By Julia Mowry The key to optimizing efficiency, productivity and profitability is deploying intelligence across the enterprise. August 26, 2005 -- In a perfect world every application would be up to date and compliant. Every device would be compatible. There would be no such thing as delays, bottlenecks, idle time, or errors. Proprietary data streams would not exist. Any document could be output on any device to any destination. And IT staff could focus on core issues instead of troubleshooting production print problems. Of course, as we all know the reality of producing documents in today’s world is a bit more complex. In fact, the typical modern print operation must contend with multiple devices from multiple vendors in multiple locations and a variety of data streams, platforms, and PDLs. In high-volume production environments, mainframe and host-based applications were written using proprietary data streams for machines designed years ago and changing them is a major undertaking. In convergent and POD environments, enterprises struggle to integrate JDF compliant job tickets with a mix of devices that may or may not be JDF-enabled. They need ways to maximize efficiencies, improve turnaround and customer service and add value to bills and statements with personalized, database-driven marketing messages. All this in the face of increasing competition and pressure to do more with less, while improving operational efficiency and profitability. Fortunately, relief is in sight, thanks to the increasing digitization of everything, the emergence of industry standards that will connect isolated areas of the production process, and the advent of production intelligence that pulls all of the pieces of the puzzle together. As the art and science of producing documents evolves, the key to optimizing efficiency, productivity and profitability is deploying intelligence across the enterprise. And the best way to do this is with an end-to-end workflow that automates and integrates the production of printed products from submission to delivery. The engine that drives a truly automated, integrated, end-to-end workflow is production intelligence--intelligent information capture, intelligent data stream transformation, intelligent application conversion; intelligent job routing, tracking and accounting; and intelligent scheduling and workload balancing. With an end-to-end workflow that provides immediate access to actionable information about every job, device, and operator on the production floor, print operations can make informed decisions, boost staff productivity, increase document integrity, accelerate time to market, and improve customer service. Connecting Islands of Information Most production environments have multiple printer platforms, a variety of data streams, sources, and production and finishing requirements--islands that rarely connect in a way that provides actionable information or cohesive data gathering. They lack production intelligence and the resulting clarity it can print to business decisions. Modern print operations need to perform at peak efficiency, making the most of capital assets and human resources. The right deployment of production intelligence in any production environment should be provided through an end-to-end workflow solution that enables print operations to: Integrate and modify workflow easily and affordably as requirements change. Implement an “any to any” system without excessive translation effort or cost Collect data about bottlenecks, piece-level costs, downtime, and errors Manipulate workflow without placing a burden on IT resources Simplify and optimize production management Identify a problem and a plan before a situation becomes an emergency Capture and use information across the total enterprise production process, not just printing Expand awareness of the production workflow to include all components and eliminate islands An intelligent workflow should connect all these islands of information, unifying and automating processes and integrating devices, platforms and locations. Emtex Software's production suite, for example, comprises integrated software products that add intelligence to every aspect of the production workflow. By enabling an automated workflow, the intelligence helps production operations route, transform, track, and analyze workflow and better understand and control processes. Conclusion Today’s print operations—production transactional, ADF, convergent and print-on-demand—face unprecedented challenges when it comes to unifying and automating workflows. Far from a utopian scenario, they are characterized by multi-vendor, multi-platform, multi-location challenges and difficulty accessing basic job-level, device-level and operator-level production information and analytics capabilities in order to make sound business and operational decisions. However, with the implementation of intelligent hardware and software systems, enterprises can leverage the power of production intelligence to enable information collection, delivery, management and tracking at all stages of the production workflow. As a result, they are no longer hindered by legacy jobs and applications, multiple data streams, platforms and vendors, production errors, bottlenecks and downtime, or scheduling and workflow challenges. With production intelligence deployed from the genesis of the document to its completion, informed business decisions and a smooth intelligent, workflow are simply business as usual.