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Commentary & Analysis

Xplor-ing in Boston – the “Lost” Conference

Feeling a bit like Alice in Through the Looking Glass,

By Gail Nickel-Kailing
Published: March 14, 2008

Feeling a bit like Alice in Through the Looking Glass, I trudged through the Boston Convention Center for miles, heading away from my target in order to get to the Xplor XDU registration desk. If you’ve ever circumnavigated the Convention Center, you know what I mean!

Arriving at the entrance, I was directed down to Registration but discovered it was for On Demand and AIIM only. I had to go up to find the Xplor Registration  - up and up again. Once safely registered, badge in hand (or, on neck…), I opened the nice fat XDU (Xplor Document University) conference catalog.

 

Lining up the catalogs from AIIM, On Demand, and Xplor, I realized I could get a graduate degree in documents, in one place

Lining up the catalogs from AIIM, On Demand, and Xplor, I realized I could get a graduate degree in documents, in one place! With Xplor’s XDU I could do a deep dive into document creation, composition, output, and mailing; with AIIM I could focus on document capture, storage, and archiving; and with On Demand I had digital printing and production at my fingertips. For any student of communication, it was Nirvana.

Unfortunately, as closely related – and logically aligned – as Xplor, On Demand, and AIIM are, the execution left a lot to be desired. To truly bring the terrific training, tools, and displays that these partners offer requires good coordination of sessions, signage, cross-promotion, and pricing. It was apparent that what should have been a happy “ménage a trios” was not delivered effectively. For more attendee comments about the conferences – or to add your own – go to the On Demand Open Thread on the PrintCEO Blog

All coordination and promotion woes aside, Xplor’s XDU delivered terrific training! While we’ve been hearing about TransPromo for the last year, there was an entire track on the subject. “Trans Meets Promo: Transforming Transaction Documents into Marketing Opportunity” covered using the tools, building a campaign, integrating TransPromo into a company’s marketing mix, and, finally, avoiding the mistakes early adopters have made. Good to know!

 

Fascinating also was the emphasis on the “Xs” – XML and XPS, both on the display floor on the “blue side” – that is, the AIIM exhibit hall – and in the class offering

Fascinating also was the emphasis on the “Xs” – XML and XPS, both on the display floor on the “blue side” – that is, the AIIM exhibit hall – and in the class offering. Xplor historically has been a place where AFP users have shared tips, tricks, and pitfalls; this year, with an eye on the future, a number of sessions drilled down into new output technology. Microsoft, and the XPS Pavilion, reminded us that Word isn’t standing still; PDF watch out!

What wasn’t clear was that the TransPromo event was a joint effort between Xplor’s XDU and InfoTrends – conference provider for On Demand. AIIM also missed a chance to “cross pollinate” as a number of XPS exhibitors filled the XPS Pavilion.

Xplor International

While the XDU – the educational arm of Xplor – was the focus of the event, Xplor (the organization) conducted a bit of business while on site. The new Xplor Board of Directors for 2008 was introduced: Skip Henk, President/CEO; Paul Abdool, IKON Office Solutions, Treasurer; Wilma Grant, Supreme Court of the United States, Secretary; Paul Gerelle, MPI Tech, Vice Chairman; and Mark Bonacorso, Chairman.

Awards were presented to six companies, recognizing both technology and its application. Crawford Technologies was the recipient of the 2008 Innovator of the Year Award for Transform, the company’s document re-engineering application. With Crawford’s re-engineering solutions, users can:

  • Replace a PostNet barcode with an Intelligent Mail Barcode (4 state barcode) to get a better postal discount.
  • Add electronic inserts into a PDF file to match the physical inserts placed into the envelope.
  • Add a new 2D barcode to more efficiently drive your mail inserters.
  • Add a personalized URL into a PDF file to drive your click-through rate higher on on-line viewed statements.
  • Commingle production print streams, resort them to get your best postal discount, and then add appropriate barcodes to the new unified stream.

From left to right: Skip Henk, Xplor; Ernie Crawford, President of Crawford Technologies; Steven Poe, VP Product Management, and Stuart Warner, VP Marketing & Sales.

GMC Software Technology, received the Xplor 2008 Application of the Year award for the company’s PrintNet™ Software used in a TransPromo application by Oniya Shapira for CAL (Israel Credit Cards Ltd.) an issuer of major brand credit cards, including VISA, Diners Club and MasterCard along with retail credit cards and loyalty cards.

Oniya Shapira, experts in direct marketing and digital printing and employing 150, used PrintNet to print Hebrew characters from right to left, while printing numbers from left to right. For more information go to www.oniyaprint.com. Shown here, left to right, are: Skip Henk, Xplor; Ravit Spiegel, VP Marketing, Oniya Shapira; René Müller, CEO, GMC Software Technology, and Wilma Grant, (Secretary, Xplor Board of Directors).

In addition to the above and due to the large number of high-quality submissions, Xplor’s awards were expanded. Companies receiving honorable mention include Trendset/Integrated System, X-Packs/DST Output, Thomas Cook/Pitney Bowes and Suez Lyonnaise de Eau France/Data One France

Also presenting…

By the way, there was a fourth event taking place at the convention center: Drupalcon.

What, pray tell, is Drupal? Well, it’s certainly not drupa, though there were a number of double takes, I’m sure!

Drupal is an open source content management software application that “makes it easy for website administrators and website users to publish content (web pages, books, blogs, forums) to the web.”  For more information go to: Drupal Association (link: http://association.drupal.org).

Drupalcon Boston 2008 was a gathering of about 800 developers and users of the Drupal application that focused on site building, design and the user experience, marketing and business, and community development across about 60 sessions. Interesting that on the second level – two stories above the exhibit floor – there were hundreds of developers putting a content management system in action while more were on display at AIIM below.

Wrapping It Up

While one could consider the combination of Xplor, On Demand, and AIIM – and even tossing in Drupalcon – a truly inspired convergence, I was disappointed that the final result was not more smoothly coordinated and executed. Unfortunately, the organizers missed the opportunity to leverage these events to provide an educational opportunity that reached the full length of the document lifecycle – from content and campaign management to document design and composition to production and publishing and finally to storage and archiving.

Here’s hoping that all the elements fall together the next time around so that attendees have the full range of opportunities to learn, share, and observe technology and applications from one end of the document lifecycle to the other.

 

 

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