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Not a cloud in the sky…

At Xploration™14 in March we had several sessions on the cloud. Fortunately I was able to attend a couple of them and came back with more questions than answers as to how vulnerable Xplor would be if the cloud suddenly disappeared.

My conclusion to my brief sixty second assessment, we would be in deep trouble depending on the length of the outage and the ability of our provider to get us back up. Xplor’s email system is in the cloud as well as our event registration, website and members hub, which is just about all of Xplor.  We backup our database but if the rest goes down it is still a really big  problem.

Wozniak Agrees?

In further researching I read an interesting article the other day by Steve Wozniak regarding the cloud that made me think. In the article he stated “The more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it. With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away.”  Read the article.

The term that really caught my attention was You already signed it away.”  Yes, that is what we often do when we check that terms and conditions box in addition to absolving the provider of most if not all liability.

The Need to Ask Questions

What if your cloud provider goes out of business, is a victim of hackers or cyber terrorists. What are their safeguards? How do you get back up and running?  How do you recover? What is their liability?

Xplor as an organization is going to be asking the three vendors that control our “clouds” these questions.

So how does your organization handle the cloud and the people you entrust with your information?

What if there was not a cloud in the sky? I am curious to hear your views.

 

 

Dear Occupant, We Are Raising The Bar!

If you are old enough to remember receiving direct mail addressed to “Dear Occupant,” you will certainly remember the astonishment and wonder when you received your first piece of “personalized mail” – Dear (insert your name here).
Over time the level of text personalization increased to include things like the company you worked for, the city you lived in, etc., and we all felt connected in some way. We were not just an “occupant” but an individual.

That was the late 80‘s, early 90’s if I recall correctly.

Today, receive a piece of personalized mail and you are typically less than impressed. In fact, you probably may even ignore it unless it is something out of the ordinary, like your name spelled in the sand on a beach, or in the clouds against a blue sky. There is still a WOW factor to the innovative use of personalization. However personalization and the WOW factor have to be relevant. A catchy piece, plus a good offer to the right person, equals a winner for the Brand.

In 1999 Harry Quadracci of Quad Graphics wrote, “We are in the Age of Advertising. Baby Boomers, now in their peak spending years, have a lot of buying power, and there’s going to be a lot of advertising to get that dollar. The best way to harness that buying power will be through properly promoting the brand… and the most effective media for brand promotion will continue to be ink on paper. It’s The Brand, Stupid, it’s The Brand!”

Mr.Quadracci was right in 1999 and remains so today, “it is the brand” and the decision makers of the brands who require results. Sending out 100,000 pieces of direct mail to “Dear (insert your name here), hoping 2-3% produce results is no longer what the brands are looking for or need. Sending out 50,000 innovative pieces, to the right people with the right offer drives double digit results. If you are a printer I am not saying you need to be a “marketeer” – but you do need to understand what your customers may ask you to print. (Everyone familiar with augmented reality?)

So as a printer, what is interactive print? (I personally believe it could be the Renaissance of direct mail) What do the brands need? How can you be part of the opportunity?

There is a great deal of opportunity for those who get it. To get it you need to reach out to different places and spheres of influences.

I invite you to add Xplor to your sphere of influences and join us for Xploration 14, March 25-27th in Orlando Florida.

Visit http://xplor.org/upcoming-events/2014-annual-conference

Using Their Data To Create Your Future, Now

He who controls the data wins ….

I started to look at content for the upcoming issue of E-Document News and I was not surprised that I ran across yet another article on the demise of the transactional document industry and the impact on print service providers.

I must admit I am a ½ glass full guy but many of these doomsday scenarios and the demise of whole industry or markets is a bit distressing to me as many times the industry or market does not go away, it just looks different.

Let me say this: If you are a print service provider, your best days could still be ahead …. It is up to you, not the post office. Let me share my thoughts.

Let’s make (5) assumptions:

  1. The amount of transactional data is not going down it is going up
  2. The need for that transactional data to be communicated/distributed  to customers will NEVER go away
  3. Volume for printed statements and bills will decrease over time (not tomorrow)
  4. Volume for delivery of electronic documents will increase
  5. Some applications being done on presses will migrate to digital, so digital print volume will increase

So given that today you process transactional data, print and mail bills and statements using digital print technology I would think:

  1. In the future you would have more data to process
  2. That data will have to be distributed
  3. Some information may need to be mailed, sent via email, text  or sent via mobile
  4. There will be more digital print volume as print quality and costs improve
  5. There is HUGE opportunity in information and output (not just print)

So what do you need to do?

Think data and specifically think “who controls the data wins”. What print service providers need to be is the keeper of the data. They want to be the ones that process and format the data but also distribute it: print and mail, email, send SMS, text or support whatever new delivery phenomena comes in the future.

Print service providers should be educating themselves on these ancillary technologies and offering them as a service, one that can generate revenue.  If you just want to print and mail start figuring out your exit strategy. However if you want a bright future become a distributor of information.

Becoming an information distributor

  • Keep abreast of how people communicate
  • Get familiar with all the methods of output and the vendors who offer these products
  • Spend time keeping up to date on the latest digital print technology
  • Invest in yourself and company employees by attending industry events, webcasts, etc.
  • Remember “he who controls the data wins”

By the way, I told the folks at Rollsource that their future is bright also

P.S. –  Since this is my blog, I will shamelessly say you need to attend the upcoming Xplor Users Conference and Vendor Forum April 16-18 in St. Pete Beach Florida. In one place you can:

  • Hear the latest trends and best practices that are driving customer communications
  • Meet with the companies who have made this transition and who are happy to share
  • Spend time with the vendors who can provide the products to grow your business
  • Hear the latest trends presented by the Gartner Group, InfoTrends and Madison Advisors

Visit http://xplor.org/upcoming-events/annual-conference  to view a complete agenda and registration options. Or call 813-949-6170

For my blog readers, (PSP’s and end users) if you are interested in attending please email me at skip@xplor.org and I will send you a promotion code to save on registration. First (5) will save big.