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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.

Harry’s Corner – Star ‘n Cones

Submitted by Harry Stephens, President/CEO of DATAMATX
May 11, 2015

Anyone who knows me well knows I love everything about the mail. Even when I travel, I like to visit the local post office to see what it is like—particularly in countries outside the U.S. Recently, I was in Italy on a trip that took us from Rome to hilltop towns built up to 10 centuries ago and to Florence. It was quite a trip with our driver (Paulo) who explained the history of things along the way. Of course, my request was always to stop in each town to see how they managed their mail. What I learned was the post offices in Italy don’t resemble any post office we have here in the United States. Unlike here, where we view the post office as a place to buy stamps and send packages, the Poste Italiane is a place where you can accomplish all sorts of tasks.

You can pay certain bills, collect a pension check, renew a passport and even buy health insurance. Seriously—you can. It is also a competitive operator in the area for financial and payment services: savings accounts, interest-bearing bonds, national and international money orders.

Additionally, you can shop for things like books, CDs and even cell phones. There are posters all around promoting these things and there are consultants on site to help you with whatever you need. In Florence, when I entered the door of the Poste, I saw a machine that dispenses numbered tickets based on what you were planning to do there. Then, similar to the DMV, you waited until your number came up on the screen. The Florence post office was a veritable hub of activity.

Standing there I started thinking about our post offices—what may be missing and it sparked an idea (if you read my column, you know I have made several) for an option that might help alleviate some of the financial burden it carries. If European towns use the post office as a hub for other things besides mail, why can’t we? I know we can’t let a government institution go into banking or sell insurance. Private enterprise would not allow it. But how about getting support from private enterprise in another way?

For example, what if a company like Starbucks® stepped up and decided to help out the situation by creating a franchise model that would rent space from the USPS, similar to how the USPS operates within a Staples store? Or a telecommunications provider, like Verizon® or T – Mobile® have a franchise model that rented space from the USPS? If it was the type of products and services people wanted, and the franchise was located within the USPS real estate, perhaps it would spur activity around the post office itself, encourage local involvement and help offset the costs of operating the building.

This idea strikes me as particularly relevant for local post offices in rural areas where services like the ones mentioned are needed and not always available. A model like this might be a good gesture on the part of a company like Starbucks or Verizon and bring in more foot traffic to help keep our smaller post offices open. A few years ago there was a survey that found at least 6,000 post offices in the U.S. served a volume of only 3.3 people each day. 3.3! People in these areas don’t want to lose their post office—or their jobs. So if it’s some of my earlier suggestions, like “no work Wednesdays,” or decreeing “Saturday a day of rest” that might help save the USPS—or sharing space with Star ‘n Cones—the point is we all know something has to change.

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 DATAMATX at www.datamatx.com.

An Interview with Mike Jackson, CEO of eLynxx Solutions

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

I was recently introduced to Mike Jackson, CEO of eLynxx Solutions and although I was not familiar with eLynxx, Mike certainly had some interesting insight on some of the relevant issues in our industry.

I decided to go back to Mike, ask a few more questions and share them with the E-Document News audience.


Skip: For our readers who are not familiar with eLynxx, give us your 15 second elevator pitch.

Mike: eLynxx Solutions provides cloud software that serves a very specialized need in the marketplace. Our software is purpose-built to help organizations plan, source and manage the acquisition of custom marketing materials such as direct mail, publications, POP signage and all things print. Our platform connects stakeholders and coordinates all steps from planning to payment. In short, it strengthens the marketing supply chain by bringing complete order and transparency to a process that’s usually managed through a maze of emails and spreadsheets.

Skip: Can you tell us about eLynxx itself and perhaps a short history?

Mike
: I’ll try to give you the short description of a long history since eLynxx has been around since 1975. Throughout our forty year history, we’ve helped buyers and producers of custom print work more effectively together to the benefit of both parties. We have extensive experience and expertise working initially with printers to help them compete for GPO projects and later expanding our focus to work with private sector print buying organizations.

A pivotal point in our history came when we invented and patented a method for sourcing custom print. This method solved the so called iron triangle, allowing print buyers to achieve required product quality, on time delivery and lowest price – all at once. Conventional wisdom had previously been that you could only achieve two out the three at any given time.

Today’s eLynxx is principally a software company offering the most robust cloud software available to help print buyers and their organizations achieve cost and operational efficiencies.

Skip: From a positioning stand point, where do you see your products and services in the industry?

Mike: When it comes to buying and managing custom print, organizations have to decide whether they want to have responsibility for it or if they’d rather have someone else do it for them. If they want a third-party to take everything over, there are plenty of capable firms but that’s not our business. When an organization wants to maintain full control of everything and manage it themselves, we can greatly assist them with a solution that’s rather unique in the market.

The concern over working with a BPO or broker that I most often hear in the market is that it requires relinquishing control. Decisions over critical elements like what vendors are used, how much is paid and so forth, are placed in someone else’s hands. Depending on the arrangement, there may be limited transparency or access to information. But on the surface, the business case may look attractive because their buying power likely brings economies to the table.

When organizations maintain control by employing people to directly source and manage projects, they have the benefit of being in charge of everything but typically lack tools made for the job. Too often it’s a highly manual process that relies extensively on spreadsheets, memory, and email. That’s where we come in. As a purpose-built tool built for print buyers, eLynxx software positions organizations to have the control they want and the economic benefit they need. It’s not one or the other.

Unlike third-party arrangements, eLynxx has no print capabilities or vendor relationships. Our clients use our software to empower their own people, streamline their own process and work more effectively with their own trusted vendors. When working directly with print vendors, the inherent profits of the broker model are eliminated. And when our patented sourcing method is applied, the cost of print is reduced to levels that are often favorable to what the third-parties achieve through volume discounts.
So in short, we’re positioning organizations to have the best of both worlds – full control and the most competitive cost. We sum it up as your people, your process, your vendors, better results.

Skip: Let’s talk a little about the technology. How can enhanced workflows change an organization?

Mike
: When it comes to custom print, every organization has some level of prescribed or required workflow in the lifecycle of a project. The stages typically begin with planning and then move to sourcing and production management before concluding with approvals and payment. When they’re planning they may be going to vendors for budget pricing. When they’re ready to buy, they may do so under a contract, through a competitive bid and award process or they may even hand it to their favorite vendor without competition. And once a job is in the hands of a vendor, someone has to monitor whether the project is being produced on time, at quality standards, and ultimately ensure that the vendor is paid the right price.

The steps that happen along the way usually involve a lot of people and there are often change orders after the project is in production. So there are a lot of moving parts. When you are in the spreadsheet and email world, you rely heavily on people’s gray matter to insure that details are cared for, that boxes are checked, and that things are done in accordance with policy. Technology can effectively deal with all this complexity and transform workflow. For example, our eLynxx software allows organizations to streamline complex workflows and dependencies in a way that creates full accountability, transparency, and record keeping without adding friction. This allows our clients to embrace the complexity and deal with the workflow in a way that assures compliance. When people are freed from chasing tactical details, they’re able to focus on strategic actions.

Skip: Two questions that are somewhat related. First, what impact is the cloud going to have on how we do business and second, how will the cloud affect communications management?

Mike: The cloud is having a bigger impact on business every day. One obvious attraction point is that organizations don’t have the traditional investment in infrastructure and support costs. One common concern is that their information is being stored somewhere outside of their own four walls, so to speak. But we see a growing number of organizations, even ones who not long ago were averse, coming to embrace cloud-based solutions.

From an operations standpoint, I think the fundamental opportunity with the cloud is that it provides a means to access information, execute actions, and collaborate from anywhere, at any time. With our software, for example, all you need are internet access and credentials to login. This means people are no longer tethered to their desks or phones. The ability to see and do things from anywhere at any time makes people more productive.

Skip: Do you believe that more companies will be looking toward the software-as-a-service model?

Mike
: Absolutely. I think that not only will more companies look toward it, but those companies who are already using it will look to do more things with it. I foresee a day, not too far out, where the majority of activities are happening through cloud software.

Skip
: Compliance is a major issue for organizations. What challenges do organizations face and how have you been able to help them?

Mike
: In print procurement, the biggest challenge I see with verifying compliance is that it’s usually done on a spot-check basis. If an organization wants to pressure test whether they’re meeting compliance objectives, they have to pick random samples of jobs. The next step involves grabbing data in many forms from a lot of disparate systems. This often includes auditing email trails and may even require doing interviews to document recollection of phone conversations. So when compliance is monitored through a manual, spot-check process it’s time consuming and by definition incomplete.

What we have done with eLynxx software is insure that all jobs are managed through the same system allowing all activities, communications, and approvals to be indelibly captured in one place. Whether metrics or actions are based on time, quality or cost, our clients always have an up to date single repository. This not only affords uniform compliance monitoring, but it also means you can proactively see when a job is about to go out of compliance. It’s a very powerful business tool.

Skip: What is the importance of balancing compliance with operation efficiency?

Mike
: Getting back to my example of a more manually driven environment, if you want 100% compliance, the only way you get to that is by sampling 100% of the jobs. That means you have to add more personnel in the form of analysts and auditors. All that adds excessive administrative cost to the point where you can’t afford to get to 100% compliance. Compare that with using a purpose-built platform that automatically monitors and measures compliance as work is being done, not as a separate effort after the fact. Not only can balance be achieved, the return almost always exceeds the investment.

Skip: If I am looking for software, should I build it, buy it or both? What are the pluses and minuses?

Mike: I meet many organizations that have progressed beyond using spreadsheets to procure and manage custom print projects, often by creating an in-house system. The thing they have in common is they believe that if they build something they will get exactly what they want but not have to pay for things they don’t want or don’t need.

Now, if you’ve ever been involved in one of these projects, and I have, what you find more often than not is that, they take longer than anticipated to build, they end up costing more than expected, and you never end up with everything you’d hoped for. There’s also a requirement for operational people to be heavily involved in the design and acceptance testing which detracts from their ability to do their core jobs. So organizations typically end up dealing with trade-offs anyway, so what they get in the end is something that is less than 100% of what they wanted.

Assuming you get all this right in the first place, more unforeseen issues loom on the horizon. If they haven’t made a commitment to continually support and upgrade the software to meet their changing business needs then it will start to fall out of phase with requirements on day two. I have met organizations that are working with 10 year old home-grown systems and tell me that because it was never updated they’ve had to create numerous manual workarounds. It’s a back to the future scenario.
I think the advantage of buying it is that you are typically dealing first of all with software that was purpose-built for solving the common problems of many organizations. This brings broader perspective. And because the software is the core business of the provider, they are always looking to innovate and keep pace with changing market demands. Access to these upgrades typically comes at little to no cost to individual clients because the burden is shared across the provider’s entire client set. In the case of eLynxx software, for example, upgrades are included in the subscription price so our clients are always using current software.

The benefit in this regard, with eLynxx in particular, is that our software is designed to be tailored to fit each client’s specific business. By that I mean clients don’t have to change the way they do business to fit our software. Instead, our software is configured to fit the way they do business. That’s one of the many things that make eLynxx software unique in the marketplace.

Skip: Mike, thanks for taking the time to speak with me and share some additional thoughts and insights. Anyone wanting to learn more about eLynxx can go to their website at www.elynxx.com or can reach Mike at michael.jackson@elynxx.com.