Trends in Output Management – Perspectives From Comparting 2015

David Stabel
Nov 4, 2015

The eleventh annual Comparting conference was held in Böblingen, Germany, near Stuttgart from October 15-16. The Comparting conference, organized by Compart each year, is a two-day international forum for Multi-channel Document and Output Management. This years’ focus was on how companies are dealing with customer communications that increasingly revolve around multi-channel-capable document processing.

About 375 people attended the event which is a slight increase compared to last year. With participants from 14 countries representing 37 nationalities, this years’ event had a stronger international character than ever before. In addition to keynote speeches and several presentations of customer cases, there were also special tracks focused on business and technology issues.

Away from Pages Towards Content

In his presentation, Harald Grumser, founder and CEO of Compart, talked about the limitations of customer communications when these communications are linked to a specific format (e.g., a letter page). In many organizations, a letter or A4 page is still the standard form for communications. But form does not guarantee function across different output channels – a letter-sized PDF file is not easily read on a smartphone screen. The key to overcome this challenge is to start focusing on the content instead of the form, according to Harald.

Early or Late-composing?

Separating content and form has other advantages, such as performing content composition at a late stage in the production chain. Jörg Palmer , VP Product Management and Support at Compart, explained that composing is increasingly done within output management (late-composing) instead at the application level (early-composing) for these reasons. Advantages of a late-composing strategy include more flexibility in creative and design activities along with automated composition which can then be centralized with the output management. However, as output management is typically the last step in the production chain, content authoring and versioning can be challenging.

Becoming Part of a Business Process

Customer communications increasingly link to business processes. Consequently, investments in customer communications technology is increasingly driven by those business process(es). At the same time businesses are looking for more integration and flexibility of customer communications technology which typically has to span multiple IT systems. Output management solutions can play an important role here as customer communications are channeled through it before being delivered. However, this may not be possible for those companies that are building parallel worlds as Harald Grumser explained. One world is focusing on existing print communications technology while the other world is focusing on web content communications technology. Bringing these two worlds together is key for the future role of output management.

InfoTrends Opinion

To be successful in the multi-channel world of today, separating content and form is essential. One prerequisite for separating content and form is a centralization of your customer communications. This can be done either upstream at the application level where the content is generated or downstream in output management where all the generated content comes together. Although most participants at Comparting 2015 preferred the downstream approach, each approach has its pros and cons.

InfoTrends just published its latest forecast for Output Management- and Customer Communications Management (Source: Customer Engagement Technologies Market Sizing & Forecast 2014-2019, InfoTrends 2015). This forecast foresees healthy growth in the single-digit range for multi-channel output management technology. For more information please contact Jennifer Skerrett at jennifer.skerrett@infotrends.com.

The next Comparting conference will take place on November 17-18, 2016. We are already looking forward to it!

@davidstabel
Associate Director, Customer Engagement Technologies (CET) advisory service

 

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