February 20, 2013

Enterprise Output Management (EOM) – What Does It All Mean?

Enterprise Output Management, or EOM, is one of those ‘work phrases’ we tend to use on a daily basis.Do you use a lot of jargon in your line of work? Does this situation sound familiar:

“The other day I was trying to explain to someone what I do, but I had to keep stopping to explain the terms and acronyms. By the time I explained what I did, it was about as clear as mud.”

Yes, we have all been there, especially in an industry that is high-tech or has a lot of complex moving parts. The industry-speak or jargon that we use is a double-edged sword, especially in today’s connected and collaborative working environments. The result is that there are people tasked with figuring out challenges in business environments such as workflow management, operations management, customer satisfaction and cost reduction that may not have the background or expertise in the solutions they are looking for. What do you do? Google it perhaps? Maybe… but you really need a better explanation than those that are available on Wikipedia.

In the case of Crawford Technologies, we have been working in what many call the Enterprise Output Management (EOM) industry since 1995. In the early years of the company we sold print-stream transforms; the ability to convert documents from one print file format to another. This was our main offering and was sold in business-to-business (B2B) environments and through partnership agreements. The main person we seek to help in the document handling process is the person in charge of transaction document output or an output manager; most of the time referred to by job title as an Operations Manager.

Moving back to the data at hand; these disparate print file types were created among the evolution of digital printing that started with digital printer hardware like the IBM 3800 in the late ‘70s. The print languages that were relevant both then and now include AFP, PostScript, PCL, Xerox Metacode, Line Data and PDF. Many of you may know a few of those, especially PDF.AFP or Advance Function Presentation (originally developed by IBM and now open source) is one of the most common forms of transactional print data running through high-speed digital print engines—those printers that print several hundred feet a minute and take information from a computer; not via plates or the traditional offset print process.

See, we have already started to use that industry jargon. Basically, what you need to know is that these different files types (AFP, PS, PCL, Metacode and PDF) and the process of moving them and their information from a system of record (a banking system, insurance system etc.) to the end-customer is consider a print operation workflow. The information that is being moved from these systems to a printer and then through mailing operations for transportation and delivery to the end-customer consists of credit card bills, account summaries, insurance documentation, investment prospectus, healthcare documents—anything that has to be sent by the provider, generally on a regular cycle, to hundreds of thousands of recipients. You can see the need for an output manager and automation tools to make the process more efficient.

This entire process of creating electronic document output, moving them to a print operation for print production, preparation for mailing and then out to the mailing distribution and delivery channel is considered Enterprise Output Management or EOM. At least, it is in the print industry. We think it is a great way to explain what we do. The level of the volume and business, or the ‘Enterprise’, and the process of creating output and managing it through to delivery start to make sense with the acronym EOM.

So that is what is meant by EOM, but what do we mean by transactional documents? Stay tuned for our next blog in the series, ‘The Transaction Document: What is it and why is it important?’Have comments? Leave us one below; we love a good conversation!