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Publishing automation in Finland

I have been working with database publishing and publishing automation for little over 10 years now, usually as a part of process development of our clients’ sales and marketing needs. Here are some of my thoughts in regards to the state of publishing automation in Finland currently.
First it’s good to note that despite long-standing transaction printing being based on mostly the same concepts and principles (data from multiple sources to one printer), I will not consider it a part of publishing automation here. Personally I see publishing automation in regards to how the (product) content is being published from one source to multiple channels or medias automatically. Read more on how Canter covers publishing automation here.

High quality data opens new opportunities for full-scale utilization of publishing automation

The use of publishing automation is Finland is very fragmented, and many applications with publishing process automation which could have lots of potential uses within companies do exist. The technology is constantly developing and making new and more modern solutions available.
In my view, the single biggest slowdown in spreading the solutions and getting the best out of the systems within companies is the poor quality of the data available. Typically this is the result of undeveloped information management practices and tools. Many of these companies still lack the understanding on how important a well-organized information management actually is. Luckily the digital tsunami has made many companies and management teams to understand how data and the quality of it are important for the entire business. Publishing automation is also based on high quality structured information, regardless of the channel it’s being used for.

Efficiency via publishing automation

I have noticed that in Finland many small companies have taken the process automation really far, which is quite natural when the business is being developed with small resources and efficiency is always in the center of everything. On the other hand there are also companies which do not think of these things at all, because the knowledge of technical solutions is lacking, or because a third party has always been in hired to supply printed catalogs and similar materials. Fortunately for SMEs, the range of solutions and expertise in the market has become more diverse. Solutions can be found in many price ranges, and every singe euro invested in the development will turn profits faster than before.

Renovation of information logistics is the lifeblood

Medium-sized companies are a mixed bag. There are companies which are still just starting up, and companies which have taken process automation really far. Industry-specific differences can also be significant. For example, many importers and wholesalers have found that maintaining information logistics is their lifeblood with intensifying and globalizing competition. The change in value chains can also be seen in how these companies have had to wake up to the development of information management and publishing automation.

Among the manufacturing industry I still see much work left to do with these things. With export-oriented businesses language version management is a common challenge, which in itself often serves as a powerful driver for optimizing and automating content and publishing processes.
Many of the greatest domestic growth tales involve an aspect where stopping and thinking of internal processes and procedures did simply not happen because all the focus, energy and hands had been caught up in business development and growth control. And at some point it was seen that the scaling and stretching of people was no longer possible or rational.

Publishing automation as a continuation to product information management

At Canter we think that the source of the information in publishing automation is irrelevant, as modern solutions are able to access information from multiple sources. Quality and structure still largely dictate whether automation is rational, what level of automation could be realistic to achieve and what kind of outcome could be achieved. For this reason I see publishing automation as a continuation to product information management (PIM).

Typically the PIM system acts as a centralized publishing database, but sometimes it may also be justified to make separate intermediate storage for different channels and publishing processes. If necessary the information can also be obtained from the company’s partners’ systems. PIM is usually a part of other operative systems, such as enterprise resource planning systems, which provide data that can be further processed and enriched in the PIM system for distribution and publishing. In some instances the product process could be built in such a way that PIM serves as a source of information and as a so-called product master that distributes data controlledly to all systems in use.

Let’s use data from where it already exists

Customer information, as well as other customizable content and variable data needed for printing are not typically replicated to PIM, but are usually read directly from their own sources and connected to the process before printing.
Customization in B2B environments, such as the production of customer-specific contract pricing lists, is usually based on the content of the PIM and ERP systems – sometimes also in the CRM content. For example this includes customer specific product information, price information and contractual or customized product information.

To conclude, there are a number of companies in our country that make use of the publishing automation systems, thus gaining a significant competitive advantage. With publishing automation it is possible to significantly improve marketing processes and improve multi-channel customer experience. There are even more companies that have not yet made use of the opportunities offered by the publishing automation systems for their businesses. As part of marketing automation the use of publishing automation will surely grow in the next few years.

Digital transformation: All hands on deck!

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The stiff breeze of digital transformation becomes a formidable storm. For a good ship with an excellent team a unique opportunity to reach the finish line in front of the competition. Similar to the wheat races of the 19th and 20th centuries, when the largest sailing ships were racing under extreme weather conditions, this applies to all companies today: Digital transformation is both an opportunity but also a risk for the company. This applies in particular to product communication. In the future, product data and processes will be the focus not “creative” advertising messages. Therefore the design and maintenance of the “golden data” set must be a high priority.

 

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The number of channels and touchpoints in different contexts for new markets is growing steadily. There is an obvious need to edit data only once and to use this on-demand in the most diverse contexts. In addition to the technical infrastructure of PIM systems such as Canter’s Adeona , the process change is of fundamental importance.  All available resources must be directed towards the “golden data” set and the effort to  enrich solely for the channel and the creation of the  touchpoint presentation must be minimized as far as possible. All the men on deck must work and on it. However, there remains only one  team for all other activities. This change applies in particular to the print channel. Traditionally, a great deal of effort is being made to adapt and create data for the print channel but the production of print publications is often still done manually. Using these resources efficiently for all channels and touchpoints is a key factor in the return on investment of PIM projects. This, however, inevitably means there is a need for higher automation of the print channel because resources for manual activities are now missing. The priint:suite, with its unique automation and productivity functions, not only offers the opportunity to save time and money, but also creates space for better data and thus also for more creativity.

In the print channel hitting the wind at speed leads to successful communication.

-Horst Huber

Horst Huber is a pioneer in the field of system-driven publishing. His extensive expertise – spanning cross-channel marketing, process optimisation, database publishing/Web-to-Print, benchmarketing and potential analysis – is drawn from over 20 years of project experience in retail, mail order and industrial enterprises. He is also founder and CEO of the WERK II. 

Horst Huber’s blog