HVTO + 2007 = The Year in Review

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OutputLinks and today's most distinguished industry leaders sum up 2007's biggest trends in high volume transaction output (HVTO). Part one of the series addresses transpromo, mailing issues and increased recognition for HVTO.

By Aaron Kiel If you love being a part of the high volume transaction output (HVTO) industry, then you probably loved 2007. From the rise of transpromo documents to the many new opportunities in mailing, the Year of the Pig was significant and noteworthy for output professionals.

To summarize, OutputLinks asked a panel of industry leaders to review the trends, issues and technologies that were the most important in `07. Here's what our experts had to say. It all adds up---2007's biggest trend is transpromo

For Clare Woodman, president and COO of Megaspirea, the most significant industry movement of 2007 was clear. "I would say that the biggest trend of the year was transpromo," she says. "Over the years there have been many names for what it is, but the industry coalesced around this particular term at this particular time. It now appears that the term is here to stay and that organizations are taking the necessary steps to implement a transpromo strategy."Jeffrey DeVoyd, vice president, technology and product marketing, GMC Software Technology, agrees. "In 2007, color transpromo became a reality as financial institutions and insurance companies realized the benefits of the color transpromo statement, including acquiring and retaining high-value customers, generating measurable and repeatable results, as well as maximizing customer value."

As a strategic business application, transpromo's reach stretches far across the globe. For example, Oniya Shapira, a GMC customer in Israel, prints 8 million transpromo statements per month for just for one of their credit card clients, Cal (Israel Credit Cards Ltd). "These statements fully exploit the application, including personalized marketing messages, high impact color graphics as well as co-op advertising from their business partners," says GMC's DeVoyd. "The statements are printed on HP Indigo digital color presses and the final color statements are stunning." For Oniya Shapria, the results of implementing transpromo in 2007 are improved client satisfaction and retention rates, measurably higher return for offers printed on the statement itself, plus the ability to expand to new market and application areas. Clearly, transpromo in both the high and mid-volume ranges was big in 2007, and it's here to stay in 2008 and beyond. According to Senior Product Manager Maria Wooldridge, RISO Inc., the blending of transactional documents with promotional messaging was the year's application. "Many of the major shows had themes or undercurrents of transactional/promotional printing, including ON DEMAND, Graph Expo, InfoTrends' Transpromo Summit and the Gartner Print & Imaging Summit, bringing a lot of attention to this area beyond just those in the HVTO marketplace."Eastman Kodak Company's Pat McGrew, EDP, data center and transaction segment evangelist, also attended many of 2007's educational conferences, spreading the good news about transpromo. "The emergence into the mainstream of the transpromo story, enabled by full color, appropriately priced inkjet solutions, is the top story in HVTO," says McGrew. "The first Transpromo Summit demonstrated the importance of the story by attracting a large crowd to a conference in New York City in August. The co-owner of the most significant banner is clearly inkjet technology in the HVTO space as 2007 saw the demand for Inkjet so strong that just about every major player brought inkjet solutions to market. These, together, are most significant since they are the key drivers for continuing investments in HVTO hardware and applications." Indeed, transpromo takes the stage as the No. 1 topic in the world of HVTO. Certainly, OutputLinks published an enormous amount of content focused on the subject, and transpromo related queries on OutputLinksSearch increased steadily through the year. "The transpromo evolution is what I would consider the most significant 2007 trend because it transformed HVTO from an operations-based cost reduction mentality to a management-based business enhancement investment," explains OutputLinks' Julie Plata, who suggests that HVTO professionals search the hot topic at the OutputLinksSearch. "Transpromo will open the door for corporations to increase their investments in upscale output solutions that can help customers buy more and pay faster via the trusted transaction document arriving in the mail."Postal issues help the bottom-line in '07

Marv Isles, CEO, B”we Bell + Howell, believes the most significant HVTO issue in 2007 was the opportunities created by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) and Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB). Under this, he says, mailers leveraged technology to improve operations, generate savings, and create new value-added services. "USPS is reshaping the mail flow through incentives and penalties," says Isles. "Shape-based pricing, for example, charges more for flats than folded letters. Mailers can reduce postage by up to 39 cents per piece by folding the contents of a First-Class large envelope and mailing it in a letter-sized envelope."In 2007 --- with more stringent requirements and more frequent audits --- improving data quality was imperative, according to Isles. "CASS-related discounts are only available when the first line of an address can be confirmed via the USPS Delivery Point Validation (DPV) process," says Isles. "An estimated two percent of the addresses from a mailing list could lose their automation discount, greatly increasing the cost to mailers. USPS' Merlin has been updated to incorporate DPV."Isles adds, "Everyone in the mailing industry needs a healthy USPS. While we can expect ongoing uncertainty, the overall direction is clear. The mail stream is becoming more connected and the quality requirements are increasing. Those in the industry who can take advantage of these trends will benefit."

Sought-after mailing expert and OutputLinks columnist Mary Ann Bennett, president and CEO of The Bennett Group, Inc., also knows a lot about the mailing business. In fact, she says that the landscape of our mail and print industry was dramatically altered with the United States Postal Service 2007 rate case. "Every day that passes shows more and more mailers are finding creative ways to re-design their mail pieces and reduce their postage expenses," says Bennett.

As a mailing educator, Bennett advises HVTO pros to take a quick look in their mailbox. She says you'll easily see that the majority of your mail has the shape of a USPS letter. "Current observations are that even the most unsophisticated mailers are indeed embracing direct mail and the postage incentives the U.S. Postal Service implemented back in May of 2007. The new designs --- or re-designs --- are spectacular in some cases and very simple in others, but the bottom-line remains the same for everyone: They found a way to save money in `07."Pitney Bowes' Patrick Brand, president, Document Factory Solutions, says that while the USPS made significant changes in '07, the industry met the task of responding to shape-based pricing and new addressing standards such as DPV and LACSLink."Fortunately, new customer-focused technologies simplified this transition in 2007," Brand says. "The High Productivity Inputs developed by Pitney Bowes helped mailers actually save money by cost-effectively converting flats to letter-size mail, while upgrades to the Olympus Sorting Systems helped ensure compliance with challenging address requirements."Brand adds, "Pitney Bowes solutions, including the APS Edge, raised the bar on performance, and mailers were able to answer the call for integrity while enhancing efficiency and productivity. Externally, these high-integrity capabilities led to new value-based applications, including transpromo and voting by mail. The Relia-Vote Mail Balloting System, for example, now provides state and local governments with a comprehensive way to meet the market's demand for more secure, accessible absentee voting."Mark Maragni, vice president, sales, Compart North America Inc., states that overall, the postal rate case change in 2007 had a major effect on first class and flat mailing, but there were other trends which demanded attention. "We also saw the HVTO community begin embracing a wide spectrum of production, digital color printing, from high quality output to the concept of `good enough color'," says Maragni. "These two events --- transpromo and the postal rate case change --- lead to a third event: more complex workflows, enabling increased postal and workflow efficiency. Or, more simply put, driving cost out of production by managing the totality of the output."

Wall Street recognition amounts to increased HVTO visibility

According to Andy Plata, president and CEO of OutputLinks, 2007 was the year that Wall Street finally understood that the critical nature of transaction output represents a very strong investment-return opportunity in serving the HVTO industry. "This is evidenced by the growing number of acquisitions in the HVTO vendor community by private and traditional investment firms," says Plata. "This new investment activity will result in more powerful technology that will propel the HVTO community to increased productivity and capability."Along with transaction output gaining more visibility in 2007, a company's various departments are joining forces like never before, collaborating to benefit marketing, businesses processes, strategic objectives and return-on-investment.And with HVTO gaining more recognition, Adobe's Christy Hubbard, senior product manager, LiveCycle Enterprise Suite, Adobe Systems Inc., says this resulted in an increased focus on the customer experience across multiple channels of document output. "HVTO customers are re-thinking their DOM strategies and increasing collaboration with business units and IT managers across their organizations," says Hubbard. "Increasingly, organizations are looking to adopt new DOM standards that extend beyond structured high-volume output such as statements and invoices, to embrace on-demand and interactive applications that optimize the mix of electronic and print delivery options."

2007 sees greater productivity, flexibility, opportunity