Category: Customer Communications

Hunkeler Innovationdays: An Outlook from a CCM Perspective

David Stabel
Feb 11, 2019

In a few week’s time, on February 25-28, Hunkeler is opening its doors again for the high-volume printing and paper processing industry at the 13th Hunkeler Innovationdays in Lucerne, Switzerland. This year shows an increase in number of exhibitors from around 90 in 2017. This year about 100 exhibitors are staging demonstrations of 40 practical solutions over two halls at the Lucerne Trade Fairgrounds.

Hunkeler Innovationdays

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More Consolidation as Fiserv Acquires First Data

Pat McGrew and David Stabel
Jan 18, 2019

Billing and statement processing outsourcers with payment capabilities are continuing to consolidate in an attempt to dominate both the global payment and FinTech markets. On January 14th, 2019, Fiserv and First Data announced that they plan to consolidate their complementary technologies through a $22 billion deal that unites their strong merchant payment platforms, digital banking/billing solutions, and risk management options. Once the acquisition is complete (planned for 2H2019), Fiserv intends to refinance approximately $17 billion in First Data debt and to operate the combined business under the Fiserv name.

Fiserv and First Data

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Cybersecurity: Understanding the Inside Threat

Colin McMahon
Jan 7, 2019

When stories of cyberattacks reach the media, the culprit is often an outside source. Whether it is a foreign government or malicious hacker, organizations are conditioned to seek external threats to data security. This approach, however, misses a common cause of cyberattacks and data breaches—a company’s own employees.

Research has shown that more than half of all businesses are either at risk or have been attacked from the inside. To move forward with a fully developed data protection strategy, PSPs must be cognizant of inside attacks and minimize their risk.

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Pricing for Digital: Establishing Consistency Across Message and Media

Will Morgan
Dec 7, 2018

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled, Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends conducted over a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the greatest pricing obstacles they face in today’s changing market.

The first segment of this three-part examination of our findings examined the ramifications of procurement’s growing power over transactional customer communications strategy at the expense of business leadership. The second considered some of the difficulties print providers face when working to demonstrate value through services. This final installment explores the challenges that providers face in developing and marketing pricing plans that encompass composition and delivery of transactional and marketing messages to various print and electronic channels.

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Why Phishing is Still a Dangerous Form of Cyberattack

Colin McMahon
Nov 20, 2018

Stories about data breaches leaking personal data and damaging company profitability continue to make headlines. Much of the focus in these pieces includes the sophisticated forms of cyberattacks that are involved. For example, the WannaCry attack of 2017 was accomplished with a ransomware worm while the infamous Equifax breach reportedly came from software exploitation.

Incidents like these highlight just how threatening sophisticated forms of cyberattacks can be in the professional space. At the same time, however, focusing solely on software updates and worm virus protection is not enough to keep a company safe from a data breach. According to cybersecurity firm Wombat Security, 76% of companies have reportedly been victims of phishing attacks within the past year.

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Which industries Need the Most GDPR education?

Colin McMahon
Nov 13, 2018

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is not new. In development for over four years, the laws associated with this act recently went into effect in May 2018. Designed for the EU, the GDPR is focused on the issue of consumer privacy in the digital age. Specifically, it holds organizations that collect consumer data more accountable for said information, and gives the consumer more power in determining exactly which data is collected. Obtaining informed consent is also a priority.

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Highlights from DSF18: The DOCUMENT Strategy Forum

David Stabel and Eve Padula
Jun 12, 2018

Celebrating its 10th year, the 2018 DOCUMENT Strategy Forum (DSF18) was held last month (May 21 – 23) in downtown Boston, MA. This peer-driven, peer-reviewed, and peer-produced conference is designed to educate professionals on how to deliver and manage customer communications, customer engagement, and information management. As was the case in previous years, the 2018 event offered a wide array of educational sessions, executive round tables, panels, and inspiring keynotes. Visitors had plenty of opportunities to network with industry peers or any of the 44 exhibitors in attendance.

This year’s opening keynote speech was given by Ian Khan, a world-renowned speaker and author. During his keynote entitled “Tomorrow 4.0: Are You Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?”, he asserted that man and machine are coming together in new and unprecedented ways in today’s era of digital disruption.

Industrial revolutions are momentous events, and many experts believe that only a few have occurred to date. The first was triggered in the 1700s by the commercial steam engine and the mechanical loom. The second took place prior to World War I with the harnessing of electricity and mass production. The third occurred when technology shifted from analog electronic and mechanical devices to digital technologies and computers. A number of industry strategists now believe that we have entered the fourth revolution, which builds on the third revolution. It is driven by interconnected digital technologies and has been marked by technological breakthroughs in a number of fields.

During his keynote speech, Khan hinted that we might actually be on the cusp of a fifth Industrial Revolution, which is all about Artificial Intelligence (AI). He believes that many of today’s emerging technologies will impact industries more profoundly in the very near future than they have in the past 500 years.

Timur Kalimov, Vice President of Products and Services at HyperScience, expanded on Khan’s keynote by talking about the claims that vendors make about AI. When it comes to Artificial Intelligence, Kalimov suggests being skeptical of vendors that fall into the following categories:

  • “Singularity” vendors basically claim that their AI solutions can handle everything in terms of performing machine learning. For machine learning to work well, though, the AI solution must develop a painstaking understanding of the specific business problems that the company is working to address. Unfortunately, none of today’s AI solutions have been able to master this capability.
  • “Trainer” vendors promise to deliver a working product after the business has provided its customer data. The challenge is that this data will not usually have been collected with machine learning in mind, and it will often be subject to strict security and privacy constraints. Furthermore, since machine learning is  uncertain by its very nature, it is impossible to know if a functional solution is even a reality at the outset.
  • “Perfectionist” vendors promise 100% automation with no human involvement. The issue with this approach is that neither people nor machines are perfect. The reality is that machines will need human supervision when real-world problems arise.

Another concept that was front and center during the sessions at DSF 18 was the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was officially implemented on May 25, 2018. The legislation is expected to influence the formation of data localization laws on a global basis, and it will likely have a major impact on where and how enterprises do business. During a Compliance Power Session during DSF 18, Lauren Barnes (S&P Global), Kurt Neumann (Prime Therapeutics), Tom Serven (State Street), and Lane Severson (Doculabs) spoke about how today’s businesses can prepare for regulations like GDPR. Although this is a European initiative, GDPR is expected to have wide-ranging implications for companies on a worldwide basis.

According to survey data on Marketing Communications from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends, only 41% of respondents in North America and 56% of those in Western Europe had already taken steps to prepare for GDPR. Most respondents were at least aware of the regulation, but the share of respondents who were unaware of it was considerably higher in North America than it was in Europe.

Another common theme that came up multiple times during the educational sessions at DSF 18 was the commoditization of the customer experience. Today’s businesses are strongly focused on delivering a better overall experience to increase customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty. In response to this, a number of vendors are developing solutions that are designed to improve specific parts of the overall customer experience.

Alan Pelz-Sharpe of DEEP ANALYSIS presented a session on the impact of blockchain during the PFMA Annual Conference, which was co-located with DSF 18. Pelz-Sharpe believes that blockchain—a shared digital ledger for recording the history of transactions—will be the biggest disruptor of business information management in decades.

Blockchain is distributed across a network, so the entire ledger is stored multiple times in various locations. Every computer that is part of the blockchain network will contain a complete copy of the entire ledger. This method of storage is absolutely secure because the ledger in the blockchain is immutable and cannot be changed. This makes it ideal for documenting contracts, legal documents, and other critical documentation along a variety of supply chains.

The 10th annual DOCUMENT Strategy Forum placed a strong focus on transforming processes, the changing regulatory landscape, and disruptive technologies. Artificial Intelligence, regulations like GDPR, the customer experience, and blockchain will continue to shape and reshape our industry. Industry players must keep pace with and react to these new and emerging trends, and educational events like DSF are a great way for service providers and vendors to ensure that they can do just that!

DirectMail2.0 Launches Their Inaugural Market-Edge Event

Pat Nolan
Nov 6, 2017

Market-Edge 2017: Direct Mail, Digital, and Beyond

From October 26th to October 27th of this year, DirectMail2.0 hosted their inaugural Market-Edge conference at Wyndham Grand Clearwater in Clearwater Beach, Florida. Sponsors included Pitney Bowes, Konica Minolta, AccurioJet, Alesco Data, and Enthusem. Discussing Market-Edge with DirectMail2.0’s Marketing Coordinator, Iris Shalev, I was able to shed some light on why they wanted to put on a conference and what they hoped that their business and attendees would take away from it.

The purpose of the event, she said, was to act as a hub for direct mail marketers and printers that is more personal than a trade show and to provide a face-to-face networking opportunity for attendees outside of the usual competitive context. DirectMail2.0 wanted to strengthen this community with Market-Edge, and bring stakeholders with different expertise together to learn from each other for a 360-degree experience, Shalev continued.

In his opening remarks, DirectMail2.0 CEO Brad Kugler also touched on his company’s intended outcome of the event. They wanted to host an open forum for printers and direct mail marketers to come together and solve their common problems. What is the root of those problems? The answer is represented both by what DirectMail2.0 does as a business – they are an integration platform that offers online services to printers and direct mail marketers – and by the theme of Market-Edge: to bridge the gap between offline and online, to bring print into the digital world.

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DMA &THEN 2017 Conference Recap

Pat Nolan
Oct 31, 2017

The DMA Celebrates 100 Years at &THEN 2017, Looks Ahead

The DMA reached an impressive milestone in 2017, hitting its 100-year anniversary as an organization. While this was cause for celebration at this year’s &THEN conference in New Orleans, much more time was spent looking ahead than reflecting on the last century. This comes on the heels of the DMA’s name change earlier this year, from Direct Marketing Association to Data & Marketing Association. In his opening remarks for the three-day conference, DMA CEO Tom Benton attributes this change to the modern role of data as the lifeblood of all marketing. It powers and improves all marketing activities and enables 1:1 at scale, he notes.

 “This year, more than ever before, it was evident that the strength of the Data & Marketing Association and &THEN lies with our members, speakers, guests and partners. We were pleasantly surprised at the sizeable turnout, and initial feedback confirms that the content provided at &THEN ranks alongside the finest data and marketing thought leadership events in our association’s 100-year history. We’ve already begun planning for &THEN 2018 and will be delivering more of this data and marketing expertise next year, October 8th through 10th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.”

Tom Benton, CEO of DMA

Along with data, cognitive computing was another recurring talking point woven throughout the conference’s buffet of speakers and presentations from notables on all sides of the industry – agencies and publishers, technology vendors and service providers, and executives from some of the world’s biggest brands and marketers. Yet at this year’s &THEN, it felt as though “Big Data” and “artificial intelligence” transitioned from buzzwords to not only serious competitive considerations, but necessities of the marketing toolbox.

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Quadient: A New Ecosystem for Customer Experience

David Stabel and Pat McGrew
Sep 12, 2017

Today, Neopost announced the introduction of a newly created business division: Quadient, replacing its Enterprise Digital Solutions (EDS) business division. With Quadient, Neopost combines three companies that operated independently under EDS into a new division focused on digital communications and customer experience solutions:

  • Satori Software. Acquired in 2009 and a provider of mailing and data quality solutions. Satori software allows mail senders to validate addresses, correct them, update them in real time and remove duplicates.
  • GMC Software. Acquired in 2012. Today, GMC Software is considered a leader and innovator in the customer communications management (CCM) solutions space.
  • Human Inference. A data quality solution provider focused on master data quality improvement. Neopost acquired this Dutch based company in 2012.
The New Quadient Logo

The New Quadient Logo

These past acquisitions fitted into a bigger strategy. To leverage the power of that strategy, it makes sense to reorganizing into Quadient. By doing so, Neopost is repositioned to focus on offering enterprise solutions for customer experience management (including CCM), mobile application development/digital experiences, and data management. The logic is simple: as customer experience becomes a strategic component for businesses, businesses need ways to quickly implement and personalized these experiences along the customer journey. Tools for managing this process as well as the data (quality) required for personalization are key.

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