The output management world is in a state of change. Electronic channels are fast overtaking the formerly dominant forms of customer communication, in particular postal mail and email. The new mobile systems are becoming more important for business communication. Output managers are thus facing major challenges. That was one of the key takeaways from this year's Comparting, held November 17–18.
Comparting, now in its seventh year, saw record attendance levels. Nearly 300 attendees from eleven countries joined Compart at the Congress Center near Compart’s international headquarters in Böblingen, Germany.
This year's Comparting program included 14 presentations that were simultaneously translated into German and English. In addition to the general sessions, there were multiple simultaneous tracks that dealt with the latest developments in the PDF universe with its many specifications such as PDF/VT and PDF/UA as well as document production using XML and XSL-FO. In addition, there were panel discussions on new trends in digital color printing, and exhibits by Compart partners Deutsche Post, Océ, Kodak, Kendox and Intarsys.
Among the highlights were the presentations by the financial companies LVM and the Versicherungskammer Bayern. Both companies detailed how they implemented Compart solutions and are realizing tremendous savings. AXA Technology Services, the internal IT services provider of one of the world's largest insurance companies, shared how they successfully implemented a multi-communication channel concept in a large company. AXA Technology Services reported how they not only substantially improved paper communication, but also made cross- and up-selling transaction documents possible. Overall, the company concentrated on integrating all the communication channels in document and output management in order to generate content that could be enhanced independently of context.
A key opportunity Comparting provides is that of networking with peers and managers in similar industries. During the breaks, and especially during the exclusive evening event, Compart made sure the breakout areas were designed to enable this kind of information sharing.
Harald Grumser: Comments from the CEO
Harald Grumser, Compart’s CEO, had the opportunity to speak about the need to separate content from the form of display, as well as the difference between object mark-up and formatting for the diversity of presentation media. Although mail volumes are still substantial, enveloped document volumes are be expected to continue their significant drop. In particular, transactional mail like invoices, notices, dunning letters and account statements are expected to decrease. In view of the dramatic changes in customer communications, companies involved in output management face a number of challenges. Recognizing that the traditional output management workflow – compose, optimize and print – will not be enough in future, Grumser offered these concrete recommendations:
- Build bridges between old applications and delivery
- Link multiple input channels with multiple output channels
- Be prepared for new channels
Grumser also briefly spoke about current trends and developments at the company and ventured several predictions for the coming year, among them:
- Rental software will grow
- Pay-per-use demand will drop
- Share of toolkits will rise
- Implementation projects will get bigger
- Proportion of Linux installations will grow
- Demand for host version will fall
- For the first time, PDF surpassed AFP as the output management data format
As a result, Grumser shared that the company would be concentrating more on electronic channels, offering more flexible pricing models and expanding professional services.
Out of the Laboratory
One of the most popular presentations shared what is new in development. Chief Development Officer Jörg Palmer moderated a developer team presentation on the new releases of DocBridge Pilot 2.13 and DocBridge FileCab 1.1. The new Workbench for Mill tool for graphic-supported configuration of filter profiles also met with great interest.
Comparting 2011The two-day workshop finished up with a topic that goes well beyond the bounds of the industry: the creation of barrier-free documents. Considering the German government's plan to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the discussion focused on the need to create media completely accessible to all, regardless of disability. This would affect the structure and format of documents so that they could be correctly reproduced both syntactically and logically, whether in Braille or as an audio file or screen reader.