Customer Experience: Put the patty on the damn bun!

By Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International

Over the last year I have been spending a great deal of time better understanding the varying intricacies of a customer experience, its relationship to our industry, and how a great customer experience can pay big dividends.

An article I read the other day by Warren Buffet said, “Your business will succeed if you execute this three word mission, DELIGHT YOUR CUSTOMER.” Speaking at the 20th Graduation of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses at LaGuardia Community College, Buffett told the graduates: “Tomorrow morning when you look in the mirror after you’ve gotten up, just write — or just put it in lipstick or whatever you want — ‘delight my customer’ not ‘satisfy my customer.’ ‘Delight my customer.’”

This perhaps is the most descriptive and succinct definition of a the Customer Experience I have read.

(To read the article http://tinyurl.com/jxgghuy )

We have dozens of customer experiences each week which can vary greatly. Whether you are dropping your clothes off at the cleaners, going to the grocery store or ordering on Amazon we have plenty of opportunity to be delighted.

Some of the most mundane of interactions can be delightful with delight being driven by expectations.

Setting Expectations
Customer experience is how we expect to be treated in a given situation. When we go to the cleaners, we don’t want to wait in line too long to drop them off and we want our clothes cleaned properly and ready when promised. At the grocery store, we expect shelves to be well stocked, for the store to be clean and for there to be plenty of cashiers or self serve kiosks to minimize our wait when leaving. When ordering online, we look for availability, price, shipping costs and time. Then we expect our purchase to arrive on or before the date promised.

Expectations vary based on the task and whether we have high or low expectations. When expectations are met, it represents a good experience.

Put the Patty on the Damn Bun
I occasionally go to a fast food restaurant, typically with fairly low expectations. I do expect to wait if I go during a peak times and I automatically assume my order is will not be right, so I check it. I also expect that it is at least warm.  Reasonable but certainly not high expectations.

hamburgerLast week, I had a Big Mac craving and ventured to McDonald’s to order myself a Big Mac and fries.  (Don’t judge me, I know the Big Mac is 560 calories and fries add an additional 368 calories; this isn’t the point)  The “customer experience” was going along well, I did not have to wait long, the order appeared correct and I saw the fries come out the fryer, so they were nice and hot. I was good to go. I sat down to eat and opened my Big Mac finding BOTH patties were hanging halfway off the bun. Not sure exactly why it crossed me but it did.

As I looked at my burger I contemplated taking it back but decided not to do so. What I realized is that the customer experience can in fact be a moving target with expectations theoretically changing with each transaction. The same may hold true for our industry.

At the Xplor at Graph Expo breakfast session, September 27th in Orlando, our panel, moderated by Matt Swain of Infotrends, will try and answer the question:  “With advancements in technology and changes in human behavior, is offering a superior customer experience a moving target?”

If you are planning to attend Graph Expo, I invite you to attend our complimentary breakfast session sponsored by Canon Solutions America, Compart North America, Pitney Bowes and Xerox Corporation. For more information and to register, visit the event website.

As far as my Big Mac expectations, “Put the damn patty on the bun!”

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

What EDP Means to Me

Xplor President/CEO Interview with Franklin Friedmann, 20 Year EDP
July 6, 2016

Continuing from my most recent interview, Benefits to Becoming EDP Certified, I recently caught up with Franklin Friedmann who will be celebrating his 20th year as an EDP this year to discuss what the EDP certification means to him.

If you missed my first post, you can read it and an outline of the EDP Program here.

Skip: Franklin, thank you for taking the time to meet with me!

Franklin: A pleasure.

 

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

Franklin:  My manager had chosen me to be the first person a Certified Printing specialist with the company. However, recognizing that an EDP(P) had more currency with clients, I told him I would do the Xplor initiative first.

 

Skip: You were a part of the 1996 class, the last year of EDPP Program before they dropped a ‘P’ to better accommodate of digital communication technologies. What have you noticed about this ever-changing industry since?

Franklin: The technology accelerates, though EDP does and should continue to stand for professionalism while content may change.

 

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

Franklin: It represents a level of attainment, even as the industry shifts to a wider set of values. It therefore is a benchmark.

 

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

Franklin: Clients in the transactional space may recognize the credentials. You must prove yourself regardless. My sphere of operation is as a consultant.

 

Skip: Who do you think should attain their certification?

Franklin:  It depends on your current and planned career. EDP is a stepping stone; it may be useful in your organization as a way to measure your knowledge base. It is one of the steps that should also help if you regularly work with clients outside, not only inside your organization.

Thank you again Franklin for taking the time. If anyone has any additional questions regarding the EDP Certification program, please visit www.xplor.org/edp.

Until next time! Take care.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Benefits to Becoming EDP Certified

Xplor President/CEO Interview with Cheryl Simerson, EDP, 2016 EDP Commission Chair
June 16, 2016

Most everyone in the industry is familiar with continuing education and professional certifications. However, many may not be aware of the Electronic Document Professional (EDP) certification that is available to all professionals in the electronic document and customer communications industry.

The EDP Program: Launched in 1989 as the Electronic Document Printing Professional (EDPP) program was created to recognize those in the industry as subject matter experts in the area of digital print. Regulated by the EDPP Commission, the first class in 1990 consisted of eleven individuals receiving their EDPP certification. As the industry evolved and new technologies became part of the landscape the EDPP commission dropped the reference to ‘Printing’ in 1997 to accommodate other digital communication technologies.

The EDP program is sponsored and maintained by Xplor International which oversees the EDP Commission, however you do not need to be a member of Xplor International for certification or re-certification

I had the chance to speak with Cheryl Simerson, EDP, our new 2016 EDP Commission Chair to discuss her thoughts on EDP certification, as well as, where she would like to take the EDP Program over the next year.

Skip: Cheryl, thank you for taking the time to meet with me and share your views regarding the EDP Program.

Cheryl: No problem! It is my pleasure.

 

Skip: So give me your elevator pitch. What or who is an EDP?

Cheryl: An EDP is someone who has a considerable depth of knowledge and experience in the digital document and customer communications industry and actively working in the industry for a minimum of five years.

 

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

Cheryl: I received my EDP certification in 1995 and have gone on to recertify every 5 years over the past 20 years.

I originally set the goal for myself to obtain my certification due to not having a college degree and wanted to prove to myself and my peers that although I did not have a degree, I was an expert in the digital printing industry. At that time, a lot of us obtained our knowledge through hands on experience and never took the time out of our work schedules to go back to school to obtain a degree but instead, attended individual vendor educational courses and conferences.

 

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

Cheryl: To be one of a very elite group of electronic document professionals is very special to me and I look forward to our yearly onsite networking event with my peers who have also achieved this certification level during the Xplor International global conference.

 

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

Cheryl: When I first started working on my EDP portfolio and work examples, as I mentioned above, I did it as an accomplishment for myself in order to achieve this personal goal. At that time, I had already been with my company for many years so I didn’t benefit immediately from obtaining my certification. When I finally went out seeking another job opportunity, I discovered my certification brought attention to being a Subject Matter Expert (SME) which proved to bring in a higher salary.

 

Skip: Who do you think should attain their certification?

Cheryl: Anyone interested in expanding their career in the industry should apply! The EDP Certification Handbook can be found on the EDP site.

 

Skip: As the new EDP Commission Chair, do you have any goals you’d like to help the EDP Program achieve?

Cheryl: One of my goals as this year’s Commissioner is to educate individuals in our industry regarding the program. I want to reach out beyond Xplor International members but to the industry as a whole. The first step is a series of interviews talking about the impact EDP certification in E-Document News.

Another area is to reach out to our colleges and universities regarding certification and I look forward to working with Xplor International and the board of directors to market the program. Not only do I want to promote the EDP Certification Program but also our other two designations, Electronic Document Associate (EDA) and Master Electronic Document Professional (M-EDP).

 

Skip: Thank you again Cheryl for taking the time.

If anyone has any additional questions regarding the EDP Certification program, please visit the EDP page or you can contact Cheryl directly at Cheryl.simerson@yahoo.com.

Until Next interview! Take care.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

An interview with Harry Lewis, President of the Advanced Function Presentation Consortium

Xplor President/CEO Skip Henk Interviews Harry Lewis, President of the AFP Consortium

Most everyone in the Xplor Community is familiar with AFP (advanced function presentation) and the impact it has had on our industry over the years. But AFP has come a long way since 1984 when it was first introduced. Most recently, it reached a very important milestone announced in January by the AFP Consortium.

Just a bit of background as to how the consortium came to be:

In October 2004 IBM initiated the formation of the AFP Color Consortium (AFPCC). The purpose was to collaboratively develop color management support in the AFP architecture. This resulted in the creation of the new AFP CMOCA (Color Management Object Content Architecture) specification which was first published in 2006.

In May 2006 IBM announced plans to open up the complete scope of the AFP architecture to the consortium. The new initiative was finalized in February 2009 with incorporation of the AFP Consortium (AFPC).

Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Harry Lewis, president of the Advanced Function Presentation Consortium (AFPC), to get an idea of what the AFPC has been up to for the last several years.

Skip: Harry, thank you for taking the time to talk about the work of the AFPC.

Harry: Skip, certainly, it’s my pleasure.

Skip: Since IBM’s announcement in February 2009, could you share with our readers how the AFPC has evolved and what initiatives they have undertaken?

LewisHarry: As you well know, the print industry, and especially the digital printing industry, is constantly changing. The consortium has been hard at work helping AFP’s end users stay ahead of the game, making big strides on key issues, such as reaching agreement on a standard interchange set (IS/3), continuing to enhance color support, and defining a metadata framework to support tagging at the print file and object level. We defined a subset of AFP for archiving, of which metadata is a key component. Recently, this AFP archive (AFP/A) subset achieved ISO certification, which is essential for end users who want a high degree of confidence when creating searchable, reliable archives, whether to meet their internal needs or to satisfy externally mandated compliance.

Skip: What does ISO certification mean for AFP and its users?

Harry: ISO certification provides a level of assurance to AFP’s end users that the Archive standard brings the levels of data fidelity and efficiency they’ve come to expect from AFP, and, in cases of maintaining regulatory compliance, it gives them something to point to that indicates their archive format is recognized and accepted around the globe.

Skip: So what is next for the AFPC?

Harry: Commercial variable data has been a growing segment of AFP’s user base for a while, and, with the commercial space evolving as rapidly as it is, we intend to track and adapt to those changes to help ensure AFP users are able to meet their – and their customers’ – needs effectively, efficiently and reliably.

Skip: How can companies get involved in the AFPC?

Harry: If a company develops or sells an AFP hardware or software product, tool set or service, they may be eligible for membership. They can request further information through the Membership Information widget on our website, afpcinc.org.

Skip: Harry, I would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. For our readers, you can find out more about the great work of the AFPC and its numerous standards, by visiting http://afpcinc.org/afp-publications/.

About the AFPC
The AFP Consortium is an international open standards body consisting of 33 companies committed to the continued development of the AFP architecture. Since 2004, the AFPC has developed open standards for accurate and consistent ICC-based color management, high-speed complex text, page group recovery within high-volume production, the IS/3 interchange set for compliance, and metadata support for AFP Archive and future applications, such as accessibility features.  The AFPC will continue in its role to grow and maintain the complete set of AFP architecture.

To see a full list of the Consortium’s members and learn more about the AFP Consortium and the new IS/3 AFP interchange set, visit the AFPC website http://www.afpcinc.org.

Until Next interview! Take care.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Personalized Video … where does it fit?

By Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International
*Cover photo compliments of  Pitney Bowes EngageOne® Video mentioned in post

Personalized Video … where does it fit?
My Grandson recently participated in a “fun run” to help raise money for his school. He ran 39 laps with friends and relatives pledging $$$ per lap. Not a new concept as it has been going on for years. What was unique is that the event actually was organized and managed by an event company who provided all the marketing collaterals, prizes, the online payment portal, etc.

As part of the marketing effort, the event company created a personalized video for the participant to help promote the event to family and friends. The video, albeit a bit too long in my opinion, was a great marketing tool as it features several shots of the participant embedded in the video, which every grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin and/or family friend watched, because it was cute and personal.

To view a sample video click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvvQiUyaLPU

Cute, but there is much more!
The application as it relates to the “fun run” was cute but only reached the tip of the iceberg of what I have found personalized video is capable of.  In preparation for our upcoming conference, I researched various products offered by the likes of Sunday Sky, Pitney Bowes, etc. to find a speaker for our event.

What I have discovered in the bit of research that I did is that a well done personalized video can allow an incredible exchange of information, almost creating a “virtual relationship” with a customer or prospect.  As part of a multi or omni-channel strategy personalized video can significantly enhance the customer experience.

I was able to find a demo by Pitney Bowes online and viewed it at least six different times.  I had several opportunities to select different options that took the video in different directions, all of which extrapolated various responses and information from me.  After I closed and returned to the demo site it “welcomed me back.”  The possibilities appeared endless and I certainly could see the potential in terms of engaging a customer or prospect. If you would like to check it out go to: http://www.mypbvideo.com/engageonevideo (Cover photo is a screen shot of my experience).

In the scope of multi-channel communications, personalized video certainly offers some unique capabilities to engage someone in a truly personal and interactive manner.  As the technology is embraced it will be interesting to see the various applications and uses.

Pitney Bowes will present “The Future of Customer Engagement is Video. And the Future is Now.” at Xploration 16 in Orlando on April 5th. Along with their presentation, we have fifty-four others that deal with the technologies, processes and best practices that are driving multi/omni-channel communications as well as the customer experience.

I invite you to check it out at www.xplor.org , click on events, then Xploartion 16 Conference. If you are an end user* and have not attended an Xplor conference in the past, I still have a couple complimentary registrations as part of our First Timers Recognition Program.

Look forward to receiving your thoughts on personalized video.

Any questions contact me at skip@xplor.org. Hope to see you in Orlando.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

 


*End users are identified as users/buyers of technology. Includes, but not limited to, banking, insurance, healthcare, government, utilities, commercial printers, service bureaus, etc.

“What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

By Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International

Every year around this time I have the opportunity to speak with people about attending our annual conference. Generally questions include fees, the hotel, content, schedule, networking opportunities, and so on.

I also have conversations with people who tell me that they are unable to attend because it is not in the budget. My personal favorite is “my company does not believe in conferences.” The same has held true when I talk about industry certification. “We have no budget, or our company does not see the value.”

One has to ask, why do companies not want to develop their people? I received something from a friend of mine at Print Media Center the other day that makes a great deal of sense…

CFO asks CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?”
CEO to CFO: “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

It is costly if you don’t!

Investing in employees is a good investment. It makes employees more productive, speeds up their growth, increases employee satisfaction and retention and is good for your customers.

One year we had an attendee say that he returned with several new ideas for his company that resulted in several millions of dollars in savings. His company invested less than $1500 for him to attend a conference. He also received a cash bonus. The company benefited, he benefited, and his customers benefited.

Investments go beyond attending conferences. One of our members and sponsors put out a challenge to their employees to get an industry certification or designation. The company, GMC Software, made the investment in time and covered all certification fees. As a result, 124 of GMC’s employees obtained either an EDA designation or EDP certification. That is 20% of their employees in one year!

Why did GMC do it? Because they want to developed their people and make them more valuable to the company and subsequently, their customers.

We want to invest in you!

I have attended dozens of conferences over the years and when I do, I have only one objective: leave with one idea or contact that not only paid for the conference, but made me money. Over the years, I have made a lot of money for the companies I have worked for.

Xplor conferences are filled with a wealth of knowledge, great ideas, and great contacts. As such, I would like you to attend the conference free as my guest. (Sorry but you will have to cover travel and hotel)

Xploration® 16 will take place April 5-7, 2016 at the Caribe Royale Orlando in Florida. – featuring 55+ educational sessions, 3 keynote speakers, 2 networking lunches, 2 evening networking events and 35 exhibitors.

For more information, click here.

To receive a complimentary conference pass (Value $1199) simply meet these three simple criteria:

1. An end user* (no vendors please)
2. Have not attended an Xplor annual conference for the last eight years
3. Stay at our host hotel, the Caribe Royale Orlando, a beautiful resort property for $159/night.

To apply, click here.

Any questions contact me at skip@xplor.org. Hope to see you in Orlando.

 

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

 


*End users are identified as users/buyers of technology. Includes, but not limited to, banking, insurance, healthcare, government, utilities, commercial printers, service bureaus, etc.

The Anti-Customer Experience

By Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International

A great deal of focus for Xploration 16 is on the Tracks & Topics 1Customer Experience as well as the technologies and processes that surround it. I must admit in helping put together our 2016 Education Matrix, I learned a great deal in trying define both the concept of Customer Experience and the complex world surrounding it.

However, after a recent experience with my health insurance company I may have been negligent in leaving out one category: The Anti-Customer Experience.

The Start of the Anti-Customer Experience
I recently received an email from my insurance provider who notified me via email that I should have received my enrollment package and I was enrolled for 2016. The problem was that I had not in fact received my enrollment package and had no idea what my premium would be or if there was a change in my coverage. So I decided to call their hotline.

Could it Get Worse? (Hint: Yes)
Once I got past the oh-so simple just let me talk to a person menu prompts and through the awful hold music, my conversation started when I spoke to Walter in Customer Service. He asked standard questions to verify my identity so I provided my policy number, name, social security, etc. Walter then informed me that since I had a current policy, I needed to speak with a different department. So he forwarded me to Lisa in Member Services. I provided the same information to Lisa, explained the same reason for calling, and then was told I needed to talk to the sales department since it was for a renewal. After Lisa forwarded me to Sierra in Sales, I (again) gave the same information, repeated the same process and guess what!? Do you see where this is going yet? Yep. I was forwarded once again, but this time to Ida (who told me I needed member services again!), then Dora and finally a manager Nigel. Dora was the most helpful as she stayed on the phone with me WHILE contacting her manager (Nigel) and promised not to forward me again. Only took five people for good service…

Total process to get a quote for 2016 and my pamphlet? 32 minutes.

Adding Insult to Injury – (and a bit of venting)
After I voiced my frustration to Nigel about the whole process, he apologized but then informed me that my 2016 premium was 36% higher (no further comment here).  He did offer me a policy that had fewer benefits and in his words was ”only $182.15 higher per month”. This was still about a 10% increase in my policy. Somehow I did not feel good paying more for less while spending 30 minutes and getting aggravated. I did not feel the love.

The results of the Anti-Customer Experience Campaign
As a result of my “pleasant” experience, I am now spending my time looking for alternative healthcare plans which to me only surpasses my disdain in buying a new car.

It really was not the 10% increase, which I am still not happy with, or the reduction in benefits, even though with a family is hard to swallow. How they treated me as a customer paying a lot of money for coverage is what drove me to look elsewhere. It is just about the principal.

The CommercialXplor16_300x150
Xploration 16 has a great deal of content on the importance of the Customer Experience. If you have never attended the annual Xplor event and are an end user, I invite you to apply for our “First Timer Recognition Program”. Here, you will have the chance of receiveing a FREE full conference pass to enjoy the event. Are you an Xplor Veteran? Than we have a package that will cover your conference pass AND hotel stay. Just get to Orlando and you’ll be taken care of.  Hope to see you there!

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

What is Behind GMC Software’s New Look? An Interview with Tamir Sigal, CMO of GMC Software

Xplor President/CEO Skip Henk Interviews Tamir Sigal, CMO of GMC Software

GMC Software has been a longtime supporter of Xplor International and a leading provider of Customer Communications Management (CCM) software for many years.

Headquartered in Switzerland and with offices throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia, GMC Software serves thousands of users worldwide in a wide range of industries including financial services, banking, insurance, health care and the service providers that serve those industries.  In 2012 GMC Software was purchased by Neopost.

Recently GMC launched a new logo. The familiar “GMC Software” is still part of the moniker but some interesting graphics have been introduced.

So as one who is always curious about the meaning behind logos, I, Skip Henk, decided to contact GMC Software’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tamir Sigal, to see what I could find out.


Skip: Tamir, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. For our readers who are not familiar with GMC Software could you give us your 15 second elevator pitch?

Tamir SigalTamir:  It’s good to talk to you, Skip. GMC Software helps companies communicate with their customers and employees. We empower organizations to create stronger engagements with timely and relevant communications. We are the only company that provides the means for business users to develop contextual, highly individualized communications across all channels that span the entire customer journey. As a leader in customer communications, GMC supports thousands of clients and partners in banking, insurance, healthcare and service providers around the world.

Skip: I like the new logo. What drove the introduction of a new logo?

Tamir: GMC has served our market well since the company’s inception over 20 years ago. We have long-standing relationships with many of the leading companies and biggest brands in the world. And during that time there have been a lot of changes in the way people interact. Today, our customers rely on us to help them deliver digital engagements across multiple channels with one design. It was time to give GMC Software a new look and voice. Obviously a logo is a big part of a company’s brand.

Skip: Can you share the story behind its development? What do the graphics represent?

GMC Logo 062215Tamir: With the new logo, we wanted to reiterate our focus on delivering outstanding products, using the latest technologies and overachieving on customer needs. So first and foremost, the logo represents a focus on customers – GMC’s customers and our clients’ customers. The second theme of the logo is around technology. Today’s technology devices are responsive and utilize pinching to zoom in and out of visual elements. The frame represents the need for all solutions today to be responsive. Finally, today’s journey is not just about onboarding and delivering monthly communications. Every interaction
a leading brand has with their customers is important – and the symbol allows companies to focus on specific steps of the entire journey.

Skip: What do the graphics and colors represent?

Tamir: The idea was to use gradient colors to make a connection between the 20 years of experience and the future of GMC Software. We wanted to incorporate the previous logo’s colors and themes. The best way to do this is by using gradient shading.

Skip: You also changed your tagline from “The smartest way to engage customers” to “Your Customers. Engaged.” Why make this change?

Tamir: The tagline we used was specifically related to the GMC Inspire product line. The new tagline is more relevant at the corporate level. At GMC, we wanted to move the focus away from our product to what our customers want to achieve with their customers – better engagement.   

Skip: I thank you for taking the time to share with our readers more about GMC and your new branding. Any closing thoughts?

Tamir: For your readers, I invite them to visit our new website at www.gmc.net. There is a great deal of information and resources available that may be of interest to them.

Skip: Once again Mr. Sigal, thank you for your time and for your ongoing support of Xplor over the last 20 years. I look forward to seeing the GMC team at Xploration 16 in Orlando.


I highly encourage our readers to take a look at GMC’s new website because it does look great! I always enjoy the great blog postings GMC has and recently read a good one by Scott Draeger that you should take a look at. It’s titled: A glimpse into the future of Customer Communications Management (CCM).

Until next interview! Take care.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Could Big Data Bite Us in The Clouds?

Submitted by Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International
June 23, 2015

Big data has been touted as a means of helping target individual consumers for specific products and services based on a culmination of data points. It can be income, homeownership, where you live, if you have children, and so many other things. There are hundreds of different criteria that can be used in attempt to provide the right message, to the right person, at the right time, using the right media.

It’s a beautiful thing …
On the surface, big data’s virtues seem to present a win-win for marketers as well as the recipients of the barrage of marketing communications we receive each day. After all, attaching targeted demographics reduces the amount of communications being sent, thus reducing costs and increasing response rates. We benefit by receiving fewer aggravating and irrelevant communications and we receive more offers that are more targeted and match an individual’s lifestyle.

Looking at big data in this way makes it a ‘beautiful thing’. A technology and methodology that actually reduces costs to the sender and cuts down on the junk we receive in our email, mailbox and now our cellphones. Sign me up!

BUT beauty may just be in the eyes of the beholder ….
Hypothetically, what if big data had another angle to it? What if it was used to target individuals and as a result certain people were asked to pay more for the same product and/or service than someone else because they ‘could afford to’ (or not)?

I read an article this morning that is implies exactly that.

The airline industry is looking at big data to set ticket prices. In the future it may be possible that four airline passengers, who booked the same flight on the same day at the same time, end up paying four different fares because they ‘are different’. Some would pay more and others less.

If maybe you live in Manhattan, where living costs are normally higher, the airline could assume you can afford to pay more.  Maybe you live in a particularly nice zip code. You are a frequent flyer, booking 20-30 trips a year, so you assuredly would be willing to pay more and not give much thought.

According to the article, the amount you may pay for a flight in the future may no longer be just based on when and where you’re flying or when you booked your ticket. Your airfare could be based on who you are, with each fare being theoretically different for everyone.

Should we be angry or surprised?  Car insurance rates for years have been based on the value of your car and where you live while coverage usually is driven by ‘how much you have to lose’. But airline tickets?! Seems wrong to me.

So where could this take us?  The possibilities are endless, even if they today sound absurd. It is inevitable that if the airline industry goes this way, others will follow.

As I get closer to retirement, maybe I will consider selling my home and buying an old car so I can get lower airfare. It is a strategy…

Just think of the possibilities … Until next time.


The complete article reference in this post can be found on Yahoo!
https://www.yahoo.com/travel/how-airlines-might-gouge-you-in-the-future-121613697017.html?soc_src=unv-sh&soc_trk=ma

skip_Henk_Photo_2011
Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

A look at Xploration 15 from the Student Perspective

Xplor International University Chapter, Ryerson University
Interview by Skip Henk, EDP with Ryerson students Valerie Drozdowsky and Kyle Tavares


Almost two years ago Xplor International and Xplor Canada launched their first University Chapter at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Since that time Xplor Ryerson has prospered with student members holding onsite campus events, a job fair, attending Xploration 14 as well as the 2014 Xplor at Graph Expo event and most recently Xploration 15 in Orlando, Florida.

And as time has passed some of the “founding” members of the chapter are graduating and venturing into the workforce.

I recently asked Kyle Tavares and Valerie Drozdowsky, two of the founding members of the Xplor Ryerson Chapter what their thoughts were on Xploration 15.

Skip: What was the value to you and the other Ryerson students in being able to speak with vendors and other document professionals at Xploration 15?

Kyle: Although we are used to speaking and networking with vendors when we attend other trade shows, Xploration 15 was a unique experience for all of us. As a student we usually do not get the “time of day” from the sales people because they know we are students and will not be purchasing their products or services.

At Xploration15 it was the exact opposite – we were able to speak with people who wanted to converse with us. Many of the vendor participants were decision makers who were very interested in what we thought about the Xploration15 experience, and they took the time to educate us on the goods and services they provide.

Valerie: The value that I find in speaking with vendors and other document professionals as a student is getting a chance to learn more about the mission that the vendors are trying to create as a company and also gaining the confidence to even speak to them. It may seem funny but being a student, it’s hard to know where you stand against these professionals who have worked in the industry for years. After a bit of time, the main value I get is recognition. When they start to remember your name and who you are, you feel valuable.

Skip: Was there anything in particular that you learned that may help your career?

Kyle: The experience taught me a lot about networking. As a student I found the educational sessions were very well done. I was able to attend most of the sessions that interested me and pull very valuable information from all of them. The best ones for students I thought were the LinkedIn and networking sessions. I found those very applicable for students. Many of the panel discussions also contained great information. It was great to be able to ask insightful questions about the topics.

Valerie: I have learned that building relationships is a very big part of being successful in the business world. Watching how everyone interacts at these conferences I now understand how to act, dress and communicate professionally in a conference and a working environment. All of this has made me develop a passion to work in the industry that I am entering. I have also learned how to approach and communicate with others, whether they are much older or much more experienced than I am. Being the second conference that I have attended, I found it easier to join in conversations and discussions, whether personal conversations or group discussions.

Skip: Any opportunities you may have to explore employment opportunities?

Kyle: For me personally it was a great opportunity to speak with a variety of vendors. I spoke with several vendors including Mary from NEPS to inquire what their business was all about. Later that evening their President approached me and asked if I would like an opportunity to interview with NEPS. Just following Xploration15 I had an interview and I am now a NEPS employee.

Valerie: Last year I was able to make a connection for an internship opportunity with Symcor, in Mississauga for the summer of 2014. It was required to complete a 420 hour internship at a company related to our school work and the graphic arts industry.

This year was a bit different. I did get to meet a lot of new employers, mostly from the U.S. Since I am looking for employment in Canada I wasn’t able to find an employment opportunity directly from the conference but I did make additional connections. I had a third interview with TC Media a week ago and I am still waiting for a response. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed.

Skip: Sounds like it was a great event for you both. Do you have any closing remarks?

Kyle: My involvement with Xplor International and the Xplor Ryerson Chapter has provided me opportunity to not only expand my knowledge and personal network, but also launch my career. I would recommend any student looking to be part of the Communications Industry to join Xplor, and if your school has an Xplor University chapter become part of it.

Valerie: It’s always valuable listening to the latest trends in workflows, listening to how companies are getting the younger generation more involved and how the companies are evolving their mission statements to cater more to and fit in with the millennials.
Skip: Valerie and Kyle, thank you for sharing your experiences about Xplor as well as Xploration 15. I look forward to seeing you both next year at Xploration 16.

Note: Any college or university that would like to discuss the possibility of having an Xplor University Chapter can contact Chad Henk at chad@xplor.org or call +1-813-949-6170.

Click here for a brochure on the Xplor University Chapter Program.