Commentary & Analysis
A New Perspective on Information Logistics
By Carro Ford Weston Consider how much of a company&
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: February 8, 2005
By Carro Ford Weston Consider how much of a company’s information is in the form of unstructured paper and electronic formats. For some companies, it’s as much as 80 percent. February 8, 2004 -- Darryl R. Dobin was named president of the Business Information Logistics (BIL) division of Macro 4 Software’s North American operation late last year. Focusing on the BIL market he shares an overview of that technology in this exclusive interview with OnDemandJournal.com. ODJ: What do you mean by business information logistics? DD: Imagine you are sending a package via a courier like FedX. You give them the package, of any size and weight, tell them where you want it to go and when it has to be at its destination, agree on the price up front, and they take it from there. You, the sender, don’t need to worry about the logistics or routing, or whether it goes by train, plane, truck or even bicycle. As long as it’s there on time in its original condition, your needs have been met. There is tremendous waste in connection with information output, and it’s not just an environmental problem. The actual costs of a printed page can be five to 10 times that of just the paper. The BIL solution suite performs the same function for business information within an enterprise. Consider how much of a company’s information is in the form of unstructured paper and electronic formats. For some companies, it’s as much as 80 percent. Processes to manage, distribute and track this information as it is moved from point to point have been ad hoc at best. With the volume of information increasing exponentially, there’s a pressing need for solutions that ensure the efficient, effective flow of business information from point of origin to point of consumption. Technology must also ensure that these processes occur in a secure, compliant and auditable approach, and also delivers significant cost savings. ODJ: What is driving the trend towards adoption of business information logistics? DD: Through research and market experience, Macro 4 has developed a thorough understanding of the complex needs of companies with regard to their information. What has emerged from our most recent research is that there is tremendous waste in connection with information output, and it’s not just an environmental problem. The actual costs of a printed page can be five to 10 times that of just the paper. Any cost reductions resulting from technology improvements may be cancelled because businesses do not effectively manage the output from their printers. Organizations are realizing they don’t have to print as much as they do, yet 36 percent of respondents Macro 4 research said they increased the number of printed documents in the past year. Organizations are realizing they don’t have to print as much as they do, that there are other ways to manage information output. According to our recent research, 36 percent of respondents said they increased the number of printed documents in the past year, so the problem is only getting bigger. Companies should not be losing money on something so basic as printed documents. Any office can make significant savings of both time and money by tackling these problems head on, and the savings from better output management through BIL can deliver significant competitive advantage. By managing, storing, retrieving and viewing business documents and information electronically, output management costs can be greatly reduced, and customer service significantly enhanced. Customer service organizations are looking for solutions that enable their CSR’s to deal with customer calls and emails in one interaction, and resolved completely. Anything else costs time and money. We also know that companies require increasing levels of security for all of their critical business information. Managing access rights for documents, processes, and output channels is an absolute requirement today. Companies in all vertical industry segments are faced with increasing compliance demands. New SEC regulations being published all the time, the Sarbanes-Oxley law has imposed new regulations, HIPAA rules enforce privacy requirements for all health care information, and other regulatory agencies, at both the state and federal levels, are looking at ways to ensure transparency and protection for customers, suppliers and shareholders. All of these compliance requirements have added to the need for companies to enhance their ability to provide full and complete audit trails for all activities, transactions and processes. Increasing compliance demands have added to the need for companies to enhance their ability to provide full and complete audit trails for all activities, transactions and processes. We believe the market is ready to make high-impact changes in the way they manage their business information. Most enterprises have a broad range of requirements that require a suite of resources to handle the workflow properly, so they need more than point solutions to truly address these issues. Macro 4 is at the forefront of this development with our Business Information Logistics portfolio, an integrated suite of solutions to address these multiple business requirements for both today’s environment, and to ease the evolution with the inevitable changes that will continue into the future. ODJ: What are some of the characteristics of a BIL system? DD: Business information logistics can take any output from any application from any platform and manage the logistics of distribution of the information within time and cost parameters. It provides a more structured, accountable way to manage and move business information, and when companies have a way to do this, imagine the enhanced performance and productivity that result. Our BIL software analyzes content, makes decisions based on business rules, and adjusts each process to achieve the desired results. A fully automated series of steps turn a complex process into something straightforward and repeatable for the end user, whether that’s a CSR or IT. BIL business rules can initiate a process with the data from the print stream. For example, if a client wants a brokerage statement emailed, their trade confirms faxed, and billing to be printed and mailed, BIL automation can make sure that happens without requiring end users to re-configure information each time it is needed. Time savings, accuracy consistency, and customer service are all improved. Obviously, business information logistics must be compatible and easily integrate with other applications such as: composition engines like GMC’s PrintNet or Exstream’s Dialogue; document services like Mailcode; content managements solutions from FileNet, Interwoven and others; and especially enterprise applications like SAP or Oracle/Peoplesoft. BIL offers companies a means of expanding on these capabilities and creating seamless integration with them to accommodate and enhance all of a company’s document requirements. ODJ: Where do you see the markets for information logistics? The data, the output channels and formats, and the users may vary by industry, but the same basic requirement remains: to get information from one point to another more efficiently and economically. DD: The onslaught of information output is not limited to particular industries, and consequently, BIL is a horizontal application that can mean something different to almost every enterprise. For a telecommunications company, a large percentage of the information output traffic relates to billing and customer service inquiries. Banking is similar, but output can also include account statements, while retail would have a totally different set of information requirements. The data, the output channels and formats, and the users can vary, but the same basic requirement remains: to get information from one point to another more efficiently and economically. Macro 4 has numerous success cases in many different verticals. Europe has already experienced a wider adoption of the technology, but there is tremendous potential in other geographic markets such as the US. ODJ: What is driving interest in BIL technology in the US? DD: One of the things driving customers to look at enterprise content management and integrated document output management through BIL is the whole Sarbanes-Oxley situation. You have to be sure everything you can produce is retained in case it is needed for audit later. In today’s litigious business climate, there is no excuse for not having good strategies in place. And with BIL technology, output management, and today’s archiving solutions, companies are in a better position than ever to satisfy Sarbanes Oxley with automation to avoid huge increases in IT workload. HIPAA and its requirements for portability of medical records and privacy also demand content solutions that require someone to manage output and archive to retain. Markets affected by HIPAA need the same sort of solutions as those impacted by Sarbanes-Oxley. It’s in response to a new business climate that demands greater accountability and accessibility. New solutions, such as Business Information Logistics from Macro 4, are addressing this deficiency, giving businesses the infrastructure to provide comprehensive control and management of their myriad unstructured documents.