Annemarie Pucher, CEO of ISIS Papyrus, discussed having a business communication platform for handling personalized content. Rather than having multiple systems that deal with content – ingestion, analysis, processing and generation, multiplied by the number of interaction channels – a single platform can reduce the internal efforts to develop content-centric processes, while presenting a more seamless customer experience across multiple channels. This is particularly important for personalized outbound documents, whether transactional (e.g., statements), ad hoc (online presentment), or as the result of a business interaction (e.g., contracts), since the customer needs to be able to receive the same information regardless of which interaction channel that they choose.
She discussed how their platform provides fully personalized outbound correspondence based on composing documents from reusable elements rather than a simple mail merge approach. The building blocks may be sections of text, graphics, 2-D bar codes and other components, which can then be assembled in different ways based on rules that consider the customer information, the geographic region and other factors. Different language versions of each component can be created. The document assembly can access business information from other systems through a variety of adapters, and interface with different input and output channels. Business people can create and modify the building blocks and the overall document template, allowing them to change the layout and the dynamic content without IT intervention, although IT would be involved to set up the adapters and interfaces to other systems and services.
For interactive correspondence generation, such as what would be done by a customer service representative in response to an inbound call, they provide in-document editing of the dynamically-created letter. This allows the user to type in information directly and select which sections of the document to include, while ensuring that the predefined content and rules are included in the format required. There can be a complete workflow around interactive correspondence generation, where certain changes to the content require approval before the document is sent to the customer.
Regardless of whether the document is created interactively or in batch, that single document can be rendered to multiple output channels as required, including hardcopy and a large variety of online formats. This can include functions such as pooling for combined enveloping (something that I wish my brokerage could learn, rather than sending me multiple confirmations in multiple envelopes on the same day), confirming that a printed document was sent, and handling returned paper and electronic mail. Supporting CMIS allows them to store the documents in other content repositories, not just within their own repository.
We finished up with a demonstration of creating building blocks in their Document Workplace, then assembling these into a document template. The workplace is similar in appearance to Microsoft Word from a text formatting standpoint, making it easy for business people to get started, although there’s quite a bit of complex functionality that would require training. Although no technical skills are required, it does require some degree of analytical skills for designing reusable components, handling variables, and understanding document assembly parameters, so may not be done by the average business user.
I haven’t spent a lot of time reviewing correspondence generation capabilities, but it’s something that comes up in many of the BPM implementations that I’m involved in, and typically isn’t handled all that well (if at all) by those systems. In many cases, it’s a poorly implemented afterthought, performed in a non-integrated fashion in another system, or becomes one of those things that the users ask for but just never receive.