By Carro Ford Timely, relevant, personalized communication can be a powerful differentiator, and commercial printers and service bureaus that can offer these services offer added value to their customers. October 25, 2004 -- It's been awhile since ODJ talked with Dr. Rene Mueller, president and CEO of GMC Software. So we put Carro Ford on the case to talk with Mueller about GMC and the open standards document design, composition and production solutions it provides for financial, insurance and direct mail industries. Mueller draws on a strong background in research, and prior to GMC, he spent 10 years as a management consultant with Bain & Co. in London and Munich, and later was a freelance turnaround specialist. He holds a PhD in Physics from the Swiss Institute of Technology and an MBA from IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. GMC is headquartered in Switzerland with offices in Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America and Asia. ODJ: What trends do you see in customer applications and document requirements? RM: Personalization and customization are among the fastest growing trends across all communication media, including both transaction and promotional documents. This basically involves getting the right information to the right group at the right time. I say “basically,” but I don’t mean to suggest this is a simple thing. The overall process of creating these documents requires advanced business logic composition, along with comprehensive data handling and management. GMC has responded to this need with tools and a development and production platform that can bring all these tasks together less than one umbrella. Compelling, on-point messaging creates an opportunity with the customer who will read and respond to it. What a cost-effective way to achieve marketing goals – by using the very documents customers will very likely read anyway! So message management and campaign program functionality must be put in the hands of the marketing experts most qualified to guide that aspect. This is another growing requirement in the market. With our suite of PrintNet Software, we’ve succeeded in doing that. ODJ: How can commercial printers and service bureaus position themselves more competitively? RM: The bottom line for our customers and their customers is how to stand out in the crowd. More timely, relevant, personalized communication can be a powerful differentiator, and commercial printers and service bureaus that can offer these services offer added value to their customers. You must consider color for Internet electronic presentation; it simply is not an option. This puts you in the position of needing tools that allow you to create an application one time in color and use it wherever you want without having to reprogram it for the web or for a particular printer. The business climate is pushing everyone and everything for faster time to market and lower costs. For document professionals, this requires quicker, more efficient application development and maintenance, whether the job involves updating a bank statement for an acquisition or a launching a new insurance product or creating a customized real estate mailer. To do this in a way that makes financial and operational sense requires solutions that allow users to adapt to emerging technologies and functionality without having to start over with new application software every time a new product is launched or a new regulation must be accommodated. Easier, faster application conversion and repurposing that lets companies reuse what they already have is better than investing time and money to create something from scratch. ODJ: Printers are constantly told that they must offer more than just printing, they must engage in solution selling. How does GMC enable printing customers to do this? RM: To compete in this marketplace, commercial providers must tap into the communication strategies of their customers and support more needs as companies expect more strategic results from their documents. Continued advances in customization/personalization technology are making personalization and customization more attractive to a growing number of enterprises. Our customers are eager to excel in delivering these services to their customers, and we are committed to helping them succeed. We give service providers the ability to easily support a wider range of customers’ documents for delivery to any medium. Vendors must be positioned as the partner who can help achieve these results. ODJ: How can commercial printers take advantage of convergence? RM: Many commercial printing providers are trying to leverage the convergence of transaction, promotional, publishing applications into a new business model. To capture more business, they want to support all three, but they don’t want to invest in and support multiple tools for each application. They are also dealing with the convergence of delivery channels like print, web and email, and for these too they want a single point solution. It all comes down to workflow and being able to handle it with consistency and flexibility. PrintNet is able to connect document design and production stages to create more seamless, productive workflow. ODJ: Where do you think the market is in terms of growing adoption of color to enhance documents? RM: Every year color gains a stronger foothold in the digital document marketplace, as print vendors develop more remarkable color systems, and marketers come up with more creative, persuasive color applications. Color matching and profiling, combined with high speed color printing, are becoming essential, as people want to combine messaging with the impact of color and maintaining a high level of consistent quality in the output. As alternative delivery channels like the Internet take hold, color is non-negotiable in document design and presentation. You must consider color for Internet electronic presentation; it simply is not an option. This puts you in the position of needing tools that allow you to create an application one time in color and use it wherever you want without having to reprogram it for the web or for a particular printer. PrintNet offers this comprehensive approach, and it also excels in its support for color standards and matching. Our ability to align with customers’ goals for color output has always been a strength of PrintNet software. ODJ : What capabilities must be part of a truly useful document composition and production solution? RM: The term “workflow” covers so many ideas, and a fully functional document tool must add value at as many points as possible. One area that workflow software must address is the people involved in creating, approving and reviewing document applications. The nature of today’s documents requires giving multiple teams and departments the means to collaborate with each other, even from different locations. Design, marketing, compliance, legal, IT and operations are all groups that might need to provide input into a document application. Depending on the enterprise, external corporate resources could also be involved, such as business partners; technology partners; and service providers for print, fulfillment, marketing and advertising. The term “workflow” covers so many ideas, and a fully functional document tool must add value at as many points as possible. Common, familiar design platforms enable easier participation of a wider range of skill sets and enable different groups to work together more effectively. Version control and message management functionality are also required in solutions that serve the extended enterprise. Efficient, cost- and time-saving design, approval and proofing capabilities, especially for variable data work, bring quality, consistency and compliance to applications. This is a hallmark of PrintNet environments for customers in a variety of industries. The extended enterprise not only requires collaborative resources, but also collaborative technologies. The typical document environment today includes multiple platforms, data streams, print systems and universal print protocols are the only way to keep workflow connected. In many enterprises, their total document environments now also require web enablement, and long-term solutions must include this capability. ODJ: Given all these trends and changing market requirements, how is GMC positioning to keep up with the marketplace? RM: We have moved from a component-based offering to full solutions, with a focus on the application. This means we are geared to results that address what customers actually need to do, and not just developing software for the sake of creating the next generation of technology. Our strategy includes continued support for industry standards, a common platform and protocols, and universal languages. We are continually building alliances that bring together professional services with system integration services to better satisfy customers’ requirements. Technology alliances with best-in-breed print, web, DAM, ECM, and archive providers ensure that we integrate seamlessly with our customers’ environments and workflow. We are also using our expertise for vertical market specialization, which will give customers in insurance, retail banking, brokerage, utilities and other sectors specific solutions geared to their unique applications.