Like many sectors, the variable communications industry has seen dramatic changes in 2020. The initial reaction to that statement may be that these changes must all be negative. That may be the case for traditional print-to-mail organizations but for progressive companies 2020 has essentially accelerated the speed of change.
During my 20+ years in this industry I have seen how change has been driven by 2 key forces; changing customer preference and, new technology that reduces commodity costs at the vendor and consumer levels. Add a pandemic to this mix and things happen quickly!
Without question the #1 evolutionary change at the customer level is the desire for personalized content in whatever format / media they prefer. Companies providing these services must have the ability to render highly powerful variable output in multiple output streams all from the same data set and with one composition engine specifically tailored for the clients. The days of selling commodity services for printing and inserting pages of paper are gone. There’s no question that generational transition in the workforce has also helped to drive these changes. I think we all know that millennials and Gen Y’s often prefer receiving their utility bills, bank statements and other personalized content on their phones versus opening an envelope. This transition has been steadily underway for the past several years but the current business environment has accelerated the transition. Many companies are experiencing revenue compression and are highly motived to reduce their content delivery costs. So, this is a case where the want, nicely matches the need from both viewpoints. This is a key reason why companies like Gilmore Doculink are in such a growth mode; we step in and service both desired outcomes. Traditional suppliers simply can’t pivot fast enough to competently provide this full range of services. Again, drastic changes can open doors of opportunity for some companies while closing the door for others.
The other change that has gained momentum in the current environment is the expansion of services in the variable communications industry. Traditionally an organization would have contracts with multiple vendors to handle data composition, print and mail, eDelivery, asset archiving services and customized business intelligence services (BI tools). This model is also changing rapidly. Smart service organizations have identified that by providing multiple services they could present a more streamlined, cost effect operational programs with less security risk and better overall control. Again, traditional print-to-mail vendors are left out of the equation because technology-centric service organizations like Gilmore Doculink can provide a holistic approach that drives easily recognizable ROI. The trend is clearly towards all-in programs that include composition, print or digital output, delivery modes tagged on a per end-customer preference and then all the supporting functions such as client facing and internal support custom portals as well as dashboard data visualization tools that provide instant access to all program data. Essentially; a closed loop.
So what does this all mean for the current state of the industry? The companies that will grow and prosper are no longer print-to-mail vendors that try to provide other services; they’re technology companies that have print-to-mail as just one of their solution streams.
Mike Dunnigan, Vice President Sales, Gilmore Doculink