March 3, 2017

The Convergence of ADF & Digital Mailbox Services

The first half of 2012 has seen an explosion in the discussion of digital mail solutions and how they should integrate into the current state of the print and mail industry. This conversation is happening both from a North American and Worldwide perspective with a significant part of the conversation turning to Digital Mailbox Services … Continue reading “The Convergence of ADF & Digital Mailbox Services”

The first half of 2012 has seen an explosion in the discussion of digital mail solutions and how they should integrate into the current state of the print and mail industry. This conversation is happening both from a North American and Worldwide perspective with a significant part of the conversation turning to Digital Mailbox Services providers like doxo, Manilla, Volly and Zumbox.

The premise is exciting to most individuals in the print and mail space as it signals the future of customer communication delivery methods and the tools required to make it happen.

Part way through the ‘90s The Gartner Group researched and coined a new term that would align and revolutionize how print and mail providers would approach their workflow environment. The Automated Document Factory, known by its acronym ADF, evaluated all the pain points of print and mail workflows and sought to define how to automate processes for better tracking, reporting and efficiency, both from an employee and hardware perspective.

The ultimate goal was to put a system in place that would manage the workflow process from composition to delivery and then report back into the organization to meet compliance and internal Service-Level Agreements.

The original ADF solutions were not trivial and normally required significant investment, implementation time and problem solving to make the automation goals a reality. ADF solutions, like our own PRO Production Manager (PPM), have come a long way. Now solutions providers such as Crawford Technologies can deliver solutions that are faster to implement, provide more detailed tracking, document re-engineering and Transpromo all while requiring significantly less investment than the solutions of the ‘90s. PRO Production Manager can monitor your entire operation from data creation all the way through to the post office to the recipient.

Now almost two decades later an ADF is still an important part of any print and mail operation; however, it is not without change. With the introduction of Digital Mailbox Services (DMS), the ADF is going to play a critical role in making sure a print and mail provider can deliver customer communications in the right format, at the right time and to the right place; all while honoring customer delivery preferences and tracking delivery to the customer.

Additionally, companies and service providers will have to evaluate all of the business considerations prior to implementing a DMS solution. These considerations range from general implementation questions to legal, operations, technology and marketing. Moreover, the ADF will have to interface with the DMS provider in order to deliver the communications into the channel.

What about Customer Preference Management? If you aren't sure what we mean by that, let us explain. Currently in the U.S. there are three active DMS providers and more coming to market very soon. The competition in this market means that there will be early adopters, those that switch to other services and those that will dabble with both print and electronic until they are comfortable. Some customers may start at one DMS provider and then decide to move to another. Others will opt-in to a DMS solution, but choose to keep their paper statement as well as getting the digital delivery by their DMS provider. From a print and mail provider perspective, these customer preferences will not only have to be managed, but they need to be fully integrated into the document delivery workflow to send documents to the recipients on an individualized basis..

These challenges require the management of the customer preferences and are greatly helped by an ADF that will allow for automated and efficient handling of the workflow process. How do you manage the customer preference though? It sounds like a lot of R&D on your infrastructure and processes for your production workflows, right?

PRO Channel Manager from CrawfordTech addresses this need by using a single customer preference database while leveraging our partnerships with all of the major DMS providers in the market. This unique placement in the DMS market allows CrawfordTech to deliver the capability for a print and mailer to feed multiple DMS providers simultaneously to deliver the right customer communication, to the right destination, in the right format, with full tracking and with the cost savings that will drive an increase in your bottom line.
PRO Production Manager and PRO Channel Manager use the same database to simplify integration, increase efficiency, reduce redundancies and improve workflow.

The convergence of the ADF and Digital Mailbox Services finally creates a fully automated and multi-channel delivery approach for print and mail providers. When you add in the benefits of better customer service, increased efficiency, significant print/mail/postage savings providing a stronger return on investment and you will wonder why you waited until now to find out more about this growing segment of the print and mail market.