Enterprise output management systems (EOMS) are the backbone of print production and are critical for streamlining operations, improving print productivity, tracking communications at the piece level, meeting strict service level agreements (SLAs), and monitoring the status of all production jobs across multiple sites. EOMS were historically used solely to manage the production of printed communications. However, today, these solutions offer enhanced workflow and additional output capabilities to meet consumer expectations for digital delivery.
Madison Advisors’ latest research, Enterprise Output Management Systems, 4th Edition: Moving Beyond Print Management, explores the technology solutions available in the market today. Enterprise Output Management is commercial software that can ingest data files from multiple systems and in multiple formats, transform that data, and direct it to the appropriate output channel. These solutions, however, have grown beyond traditional print production management. In the past, EOMS solutions were acquired to manage multiple print devices by combining and splitting print jobs to optimize utilization of print hardware. Fax and other electronic delivery capabilities, such as email or SMS text messages, were a low priority compared to print management functionality. Today, in order to communicate with customers electronically, organizations are looking for solutions that can provide multi-channel delivery for high-value customer communications in order to keep up with consumer expectations and remain competitive in the industry.
All enterprise output management systems offer the same basic production management features, such as:
• Page Description Language (PDL) File Ingestion: The ability to ingest a wide variety of PDL files, such as PDF, PostScript, AFP, PCL, HTML, XML, CSV, ASCII, and Metacode. Many enterprises generate customer communications using a variety of document composition tools. This capability expedites the onboarding process and streamlines production without the need for the enterprise to convert applications to a preferred composition tool.
• PDL Transformation: Converting the format of input files received to another output format, such as converting from AFP format to PDF or to PCL. It is typical for service providers to have print equipment from more than one manufacturer. PDL transformations allow print output files to be directed to different devices as needed.
• Print Queue Management: The ability to schedule print jobs and monitor print queues, establish print job priority, and balance printer workloads.
• Job Grouping: Combining multiple jobs together based on like attributes to facilitate longer print runs and fewer machine setups, or to increase pre-sort postal densities to reduce postage expense.
• Job Splitting or Merging: Manipulation of data streams to consolidate print jobs or split a single job across multiple print engines for better resource utilization.
• Print File Modification/Document Re-Engineering: The ability to edit print files by inserting or deleting text, adding or replacing barcodes, removing or adding pages to a document, adding print overlays, swapping out images, adding color to monochrome documents, and creating banners, headers, and footers for print job files. This allows for document enhancements to be made without the need to go back to the original composition software to make changes.
• Reprint Capability: Documents that are archived can be retrieved and reprinted as well as exception files from the insertion process.
• House-holding: The ability to group documents from multiple jobs together for insertion into a single envelope for a given address.
Our research indicates that while numerous technology enhancements have been made in the areas of print transformation, workflow, and multi-channel delivery, and many clients are approaching transactional communications from a “digital-first” mindset, printed communications still continue to be a critical and valuable component of multi-channel delivery. Consumers still open and read their postal mail and trust the communications that are delivered to their mailbox.
Consumer expectations for digital delivery increased due to these advancements in technology. Today, organizations that are unable to communicate to their customers in the customer’s channel of choice run the risk of losing out to their competitors; therefore, multi-channel delivery of high-value transactional communications is critical to maintaining consumer loyalty. The results of Madison Advisors’ research back in 2010 revealed that although demand for multi-channel communications was increasing, few of the solution providers offered strong support for email and SMS message delivery. Today, our research finds that most of the solution providers have integrated email and SMS capabilities as a part of their solutions.
The last decade has witnessed several new developments in the marketplace for enterprise output management. Changes in technology and increased consumer expectation for digital delivery have driven this already mature market to respond by developing capabilities to support additional channels for electronic delivery. Other improvements include sophisticated workflows that can be designed easily through a graphical user interface and robust print transformation capabilities, all of which help streamline print production operations and allow service providers to increase their value proposition beyond print and mail. Madison Advisors expects that EOMS will continue to keep pace with trends in the printing industry as well as advancements in technology. We will continue to monitor this technology going forward.
Gina Ferrara is Senior Analyst at Madison Advisors. Connect with Madison Advisors at www.madison-advisors.com, on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/madison-advisors or on Twitter @madison_advisor.
This article originally appeared in the November/December, 2019 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.