Document Strategy Forum – 4 years old and getting bigger and better

By on November 8th, 2011

The Document Strategy Forum just celebrated its fourth birthday last week. This event is unique for its focus and its size. The focus on transactional documents brings together an audience with a common need: how to keep up with all the changes in regulation, technology, and customer demands surrounding transactional communication, which is at the center of every business’ interaction with its customers. The organizers stay tuned in to what is of interest to their audience, with an example being this year’s addition of both a track and an exhibit floor pavilion for SharePoint. The narrower scope and smaller venue, as compared to the mega-events such as Graph Expo or On Demand, leads to superior interaction opportunities for both attendees and the solution providers.

The focus and size in no way limit the value and learning opportunity provided. There are six tracks and over forty-five sessions dedicated to providing information and insight. The best part of the sessions provided is that they often lead to very interactive discussions amongst the speaker and the attendees, leading to a sharing of perspectives across different functions and industries. I attended a session on Managed Print Services where I was reminded that when speaking about anything with documents, it is a good idea to set the stage by explaining whether you are referring to internal business documents, business-to-business documents, or business-to-customer documents.

The opening keynote presentation by Forrester Research, “The State of the Document Processing Services Industry 2011”, provided great background and thought provoking information for the rest of the conference. The presentation states it is time to change our process approach. We think we’ve got it all under control and we do to a certain point, but firms still struggle to manage untamed business processes: customer onboarding, claims processing and invoicing process. “1998 – 2009 marks a lost decade consumed with packaged apps and leaving enterprises stuck in cement, unable to rapidly change, compete and innovate. 48% will invest in collaborative technology to improve app performance.

Another part of the Forrester presentation described Customer Communication categories and primary applications. They defined the categories as: structured, interactive and on-demand. Key industry concerns include: enterprises trying to get rid of a big headache – aging structured output systems, the ability to quickly comply with new regulations; rapid movement to on-demand and interactive transactions and archaic fulfillment process.

Another unique take away I got from this year’s event was to remember that when talking about “multi-channel”, (and who isn’t?), we need to not only think about the broad variety of output channels with print, email, web-hosted, social media, mobile, etc., but we also need to focus on the breadth of the input information channels from multiple administrative, transactional, marketing, and yes, even customer response sources. As a process-focused individual, this suddenly seemed obvious; you need to look at the inputs, tasks, and outputs in any process to be effective, I do not think I have experienced any other time which highlighted the input side.

I believe that the focus provides superior interaction and networking opportunities. The attendees are mostly high level individuals with 45% of them holding C-level or Director/Department Head Positions. 28% of the companies represented generate 3+ million outbound transactional documents per month (and 13% of those are generating 10+ million per month). I personally have met and established ongoing relationships with many key contacts through participating over the past four years.

This event may be one of the best kept secrets in the industry, and I am looking forward to what the show organizers will do to keep improving for their 5th anniversary event in 2012.

For more information on transactional document solutions, visit Océ Production Printing – Transactional Resources.

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    One Response to “Document Strategy Forum – 4 years old and getting bigger and better”

    1. Kent Cowles Says:

      The transactional market as you point out is undergoing unprecedented change, with challenges presented at each point in the multiple processes required to efficiently and effectively deliver critical client communications.

      Much of the industry is focused on operational efficiency and cost savings, no doubt an extremely important focus. However, just as important is how do organizations create a sustainable communication strategy, leveraging transaction documents as a important channel. Do most organizations have a cohesive strategy? Does the strategy leverage the wealth of data that most organizations have and use that data to execute against the strategy?

      It would be interesting to have more conversation around how organizations are identifying, analyzing and solutioning a communications strategy which leverages their data sources.