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

Not Just a Buzzword: AI Will Play an Essential Role in Your Customer Communications

Part 1 of an interview with Steve Biancaniello, CEO of Messagepoint; read Part 2 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 and share his thoughts.

This is a two part interview. Part two is available here.


Skip: Steve, thank you for taking the time.

Steve: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for asking.

Skip: So let’s get right into it. Why is AI important to customer communications and customer experiences?

Steve: First, I think its important to define what AI is. AI is essentially a technology that can learn and perform cognitive functions/tasks independently. This enables the intelligent processing of raw data at scale to perform any number of tasks.

AI adds speed, power, and scale to the processing of complex problems that would be extremely difficult, tedious, and repetitive to accomplish manually or with normal software tools. It also automates repetitive, labor-intensive cranial tasks, recognizes patterns that are not obvious to humans, and can democratize expert knowledge.

This can quickly translate into tangible business benefits, such as lower costs, improved quality of communications, faster and more context-specific responses to customers, and even more intelligent offers to customers.

Skip: Where do you see organizations getting the greatest value from AI in the area of customer communications?

Steve: There are lots of points within the customer experience today where AI already plays a role. For example, online personal shopping assistants powered by IBM Watson, chatbots that handle customer service inquiries, or targeting of personalized offers via email.

But when it comes to customer communications, we feel the greatest value lies in managing and optimizing content. There are a number of thorny problems with content – the sheer volume that most enterprise-scale organizations have and the slight, subtle variations that lead to redundancies and

duplications, the need for the same content to be published across all the different channels through which we communicate with customers. With its ability to handle scale and process information quickly, AI seems perfectly matched to help address those challenges.

That’s why we built The Messagepoint Advanced Rationalization and Content Intelligence Engine, known as MARCIE. MARCIE automates and improves key processes relating to content management, optimization, and migration, all at scale. Think of it as an intelligent assistant for content authors when creating and managing content and communications.

Skip: What should organizations be thinking of when it comes to managing and optimizing content with AI?

Steve: Content operations at scale are very complex, especially when you’re dealing with customer communications. Much of the content leveraged for customer communications is still stuck in old systems that require programming, deep tribal knowledge, and manual processes to work with it in anyway. These systems represent key barriers that stop organizations from being agile and responsive.

First look for content management tasks that you can automate to simplify and scale operations. A good example of this is using AI to analyze content and tag it with the appropriate metadata. Humans are notoriously bad at doing these kinds of tasks at scale.

AI can also perform functions that require understanding the meaning of the content. This formerly required human intervention to make judgements but AI models are becoming increasingly effective here. Given this, it also makes sense to look for ways in which AI can help you improve the quality of your content. For example, you could support a content optimization effort by identifying content that conveys the wrong sentiment.

Some AI-based capabilities will also identify content that performs better, or which content is most relevant to a customer to truly deliver on the right message, at the right moment, to the right person

With MARCIE we have chosen to focus first on enforcing brand guidelines, reading comprehension, sentiment, and consolidating duplicate and similar content. As organizations expand the ways they think about managing and optimizing content, MARCIE will also expand their capabilities by supporting additional AI-assisted content management use cases.

Skip: What recommendations do you have for someone looking at a solution that promotes the use of AI?

Steve: Recognize what you still want humans to control and what you want the machine to control. Many AI solutions learn over time and that is a great thing, but it needs relevant data to learn from to understand nuances in your own communications. This is particularly true when the tasks are complex, such as writing new correspondence. If you automate too much of the content creation process for example, you might suddenly hit the wrong note and end up with a customer experience problem for the sake of efficiency. A solution has to strike the right balance between providing insights that enable more intelligent action and full automation. This can be achieved when AI-assisted authoring is seamless, intuitive, instantaneous, while not restraining the expertise of the content authors.

Skip: Thank you once again. I am sure our readers will benefit from your insight. Best of luck to Messagepoint and thank you and Messagepoint for your support of Xplor and the industry.

Steve: You are welcome and of course if anyone has any questions and/or would like more information they can feel free to contact us.


Look for part two of the interview with Steve Biancaniello, CEO of Messagepoint in the next issue of E-Document News.

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.

Gimbel & Associates Releases Printer’s Guide to Better Business

GIMBEL & ASSOCIATES
400 Garden City Plaza Suite 405
Garden City, NY 11530-3362
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Garden City, NY June 1, 2020

Gimbel & Associates, the well-known printing industry management consulting firm, has published a compendium of articles designed to help their clients and other companies in the printing business develop strategies for protecting and growing their businesses. Roger P. Gimbel’s Guide to Better Business is full of helpful guidance, tips, and resources.

The downloadable eBook includes sections on Business Strategy, Marketing, Sales Acceleration, Production, and more. This 100-plus page comprehensive resource is available to print professionals at no charge.

“Companies in the printing business need new strategies, especially after COVID-19,” says company president and author Roger Gimbel, EDP, “This is the time for printing companies to assess their business models. The way they do business with customers is changing, and we decided it was the ideal time to create the guide.”

The Guide to Better Business is a collection of articles Gimbel & Associates has produced to help companies create successful businesses today and as business recovers from the pandemic shutdown. Printers will find the eBook contains valuable information they can put to use in their own organizations among titles such as “Data Security Challenges in Your Print Environment”, “Enhancing Your Communication Skills”, and “Making More Money with Mail”.

Print company managers tend to focus on delivering the projects of the day to their customers. They don’t spend enough time planning how to improve their businesses. When the economy picks up, print companies will be extra busy. Right now is a great time to browse through the guide and jot down strategic ideas relevant to your organization.

ABOUT GIMBEL & ASSOCIATES

Gimbel & Associates is an international management consulting firm working to ignite business growth through digital technologies. As an independent company, they offer clients customized consulting services to achieve their sales and marketing goals. With an extensive background in print services, print production, digital, marketing communications, database management, training, and direct marketing, Gimbel & Associates helps their clients accomplish their growth and efficiency goals.

An Interview with Harvey Gross on upcoming Customer Communications Virtual Summit

By: Skip Henk, President and CEO of Xplor International

Xplor Elite sponsor and longtime supporter Crawford Technologies is hosting a virtual customer communications summit on May 6th outlining strategies for staying in touch with your customers.

I had the opportunity to speak with Harvey Gross, Vice President of Products for Crawford to learn a bit more on their decision to put on the event and what people can expect.


Skip: Harvey, what is Crawford’s purpose in putting on the Customer Communications Virtual Summit?

Harvey: Well Skip, in a nutshell – we kind of missed getting together with our colleagues in the industry ad hearing about the new things that everyone has been working on.

Skip: This whole virtual world is coming to the forefront, on a lighter note, what should one wear to this event?

Harvey: This is a really important question given the current environment we are all living in right now. Let me share the good news – what you wear is totally up to you! Be as comfy as you want! You don’t have to wear a suit and tie, a name badge and what’s even more important – there’s no need to worry about social distancing, so you don’t have to wear a mask. That is unless you have a really cool mask that you like to wear around your home or office.

Skip: What is the Customer Communications Virtual Summit and why should you attend?

Harvey: Another good question. While many of the industry events you were planning to attend this spring and summer have either been cancelled or postponed, it doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on gaining the insights from recognized industry experts, customers and enterprise leaders about the technologies and best practices that can help organizations grow and thrive. And to be quite honest, we here at Crawford Technologies miss having the opportunity to share these experiences with you and we know our colleagues do as well. But we didn’t want this to be just be another invitation to a webinar.

We decided that the best way to get everyone together would be to host a full day, complimentary Customer Communications Virtual Summit where our industry experts can share their knowledge and experiences related to improving customer experience, understanding and achieving regulatory compliance and optimizing customer communications across 3 tracks – Output Management, eDelivery and Document Accessibility. With 30 sessions focused on thought leadership, case studies, user experiences and collaboration opportunities, the Virtual Summit is more than just another webinar – it is an ideal and timely opportunity to easily stay on top of the latest industry trends and topics.

Skip: Who will be speaking?

Harvey: We are thrilled to have an amazing lineup of the most respected customer communications industry experts and enterprise leaders for this event. Our Keynote speaker, Matt Swain, managing director and practice lead at Broadridge Communications and Customer Experience (CX) Consulting, will share his perspective on the future of communications relative to business priorities and customer preferences in the wake of COVID-19 and how some temporary measures are likely to morph into new norms for communications in the future. Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from Kaspar

Roos, founder and CEO of Aspire Customer Communications Services; Gina Ferrara, senior analyst at Madison Advisors; Pat McGrew, managing director of The McGrew Group; Laney Feingold, lawyer and writer at the Law Offices of Lainey Feingold; and Pina D’Intino, founder of Aequum Global Access.

Our customers will also be sharing their insights and strategies for optimizing customer communications including John Slaney from Content Critical Solutions, Kathy Lovell from Regions Bank, Birkir Gunnarssen from Truist and Ken Schmidt from Ameritas. And you will also hear from our partners – BlueCrest, Canon, BCC Software, Nuxeo, Delphax Solutions, enChoice, Microsoft, Pitney Bowes Software, Deque, AO Docs and Open Access Technologies.

Skip: Any closing remarks?

Harvey: Make sure to check out the agenda and register for this exciting industry event. And if you need another reason to attend? You definitely won’t have tired, aching, blistered feet at the end of the day.

Register today and I hope to “see” you at our first Customer Communications Virtual Summit on May 6th.


Until next interview! Take care.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Dealing with the Pandemic and Making Today a More Productive Day

Antoine DuPont is a recognized expert and strategist in digital marketing. He’s an award-winning marketing agency owner and a speaker at national & international conferences including a keynote presentation at #XPLOR20 September 17-19 in St. Pete Beach Florida.

Recently, Antoine shared some thoughts on dealing with the pandemic and making today a more productive day (or at least he hopes).


From Antoine:

Some days are productive and some aren’t.

Yesterday wasn’t productive. I kept getting distracted by  Facebook or by the latest news article on the pandemic.

So I went in the kitchen looking for a snack. I kept telling myself “you’re not hungry, you’re just distracted & anxious”. I made myself a sandwich anyway. Just because.

Today will be a more productive day! I hope…

One of the simple ways I found to stay focused is to take one simple project at a time, like “create 2 short videos” or “redesign my landing page”, “write one blog”

Many of my friends lately have reached out to ask me about the tools I use to run my business. Below are ALL my favorite tools and what I use them for

So if you have good intentions on being productive today (or next week), here you go:
(not in any particular order of preference)

  • InVideo: to create a quick animation or video on the fly
  • RemoveBG : to remove the background on any picture
  • TubeBuddy : to get intelligence on how best to win with my YouTube videos
  • SEM Rush : to get intelligence on keywords and traffic on my website (and my competitors)
  • Custom Thumbnails : when I don’t have time to create my own thumbnails
  • Canva : when I need a graphic done quickly on a tight budget
  • AnswerThePublic: to know what question people ask on the internet with any keyword
  • Zoom : when I need to Zoom with people 😉
  • Basecamp : to manage all our projects
  • Moz Local : to win at the local SEO level
  • Buzz Sumo : to get intelligence on which content is going to perform best
  • Rev : to quickly get a video transcript
  • Videvo: for free stock video footage and clips
  • Death To Stock : for unique non-stock photos and images
  • GT Metrix: to check the load speed of any website
  • Splasheo : to customize a video for social media with captions

Have a happy productive day. Cheers!

Stay safe & be well. Hope to meet you in St. Pete Beach.

Antoine Dupont
Sales & Marketing Speaker + Consultant
W 561-272-8567

M 561-441-5478
antoine@katapult.biz
Speaking: www.antoinedupont.com
Join: www.facebook.com/groups/antoinedupont
Subscribe: www.youtube.com/antoinedupont

For more information on #XPLOR20 please visit: https://bit.ly/3eewLVH

An Interview with Kaspar Roos of Aspire CCS

By: Skip Henk, President/CEO of Xplor International

I have known Kaspar for almost a decade and he is the consummate professional. His enthusiasm and dedication to the industry have made him a recognized expert, consultant, and thought-leader in the Customer Communications Management (CCM) industry.

After leaving InfoTrends’, where he lead the global production workflow and customer communications advisory service, Kaspar founded Aspire, specializing in the CCM and Digital Customer Experience (DCX) industries.

Aspire is working on a new study that deals with “How to be successful with digital and omni-channel services at this time of deep disruption”, so I wanted to speak with him about the study and what to expect.

Skip: Kaspar, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I am intrigued by your new study. Tell me a little about it and what can recipients expect to learn from it?

Kaspar: Obviously, the industry has been on a track toward digitization for two decades now. We’ve seen postal volumes plunge precipitously in Europe and North America since the turn of the last century.

Alongside the march toward digital, the other obvious trend is the shift in the balance of power in the B2C communications market in favor of the consumer. Customer experience has become such an important metric that improving it and perfecting omni-channel messaging have become the top communications priorities for businesses worldwide.

So, with that in mind, when we conceived this research study very early in the year, we were committed to surveying consumers and businesses in the US and Canada to find out what “next gen” use cases and applications were gaining traction in the real world so that service providers could invest accordingly. Of course, in the weeks since its inception, the multi-client has taken on even more pressing relevance than we could have predicted.

Skip: I assume you are speaking about COVID-19?

Kaspar: Yes, North America has only been in COVID-19 “lockdown” for three or four weeks — Europe for a bit longer — but the digital reality has arrived. Changes that seemed unthinkable have found fast roots. Schools and universities have closed and set up for remote learning. Doctors are conducting tele-appointments. WebEx stocks are soaring as businesses use them for virtual meetings and grandparents in quarantine use them to connect with grandchildren they can’t visit. Anyone would have thought those kind of changes would have taken months, if not years, to set up, but the threat of a global pandemic pushed up the timetable to just a few days. What we’ve witnessed is a significant acceleration of the digital evolution.

It reminds me of the Canadian postal strike that sped up digital adoption and dealt postal volumes a blow from which they’ve never recovered. This event is magnitudes larger and more impactful. Whether social distancing measures last for three months or eighteen, these new ways of interacting are changing the model and altering the ecosystem. This research will help us quantify those changes so we can help providers understand what that means for their business and operating models.

Skip: What’s your timeline for this research? Will it be affected by any economic downturn?

Kaspar: We’re planning to field throughout most of the month of May, so we’re asking for early bird subscriptions before Friday, April 24. Participants signing up before that date will have the opportunity to review a draft of the survey questionnaire and offer feedback before it goes live. After the results have been analyzed, we will deliver a written report of the findings in June and schedule remote briefings with every subscriber thereafter.

We know that the economic uncertainty has people scrambling, but surveys take time to develop and field, and these questions need to be asked, now more than ever. No matter what the economic outlook, communications will continue — they will just be communications in a new reality and on a different mix of channels and through emerging applications and use cases. Business users will need to own communications and manage them from wherever they’re working. Providers will also be facing new competition. Traditional players will need to evolve because digital agencies, business consultancies, solutions integrators and software vendors will all be pursuing the omnichannel opportunity.

What will they all need to do to be successful in the new paradigm? It’s an important question. It’s THE question. That’s why we’re moving now. We have to capture this data while it is most relevant.

Skip: So, what will this study entail?

Kaspar: We’re taking a two-step approach to help service providers transform for digital success. First, will gather the latest market intelligence by surveying 2,000 consumers and 300 businesses in the US and Canada. We want to know what experiences consumers value and what challenges businesses are facing in delivering them. What are these businesses’ investment plans and what do they need from providers? Second, based on these findings and how they rate on the scale of digital maturity, we’ll help subscribers navigate their way to success in this new paradigm by providing input on business planning and strategy so they can align people, process, and technology to create competitive value and differentiate themselves in the market.

Skip: Kaspar, thank you for your time an insight. I look forward to seeing the finished product. Any closing thoughts?

Kaspar: Thank you for the opportunity. If people are interested in subscribing, have questions, or would like additional information please reach out to Paul Abdool (paul.abdool@aspireccs.com) or Will Morgan (will.morgan@aspireccs.com).

Aspire Customer Communications Services
The Junction
Station Road
Watford
WD17 1ET
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 1923 605 526
Email: info@aspireccs.com


About Kaspar Roos: Kaspar is a leading expert, consultant, and recognized thought-leader in the Customer Communications Management (CCM) industry. He is the CEO and founder of Aspire, a boutique consulting firm specializing in the CCM and Digital Customer Experience (DCX) industries. Kaspar has more than 15 years of experience in the CCM space and is a regular speaker at industry conferences and events. He has worked with every leading CCM technology vendor and many leading service providers to help them with strategy and business development.

In June 2018 Kaspar spearheaded the launch of The Aspire Leaderboard, the industry’s first interactive CCM vendor positioning portal. Designed to take the complexity out of CCM decision-making, the Leaderboard features independent vendor evaluations, supported by dynamic filtering capabilities, alongside the latest CCM news, insight and events.

Prior to establishing Aspire, Kaspar was responsible for running InfoTrends’ global production workflow and customer communications advisory service. Here he provided market research, insights and strategic consulting services that helped leading technology vendors and service providers understand the shifts in the customer communications and workflow markets.

Kaspar received a Masters of Science (MSC) degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from the University of Twente (Netherlands), with specializations in information systems and business-to-business marketing.

How can my company leverage industry certification?

Scott Draeger, Vice President of Customer Transformation at Quadient has been a huge proponent of industry certification, he himself a designated Master Electronic Document Professional (M-EDP). Over the last several years, Quadient has invested both time and financial resources promoting industry certification within the company.

I wanted to circle back with Scott to get his thoughts on the impact within his organization and whether he feels the investment has paid dividends.

Skip: Scott, thank you for taking the time to speak about industry certification

Scott: I can always find time to speak about industry certification, because it is most important when an industry is changing. Our industry is changing rapidly, so industry certification helps companies like Quadient prove to the market that we are up to date in our knowledge.

Skip: Quadient places a great deal of value on industry certification. Quadient now has 188 designated or certified professionals. What percentage of total employees is that? Why is industry certification important to you and Quadient?

Scott: Over 20% of Quadient’s staff has an official Designation from Xplor. I believe that makes us the most certified software vendor in the industry in both volume and percentage. But, the location of the certifications also matters. Our services team in the Americas is 100% certified, which means they bring context, knowledge and passion to all of their projects.

Skip: Can you tell me a little bit about the EDP certification program?

Scott: The EDP program is about your passion and reflecting on your place within the customer communication and document industry. This is a differentiated industry certification, because it takes review of your work by your peers to earn the EDP or M-EDP designation. It is harder to earn than a purely test-based certificate, because it requires written samples that show the application of practical knowledge to real-world document projects.

Skip: What value does it present to your customers and prospects?

Scott: When we discuss implementations with our customers and prospects, we proudly feature our team’s participation in the EDP program to show that we understand context. The EDP matrix considers “Document Production Journey” and “Document Application Development Lifecycle” and values diversity of experience with technology and business needs. This means that our customers and prospects are assured that we understand the tools, technology and context of their communication projects.

Some people may not know just how much effort Xplor puts into keeping the EDP certification relevant. The matrix has been updated by a very active committee to add mobile and web channels, as well as analytics. There are more opportunities to reward skills in business acumen and knowledge sharing. The certification committee makes sure this is a current reflection on the skills and technologies needed, and the reviewers are open to learning about new technology in the submissions.

Skip: You include certification statistics in your proposals. What impact does it have? How does it differentiate Quadient from your competitors?

Scott: This is an interesting question. One of the common responses is, “what is an EDP?” We love that one, because it lets us talk about how the EDP program is a way for us to ensure development of our people. It differentiates us from competitors because it shows that we have awareness of how we can best use new approaches to solve business problems of communication. We list this in our RFP responses and proudly present this to any customers and prospects.

Skip: What has been the reaction/feedback from your employees?

Scott: My coworkers at Quadient seem to value the program. I have personally been the mentor for about eight of them in the past four years. Every year, we have a kickoff presentation to explain the program, and we usually get 50-100 people on that first call. Of course, it’s been running for four years, so we are getting the new people into the EDA program as soon as possible. The first crop of EDAs are starting to consider their EDP next year.

Skip: In closing, what message do you have for individuals and company’s regarding industry certification?

Scott: At the rate business and technology change, it is important to pursue certification for a few reasons. First, earning a certification shows your peers and managers that you are serious about the industry. Second, the process of pursuing a certification reminds you that you don’t, in fact know everything. This does wonderful things to expand your thinking, at a minor cost to your pride. Lastly, earning a certification is a potential differentiator in a job market that is rapidly changing in terms of both business models and technology. I recently earned a CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional) certificate from CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association) to augment my M-EDP to show that I have made progress in studying the CX literature.

Skip: Scott, once again, thank you for taking the time and congratulations on your success. Anyone interested in obtaining additional information about the EDP certification program can visit www.xplor.org/edp or call Xplor International at 813-949-6170.

Scott: Anytime, Skip! I recommend the program to anyone in the document and customer communication industry, because it will change your perspective. The EDP program is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on your abilities and experiences. I believe this frame of mind is essential for long term career success, because it gives you a chance to see what areas you can grow into as you steer your career. Also, it can get you a chance to shake Skip’s hand on stage at Xplor 2020!

Until next time! Take care.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Exploring XPLOR19 with Skip Henk, EDP

Submitted by: Skip Henk, EDP

I had the opportunity to spend time with one of my favorite people, Deborah Corn, the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at Print Media Centr.

We had a great discussion about this year’s XPLOR19 event, our partnerships with both the ISA International Sign Expo as well as the APTech LeadingPRINT Forum, and what it all means to attendees and the industry in general.

If you had any questions about what the event is and why our three organizations have come together, this short podcast should shed some light. Enjoy!



Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Speed of Change 3 – A Whole New Pandora’s Box

Submitted by Harry Stephens, President/CEO of DATAMATX
April 26, 2018

It’s been over a decade since I wrote a column titled “The Speed of Change.” In it, I discussed how technology was completely changing our relationship with time, which in turn, was changing our business processes dramatically.  In 2007, the technologies we were figuring out how to integrate were the Internet, PDAs and the new iPhone. Fast forward four years to 2011, when I wrote a column called The Speed of Change 2.  In 2011, it was a whole new set of tools, like mobile applications and media tablets, social networking and cloud services, that were demanding our attention.  Within a short time, these tools, and more, were all part of our daily lives, setting a completely new standard.

Of course, since 2011, the speed of change hasn’t stopped. In fact, it’s accelerated. And while things have become easier in many ways because of these advances, things have also become scarier. In fact, what I am calling The Speed of Change 3 has opened a whole new Pandora’s box.  While technological advances have provided our businesses with the potential to create more efficient systems, they have also opened new avenues for data protection threats.

We all read about these data breaches daily. Recently, I just read that the average data security breach takes less time to pull off than it does to prepare a cup of coffee, with 93 percent occurring in less than one minute. Conversely, it can take a business a very long time to recover from one. In the business we are in, where sensitive data is part of our daily work, a data breach would spell disaster. Therefore, every company, no matter what size, needs to have a security program in place. While there is no one security product or control that can prevent data breaches, it is critical that in our type of business we do what it takes to maintain the highest level of security possible with processes and procedures that eliminate vulnerabilities in a timely manner.

At DATAMATX, we have always dedicated extensive resources and implemented additional processes to ensure our clients continue to have the highest level of confidence in the managing and processing of their data. This has included successfully meeting rigorous compliance requirements year after year with third-party audits to continue to achieve FISMA, PCI DSS 3.2 and SOC 2 + HITRUST CSF certifications as well as investing heavily in cyber liability insurance.

It also includes making continued extensive upgrades to our comprehensive information security policies and procedures, establishing a continuous monitoring program and developing a risk based approach to protect the data and physical security of our three facilities. Additionally, for many years now, we have had a disaster recovery plan in place, with three comprehensive, fully redundant facilities and now have a more defined business continuity plan to ensure we meet the ever increasing client SLAs and audit requirements. To be sure, all of this took an investment on our part in time, effort and money.  But what is the potential cost of a data breach in terms of time, effort and money—and a company’s reputation? I shudder to think. In a recent meeting at our facility, a cyber insurance expert we invited to speak presented a data breach case study of 50,000 PII records being exposed with a final cost of $29 million dollars with crisis management, customer notification, lawsuits and regulatory fines being paid.

Technology is constantly changing and with those changes come security and privacy threats every organization faces. At DATAMATX, we focus a great deal of our attention on ensuring data security compliance standards. And, yes, it requires an investment from a business standpoint that affects the bottom line.

However, if you want to play the game today in the service provider industry—and not be viewed as simply the low-cost provider—you must think about whether your company is doing enough to protect your clients’ data. Because it is their expectations that security is an integral part of your business model that has set the bar. So, let me leave you with this thought:  If you want to be successful in the transactional and direct mail business, then it is important to understand that security and compliance are now in the driver’s seat—and the real bottom line.

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