind enough to take the time to share some additional thoughts for this, part two of a two-part interview. Part one is available here


Skip: Some vendors are looking at applying AI to transformation initiatives. What have you seen in the market relating to modernization and transformation?

Steve: I think COVID-19 has kicked a lot of digitalization initiatives into high gear – the need to be digital but also do so in a way that customers demand. We are hearing from both direct customers and partners that organizations are looking to transform and modernize customer communications processes and systems. This has been a big challenge in our industry – it’s perceived as a risky venture requiring too much time, effort and money to tackle content silos and justify the ‘transformation’, and as a result, lots of companies are stuck in molasses. I liken it to having a “Communications debt” – because you didn’t invest in modernizing in increments along the way, you are left behind and it becomes this very large program that is daunting or perceived as too hard to do.

AI is helping to change that by enabling people to realize they have options here whether they want to optimize the content they have in their current system, optimize the content and migrate to a new system, or take action in whole or in parts based on a deeper awareness of the state of their content.

Skip: How can AI assist with transformation and modernization initiatives?

Steve: The biggest barrier that exists today is the traditional approach to content migration. The average enterprise migration takes 3 years and costs millions. These are averages from services organizations that are using scripts to assist with parts of the process, regardless of that help – it is costly and slow and prone to errors that come with manual processes. It often relies heavily on tribal knowledge and a shrinking pool of SMEs who understand the nuisances associated with the legacy content and platforms that house this content.

The story is the same whether you’re doing it yourself or leveraging a professional services firm – the process is highly manual and resource-intensive. No one will invest that time, or money to make the

transition, which is why these projects often get cancelled or pared down to a lift and shift. The problem is that optimization gets left behind and content that gets brought over is often riddled with problems – duplicates, variations of similar content, off-brand content, outdated regulatory content, content this is difficult to read and understand – essentially all the problems that were buried in the legacy system hampered by years of ineffective content management and sharing. For years people stalled these migration and transformation efforts because the technical debt was too steep to pay – Now AI makes it possible to address this technical debt and position organizations to be more much more intelligent and agile when curating content to improve customer experiences

We have introduced Rationalizer which leverages the Messagepoint Advanced Rationalization and Content Intelligence Engine, known as MARCIE. This engine automates and improves key processes relating to content migration to make the entire process fast, as AI accelerates the content management processes – such as automating ingestion, content comparisons, and analysis. It also makes it accurate – no more human error, similar content objects overlooked. It also makes content processing repeatable at scale to enable enterprise-scale migration and instantaneous help for content authors, no matter the size of the team. Lastly, it lowers risk, as it democratizes knowledge, so you aren’t relying on one central figure to continue on.

Skip: What does AI do specifically to change the process?

Steve: In the case of Rationalizer, it breaks the process down into 5 key steps.

First off is intelligent ingestion of content from Word, PDF, HTML, print streams, and CCM solutions. It ingests the content, breaks it apart into its pieces, and tags those pieces. Secondly is discovery, which reveals key findings about your content such as duplicate content, similar content, brand violations, reading level violations, and sentiment issues. Third, with a single click, you can consolidate duplicate or similar content objects. Fourth, optimization within the system revels opportunities to correct those issues relating to brand, reading levels, and sentiment. Finally, you can migrate to your modern communications management system.

Rationalizer, leveraging MARCIE drives significant benefits of substantial time and cost savings, increased accuracy, the ability to scale these content migration and transformation programs and the democratization of expert knowledge to reduce the risk of the move and position for more intelligent, agile content authoring experiences going forward.

Skip: What recommendations do you have for someone thinking of embarking on this type of transformational journey?

Steve: You need to set clearly defined goals and outcomes for your business. Is this just about technology modernization or do you want to improve the customer experience? That will determine what technologies and partners you select.

You also need to get the various stakeholders together early and on the same page early. If you are focused on the same goals and believe this type of transformation is tenable with AI-powered solutions, then you will get ‘unstuck’ together.

Don’t settle for a manual approach that will cost you unnecessary time and money. Some vendors are focused on leveraging offshore resources because that is their only option. AI tools exist today that can

have a dramatic impact on the process and the outcomes. Don’t think of optimization as a one-time event, as it’s ongoing. Look for a solution that will optimize your content and keep things optimized over time.

Finally, respect the pivotal role of content curators – look for solutions that offer intuitive, intelligent, instantaneous content authoring assistance while preserving the curators’ right to have it their way as needed.

Skip: Thank you once again, Steve any closing thoughts?

Steve: You are welcome and of course if anyone has any questions and/or would like more information they can feel free to visit www.messagepoint.com or email us at info@messagepoint.com or call us at 800-492-4103.


About Messagepoint
Messagepoint is a leading provider of customer communications management software. Only Messagepoint harnesses AI-powered Content Intelligence to automate and simplify the process of migrating, optimizing, authoring, and managing complex customer communications for non-technical (business) users. Our customers rely on our award-winning platform to consistently deliver exceptional, highly personalized customer communications across all platforms and channels. For more information, visit www.messagepoint.com.

PODCAST: #XPLOR20 Goes Virtual with Skip Henk, President/CEO

I had the pleasure of chatting with an old friend, Deborah Corn as we discussed an overview of this year’s virtual event, and how Xplor looked at industry and market trends to develop all of the #XPLOR20 tracks and sessions to keep the Customer Communications community moving forward. Check it out!



Until next interview! Take care.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International